John Waters hasn't directed a feature film since 2004's "A Dirty Shame," but his influence can be found in everything from "Jackass" to "RuPaul's Drag Race."
But the 75-year-old icon is not just resting on his reputation.
Before the end of the year, he'll do at least 16 live performances, including a stop this weekend in Minneapolis. He also has a new novel, "Liarmouth: A Feel-Bad Romance," on the way. He spoke to us from his office in Baltimore earlier this month as he was preparing to fly to Oakland, Calif., to host a punk-music festival.
Q: The last time you appeared in the Twin Cites, it was just before the pandemic.
A: I think I strolled on stage with a cavalier attitude, wearing a mask as a joke. I threw it into the audience. How unsafe was that?
Q: Did the quarantine hamper your creative process?
A: Not at all. I finished a novel in May. It's about a woman who steals suitcases in airports. It's a feel-bad romance. I totally rewrote my one-man show. I wrote every day, like I always do, from 8 to 11:30 a.m. Not starting at 8:01, not ending at 11:29. I get it done, always in the morning. I get dumber as the day goes along.
Q: What do you get from doing live performances that you don't get from film?
A: I think I always did them, even in the old days when my market was colleges and I was making art-exploitation films. I would introduce the movies. Then I would bring [character actor] Divine on stage. It kind of became like vaudeville. You get to stay in touch with fans all over the world and understand what people think is funny. It's kind of like market research.
Q: Do people today find things funny in a different way?
A: I used to worry about old, uneducated Republicans. Now I worry about young, rich, educated liberals. I believe in almost everything they stand for. It's the righteousness I have a problem with. I use humor as a weapon and sometimes it's not politically correct.
Q: The last movie you directed was 2004's "A Dirty Shame." Are you still interested in making movies?
A: Oh, yes. I've been paid to write a lot of them. They just don't get made.
Q: If a studio was to give you a $200 million budget, what kind of film would you make?
A: I'd make 10 movies. I don't like many special effects. A lot of times they feel like scientific experiments. Maybe I'd make a movie where everyone is a gigantic star, even the extras. "Oh, look who's walking down the street. It's Meryl Streep." No one has ever done that.
Q: Who's your favorite movie star that you've worked with?
A: Oh, don't ask me that. Too many of them are still alive. Divine was certainly my greatest story. "Serial Mom" was the best movie I ever made.
Q: You recently said that if there was a movie about Divine, she should be played by Lizzo. Why?
A: She features her body the way Divine did, almost like a terrorist act. I love that there's color-blind casting these days.
Q: What was the last TV show or movie you enjoyed?
A: The last thing I watched was the new TV version of "Chucky." I'm a big fan. I was in one of the "Chucky" movies. It's the No. 1 thing I'm recognized for when I'm on the New York subway. Kids recognize me from "Alvin and the Chipmunks." You've got to cover all the bases.
Q: You also recently appeared in an episode of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." As a true-crime buff, that must have been a treat.
A: I've actually been on it twice. I play a porn star, so it's not a big stretch. I'm also going to be on the upcoming season of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." I like being on big shows that people don't expect to see me on.
Q: I know that you have an expansive art collection. Which of your paintings means the most to you?
A: I have a print of Andy Warhol's "Jackie" that a girlfriend gave to me. That's how long ago it was. I still have it. I just donated my collection to the Baltimore Museum of Art when I'm dead. I told them I wanted them to name some bathrooms after me. They thought I was kidding. I wasn't.
'John Waters: False Negative'
When: 8 p.m. Fri. and Sat.
Where: Parkway Theater, 4814 Chicago Av. S., Mpls.
Tickets: $49-$149. Theparkwaytheater.com.