John Waters was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1946. For those of you who don't know, Maryland can be a pretty strange place to grow up. Luckily for John, 1960's Baltimore had a few saving graces. Here he would meet the men and women willing to work in front of and behind the camera on his self-written, self-produced and independently financed movies. Although Baltimore has become a bit yuppified over the past 20 years, you can still visit Bob Adams' Fells Point thrift store Flashbacks for an autographed picture of the Egg Man, or check out Waters' Walk of Fame in front of the Senator Theater.
Over a period of more than 30 years, Waters has grown from a local boy making cheap, underground movies to a local man making counter-culture Hollywood comedies. But don't be fooled by the veneer - all of his films are shot on location in Baltimore and with very modest budgets. The star power of his post-Hairspray films demonstrate his influence and clout.
Waters writes all his own films, and the basic elements of filth and debauchery still exist in his screenplays - just in a more palatable fashion. Also present in many of his films are the plastic sincerity and squashed innocence of late 50's and early 60's Americana: Sweet mothers who make breakfast for a family of four versus cheap girls who have babies in the backs of cars.
John is also an accomplished writer and photographer. He has published two volumes of his journalistic exploits, one screenplay collection, and a great big book of pictures he took of his television.
Of course, he is most well known for breaking boundaries of acceptable filmmaking. Drugs, queers, abortion, religion - nothing is sacred in his field of vision. When asked about it, he says "secretly I think that all my films are politically correct, though they appear not to be. That's because they're made with a sense of joy." And perhaps that is why so many people from all around the world take such joy in his movies.
If you'd like to get an idea of Mr. Water's influences, check out these links to other directors and photographers:
There is also a biography and extensive filmography of Waters listed at the Internet Movie Database.
Or read Stephen Holden's review of the documentary Divine Trash for a glimpse into his past.