When John Waters arrives in Miami for this year's book fair, it might just feel like home.
Waters, who directed Pink Flamingos and about a dozen other twisted cult films, is known as the Pope of Trash and the Prince of Puke; he's most comfortable at the intersection of gross, glamorous, and grotesque. So it's a real testament to the quality of the Miami Book Fair International that the thing that most excites the King of Bad Taste about this town isn't chonga fashion or drunk tourists puking on Washington Ave. or that one time a guy chewed off another guy's face.
It's the books.
"I like book fairs. They're so exciting!" he says. "You get so many smart people in one place where actually that's how they relax is to read. I'm definitely one of those people."
Waters is a hardcore book nerd. He'll be at MBFI promoting Carsick, his latest book that chronicles his real-life adventures hitchhiking across the country. But he'll also be hunting down new tomes for his personal collection of "uncollectible books."
"I have probably 8,500 books all catalogued and everything. I'm a book collector," he says. "The novelizations of movies which no one collects? I collect them. I also collect porn parodies of literature. So yes, I collect all kinds of books."
Carsick is a road trip memoir, but only in part; the first two sections of the book are fiction, in which Waters imagines his all-time best case scenarios for the trip, like giving a blowjob during a demolition derby; and his worst-case scenarios, like meeting a grisly end at the hands of a crazed serial killer who only targets cult film directors.
"Some people skip [the introduction] and they don't realize the first two parts are fiction. They say, 'Did that really happen?'" Waters laughs. "Do you really believe my singing anus did a duet with Connie Francis?" (That part, of course, is in the best case scenario.)
So what's Waters' best-case scenario for his trip to Miami?
"Let's see: All the planes would be on time. I would get there and it wouldn't be too hot, because I hate hot weather. At the book fair, I'd have a lot of time to walk around and see the books, and I'd find like two or three books that I didn't have, that I didn't even know about, that I'd been searching for. And I'd have great signings."
Not exactly magic anus material. Waters' imagination is still full of wonderful, cringe-inducing weirdness, but he's keeping his real life low key these days. Carsick was his mid-life crisis, he said - "Most men buy a sports car. I buy art or go hitchhiking" - but now he's cured.
"I think I got my street cred," he says. "Besides, mid-life might be stretching it. I'm 68. Am I gonna live to be, what's twice that? 136? As optimistic as I am, with medical breakthroughs, I don't think I'm gonna live to be 136."
John Waters reads Saturday, November 22, at 4 p.m. in Chapman Reading Room 3210. Visit miamibookfair.com.
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