Iconic filmmaker, director, writer, actor, and artist John Waters is taking a dive into the wonderful world of lesbians, as he performs at the upcoming Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend in April (*rescheduled to September.) Also known as The Dinah, this five-day weekend getaway and music festival has become an infamous spring break for queer ladies.
This ultimate lesbian pool party offers nightly entertainment, live concerts, games, comedy shows, DJ battles, and celebrity meet-and-greets, all while providing a safe space for women-identified folks to authentically connect with each other. It is a must-attend event.
This year marks The Dinah’s 30-year anniversary, so audiences are expecting the best of the best. The Dinah is expanding their offerings to be more inclusive to LGBTQ folks, including those who are taking the stage. Waters was thrilled to be invited.
“As a proud lezbro who has never been scared of women smarter than me, I am happy to be the comic relief in a sea of partying, all-girl, music festival fans,” he said. “Thanks to The Dinah, I will finally be a true outsider!”
Known for his long career in entertainment, Waters has written and directed 16 movies, including Pink Flamingos, Hairspray, Desperate Living, Cry Baby, and Polyester. He is a photographer whose work has been displayed in galleries across the globe, a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and an author of nine books.
Waters gives advice on how to tackle your life and explores how being on the fringe of society has become chic and trendy in his latest memoir, Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder, which was released last year.
OUT FRONT had the opportunity to chat more with Waters about his upcoming appearance at The Dinah and how excited he is to party with the lesbians.
Let’s begin by talking more about your upcoming appearance at The Dinah. What can we expect?
You can expect a show I certainly address with humor. A male in a lesbian world! I have always been a fan of lesbian culture. I am fascinated by it, and I know it is a world that is hard to get in. It’s a lot easier these days because I think everybody, especially young people, are much more open and more receptive.
So, I am looking forward to it and seeing what kind of humor will play. I have never played to an all-women group. I have played to all men in prison, but that’s a very different group, too. My show will be written for this audience completely. I have lots of different audiences. I recently did the John Waters Valentine’s Show, and I am doing the John Waters Easter show. I have a Christmas show, and I think Halloween will probably be next.
Why do you think you were selected to be the comic relief for this year’s event?
I think I was picked to cross the line a bit, to shake things up. And since this is the 30-year anniversary, maybe it was time to widen it a little bit and to muddy the borders that might be keeping some people out. I think that nobody is trying to change it from an all-woman event at all, but at the same time, pushing the boundaries a little bit, which I think is healthy in today’s world.
What are you looking forward to the most about appearing at The Dinah, and what do you hope to take away from this experience?
I want to see how lesbians party when they’re wild at night! I heard it gets pretty wild, Girls Gone Wild, only the other way around. I’m looking forward to seeing it.
Have you always considered yourself a proud lezbro?
Yes, I think I always was. I made a weird movie about lesbians called Desperate Living a long time ago. I used to go to the lesbian bars in Baltimore that would not let men in, and there were some very frightening ones that I miss, actually! They were the opposite of a liberated women’s movement today. This was, like, really old school.
Johnny Cash was quite the role model for many gay women in Baltimore in the 50s and 60s, but it was a blue-collar town. So, you would see a lot of women that looked a certain way, and this was way before trans people [were out]. This wasn’t any of that. I don’t think anyone even thought that was possible. So, that is kind of interesting today, too.
The Dinah is known as the infamous spring break for queer ladies. Do you have any outrageous spring break stories of your own?
Well, I never went to spring break, but I love the idea! I thought this was like Woodstock for lesbians. I know in Provincetown where I live, every summer, we have Baby Dyke Weekend, which is Memorial Day, and that is what it is affectionately known as. That used to be hard partying, full of mostly college-aged girls, and they would be topless, fighting, drinking—they would have fun! They took over the whole town. So, that’s the only experience I have that might be a little close to it.
Thanks to your history and career, you have paved the way for LGBTQ voices to be more prevalent in today’s media and society. Do you think queer folk, women, and other outcasts are still struggling to fit in?
That depends. The problem is, it has become a class issue. In rich kid schools, it’s better to be gay. I don’t know how it became a class issue, but it weirdly has. The acceptance of it.
Why is it great to be an outcast? Why should one strive to be different?
I do not think one should strive to be an outcast. That’s trying too hard. If you aren’t one, you aren’t one. If you are a straight male, there is nothing you can do about it. You aren’t an outcast, so I guess you have to accept that. There is nothing you can do about it, and when it comes to kinds of political correctness; I think that is as ludicrous as some of the other stuff.
That is why people vote for Trump because of some of his crazy political correctness. We got to win, then we can have those battles. Let’s win first. You do not win by making the opposition feel stupid. I think you have to learn how to negotiate your way through society, no matter what you are. High school is hell for everybody, and the only ones it isn’t hell for, their life is sh*tty already.
Lesbians play at men’s shows all the time, but we do not hear much about gay men playing at lesbian shows too often. Why is performing at The Dinah so important to you?
Because I don’t think any man has really done it. Has a man played and done a comedy show at The Dinah?
Not that I’m aware of.
I like to be the first at something and doing something that nobody else has attempted to do. It’s like a daredevil stunt; I don’t have a safety net!
Do you think The Dinah would be an event Divine would enjoy?
Yes, actually, I do. I think Divine would have loved it, but Divine didn’t want to be a woman, not really. He never wore drag except when he was being paid to do it. He said he was a fat person, and it was too hot wearing all this sh*t. Divine wanted to be a monster, not a woman.
In Desperate Living, Divine was supposed to play the butch lesbian role, but couldn’t because he was doing a show. It would have been interesting to see if Divine did. Susan Lowe, who took the part, was not a lesbian or gay, but she gave up a lot to play the role of Mole.
What do you think the world would be like without lesbians today?
Well, I can’t imagine that. We would not have an Armed Forces. We would have lost every war!
Are there any other projects you would like to plug or mention at this time?
Oh, no, I am just mostly plugging this one. You know, I’m doing things all year. I have the John Waters Easter show; my book comes out in paperback in May, and that’s important to me because I’ll be doing a whole book tour. I always have stuff coming out; that is an exciting part of it. I just keep finding new ways to tell stories.
Yes, how has your new book, Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder, been received by audiences?
Great! It has actually gotten the best reviews of any book I have ever written. It’s been published in several different foreign countries, so it has been very exciting.
The official Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend will take place in Palm Springs, CA April 1-5. For more information, visit thedinah.com.