New York City, USA: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015
336 pp., 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2", hardcover
Edition size unknown
A couple of years ago the band Here We Go Magic announced over Twitter: “Just picked up John Waters hitchhiking in the middle of Ohio. No joke. Waters is in the car.” The story was picked up by numerous media outlets and quickly went viral, outing the filmmaker/artist's plans.
The guitarist Michael Bloch later told Pitchfork:
There's a hydro-fracking boom in western Pennsylvania. You can't get a motel room. We had to drive til 4AM, and finally found a Days Inn in eastern Ohio. Getting back on the highway this morning, there was a man at the side of the on-ramp with a sign that read "to the end of Rte 70." Jen [Turner, bassist] wanted to pick him up, but we drove past him. As we passed by, our sound guy said "John Waters." Luke said, "Yep, definitely John Waters." We got off at the next exit and circled back. He was still there. We pulled up, opened the door and asked where he was coming from. "Baltimore," he said. And we said "Get in, sir."
Most drivers who stopped to pick him up did not recognize him, or mistook him for Steve Buscemi. Some offered him money, assuming he was homeless (which he attributes to his running out of moisturizer). But Waters packed plenty of cash and credit cards, a GPS tracking device, a sign that read "I'm not Psycho", and a “fame kit,” in case he needs to use his celebrity to get him out of a trouble. Miscalculating the length of time it would take, he packed too few pairs of underwear, as the plan was to throw them away after wearing them, rather than stop for laundry.
Before setting out on his Baltimore-to-San Francisco adventure, Waters imagined the best and worst case scenarios, which make up the first two sections of the book. The final recounts his trip, which was not as dangerous as cross-country hitch-hiking might sound.
“I think it’s dangerous to stay home,” he said, “never going out and seeing the world and meeting new and interesting people. Now that’s dangerous.”
Waters, in Toronto this week for Pride events, will speak to a sold-out audience tonight at Ryerson Theatre.