John Waters on Comme des Garcons' Rei Kawakubo: "Most People Think We're Poor When We Have on Her Outfits"
On July 28, the cult icon brings his one-man show, This Filthy World, to the Parker Playhouse and was kind enough to chat with us from his summer home in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
In part one of the interview, the charismatic and very casual (he was wearing basically only boxer shorts!) Waters spoke to New Times about hitchhiking across America, his first concert experience, and what he has been listening to lately.
New Times: How are you?
John Waters: I'm well. I'm in Provincetown. But not on vacation. I write here. I have for many, many years. I'll go away to San Francisco for a little while in August. But I base myself here in the summers. But sometimes I have to go away for work. Like coming to see you!
I can't wait. I must congratulate you on your recent award at Outfest.
Oh thank you. It was kind of moving. There were so many people. They had this great clip reel. I said they should show this at my funeral. [laughs] It was like being at your funeral. But you get to enjoy it.
More importantly. What are you currently wearing right now?
[laughs] I am wearing a Gap T-shirt and Gap boxer shorts.
Wow. Really? So casual. I thought maybe you'd be wearing one of your famous suits.
I would be if it wasn't a phone interview. But I don't have to get dressed like me today. I just got back from swimming in the ocean. And there is nobody who lives around me. That's the greatest thing about being self-employed. People always say to me, "How do you have the motivation to work every day?" [laughs] Because I can go to work in my boxer shorts! However, I am going out to dinner tonight, so I am going to slip into something more fancy.
Which of your suits is your favorite?
Well, you know I love Comme des Garçons and Issey Miyake. I wore this insane suit when I did my show recently; I'll probably wear it when I come to Florida. I have to spell the name, it's so hard to pronounce; he's a Belgian designer that I really like. He's really radical. The suit is so ludicrous that if I wore it on the street and got beat up, the people would get off when the jury saw it. Walter Van Beirendonck. So he's a really good, new, radical fashion designer.
But clearly Comme des Garçons is my favorite. I wrote about Rei Kawakubo [the designer] a lot in Role Models. And I accepted the big fashion award that's like the Oscars this year for her in New York. She's like my leader.
I know you're working on a new book, Car Sick, and you can't really talk about it. Since we're on the topic of fashion, can you at least say what you wore while hitchhiking across the States?
Well, that's part of talking about the book! [laughs] Actually, I did wear one suit. I thought it was Comme des Garçons, but it was actually Issey Miyake. I travel light. People thought I was homeless. You know, wearing Japanese designers looks like you're homeless anyway, even when you're at elegant events. When I accepted the award for Rei Kawakubo, I said, "She lets us be stylish in secret." Because most people think we're poor when we have on her outfits.