Way before Super Happy Fun America decided to hold a Straight Pride Parade in Boston this June, filmmaker John Waters had the idea for a local Hetero Pride Week, which he writes about in his new book, “Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder,” published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
“Actually, the ones who really deserve a special week in Provincetown are straight people,” Waters writes. “Aren’t they the minority? There are only a few straight bars, almost no children were born here all year, and the high school closed. Hetero Pride Week. Let’s have it off-season in February to be even more outrageous. Think of the support groups: Parents of Provincetown Hetero Children (‘My straight son is so brave — he works at Tea Dance!’ or ‘Our hetero daughters actually live among these lesbians, yet have never experimented with cunnilingus despite being feminists’).”
At his home last Sunday, Waters was amused to talk about the Straight Pride Parade announcement that the gay conservative Milo Yiannopoulos will be its grand marshal and mascot — and that the parade will go on.
“It’s happened now. And everybody is pissed off about it,” Waters says. “I thought it’d be hilarious, but now everybody is furious about it. But they don’t usually get mad at me, because I don’t think I’m mean, and I always make fun of everything I like. That’s the difference. I do like Provincetown, and of course I’m for gay rights, but at the same time, I like to find out whatever the other minority rules are and make fun of them just as much.”
The chapter “No Vacation” in the book is a lively romp through Provincetown, where Waters has summered for 55 years (though for the first year he only stayed two weeks). He writes about favorite events, such as Scream Along with Billy and Sue Goldberg on Friday nights (“What other gay man do you know who can sing entire Eminem or Velvet Underground albums between patter about his own bad nights of shooting up drugs or having lewd sex with crazy people?”) and drinking at the Underground bar (“It’s my favorite, since it’s a straight-minority bar in a gay mecca and filled with locals and hipsters, some of whom are definitely on the down low.”).
Waters doesn’t only write about his favorite things, though. He calls Route 6 the most dangerous road in America, and makes fun of people dragging suitcases down Commercial Street.
“Every time people write about Provincetown, they never say anything bad, so I gently say a couple things that get on my nerves. Couples who hold hands in the middle of the road — come on,” Waters says. “It’s my tour of Provincetown for you.”
But “Mr. Know-It-All” is more than that. It’s a self-help book that Waters says teaches people “how to fail upwards.”
“It’s really my opinion on everything. There are only two things Mr. Know-It-All knows nothing about: sports and science fiction,” Waters says. “So I’m saying it’s a self-help book. It is, though, in a weird way. It’s all my advice, and I try to write in a funny way, but I mean everything I say. I mean, my advice isn’t really bad.”
In fact, some of the advice is perfect — especially for young filmmakers, actors, writers and anyone who will have to deal with a career in Hollywood. He actually tells you how to negotiate. But there’s still more to the book.
“My favorite chapter is the one about my son, it’s so ludicrous,” he says about a creepy real-life-looking doll, Bill, which he had made to feature on his Christmas cards one year. “He still scares me, when I walk in that room and he’s still sitting there. He didn’t go on the book tour with me. Maybe the paperback. I can bring him out like a ventriloquist, you know?”
In the final chapter, Mr. Know-It-All considers his death — and afterlife. He’s decided against being buried with his biological family, and instead bought a plot in Baltimore near his partner-in-crime, Divine.
“We’ve all bought plots there. It’s me, Dennis Dermody, Mink Stole, Pat Moran. Yeah, Disgraceland. I should be in Baltimore,” Waters says. “They could move me up here every summer maybe. Maybe I could come up here in the graveyard for the season, the summer, and just put me in for three months and bring me back. I don’t think that’s ever happened. It may be illegal.”
That’s never stopped him before.