May 23, 2000

John Waters made a film that’s rated PG. Who could’ve predicted that?

Hairspray was the first Waters film I saw. I was in 7th grade – young, impressionable, naive (okay, maybe not naive). From that moment on, I was in love. I had no idea what I was in love with, of course, until I had seen more John Waters’ films, but there was a glimmer of it in Hairspray. The underlying promise of perversity and depravity to be revealed with each new John Waters’ film that I would view.

Before Ricki Lake was a talk show queen, she was Tracy Turnblad. She was ‘pleasantly plump’ – but she could dance her ass off. Divine plays his last role on the big screen at Tracy’s mom. This is also the most celebrity cameo laden Waters’ film. He cashed in all his favors for this one.

Baltimore, 1962. Tracy gets on a teen dance show and tries to integrate it, while snagging the leading man. She must overcome overprotective parents, jealous competitors and racism. Hmmm, sounds like an Afterschool Special. Hairspray has got to be the most socially responsible film that John Waters has ever made and probably will ever make. Why?

Why not? If David Lynch, the reigning king of unintelligible cinema can make a G rated film, it’s not so hard to believe that John Waters would try it as well…of course, it is his only PG film, though Cry-Baby squeaks by with a PG-13. Think of it as John Waters for pussies.

I still watch Hairspray about once a month. Maybe next time I go to the Village, I’ll do the ‘dirty boogie.’


Year – 1988
Rating – PG
Runtime – 92 minutes
Genre – John Waters
Director(s) – John Waters
Writer(s) – John Waters
Actor(s) – Ricki Lake, Divine, Jerry Stiller, Sonny Bono, Blondie
BOB Rating – Four BOBs
Favorite Quote – "Oh my GOD! There's a colored person in my house!" - Prudence Pingleton (Jo Ann Havrilla)