Born Baltimore, Maryland

Independent filmmaker John Waters, dubbed the "pope of trash," draws the subject matter for his outrageous, shocking, and often X-rated films—including Mondo Trasho (1969), Pink Flamingos (1972), and Desperate Living (1977)—from life in his native Baltimore. Their offbeat and earthy grittiness has influenced many other filmmakers. Waters says he purposely stooped low for the sake of "shock humor," which he described as "making people laugh at things they would never laugh at if it were real." However, in a surprising turn of events, his 1988 film Hairspray received a PG rating and then became a prize-winning Broadway musical.

This portrait by Waters's neighbor Joseph Sheppard shows the filmmaker seated in front of the Italian poster made for Desperate Living, which depicts two of the movie's stars, Jean Hill (left), and Mink Stole.


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