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  • Briana Gonzalez

John Waters: Pope of Trash exhibition to open at the Academy Museum in September


A legend in the realm of queer cinema is being celebrated with the “first comprehensive exhibition” of his work at the Academy Museum in Los Angeles. John Waters, the Baltimore-based filmmaker known for his campy and controversial works such as Pink Flamingos and Hairspray, will be honored at the museum through a display of over 400 items — including screen-used props, costumes, and memorabilia related to his filmography.


The filmmaker’s career began in the late 1960s, paying homage to his upbringing in Baltimore and all the wacky characters residing in it, as well as the pop culture of the era. Dubbed “Dreamlanders,” Waters is known for his collaborations with a recurring cast of actors also (mostly) from Baltimore, most notably the drag queen Divine, whose career was launched through his appearances in Waters’ films. Despite his transgressive approach to filmmaking, Waters’ work has also managed to break into the mainstream — his 1988 film Hairspray was adapted into a popular Broadway musical and 2007 film of the same name.


The exhibition’s opening on September 17th will be accompanied by a screening of Waters’ 1994 film Serial Mom. Waters himself will be in attendance, with a conversation between him and the drag queen Peaches Christ preceding the film. On the same day, patrons of the museum also have a chance to meet the filmmaker at a signing for the exhibition’s companion catalog.


John Waters: Pope of Trash opens on September 17th, 2023, and runs through August 4th, 2024. In addition to the exhibition, the Academy Museum will be hosting a retrospective screening series of the one-of-a-kind filmmaker’s work in the months of September and October.


Tickets to the Academy Museum are $15 with a valid student ID and $5 for film screenings.



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