I Never Thought I'd Have Dinner With John Waters, But Then I Did, Because Life Is Strange
I have been helping promote Camp, Trash, Filth: John Waters Visits Regina, an eight-day event including a John Waters film festival, multiple screenings of Canadian shorts, artist talks, and live performances. The only extra I expected on top of my pay was a ticket to John's "This Filthy World" talk on June 24th, because seeing John Waters in person after 25 years of adoration? Yes, please.
Regina is by no means a cultural hub that attracts celebrities, so I have no expectation of running into them randomly since our film industry was summarily shut down by our myopic Saskatchewan government. Before that, though, I had a few small run-ins. One time, Wes Bentley, who played amateur videographer Ricky Fitts in American Beauty, bought my friends a round of drinks, and I absent-mindedly thanked him by rubbing his belly, which was a touch intimate and is not how you're supposed to express gratitude to famous near strangers.
Another time, John Corbett (Northern Exposure and Sex and the City) captured my hand while we spoke in a pub, and when he started talking to other people, he just didn't let go for several minutes, so I stood there holding John Corbett's hand until I couldn't stand how weird it was to be standing around holding someone's hand who'd clearly forgotten I was attached to it. I extricated it slowly while saying "I'm just going to be over there now", and then I went to be over there.
And then another time, Judd Nelson (The Breakfast Club) was playing an arcade game at the pub, but he was blocking my way to the bathroom, so I asked him to move, and rather than step aside, he squinched up against the machine so he could keep playing, and I ended up having to slowly rub my bum along his bum as I squeezed by against the wall, because facing his bum seemed even weirder. This was not how my teenage self imagined rubbing bums with Judd Nelson.
Oh, and then there was that time I walked by a cab and said "Was that Vincent D'Onofrio (Law & Order) driving a cab in Regina?", and I walked back to check, and it was Vincent D'Onofrio, but he was only pretending to drive the cab because it was jacked up on some trailer with cameras mounted on it, and I was actually meandering through a movie set. Oops.
Those run-ins were all years ago, though, and this week I just expected to go to a great talk by the one and only John Waters and leave it at that. Instead, though, I got a last-minute invitation to a private dinner with him and few of the other filmmakers and performers, including Bruce LaBruce, Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan, and Lex Vaughn. Yowza.
And that's how I ended up at a dinner with John Waters in Regina, Saskatchewan, of all places.
I mostly kept myself calm by eating half the butter and dedicating a deeply lusty kind of attention to this puffed pastry cream of tomato soup. I'm pretty sure that soup is an incubus that hastens death, but I'll be back for it.
Part way through dinner, because being surrounded by all this incredible talent and food wasn't quite enough, a man popped in to serenade us with Phantom of the Opera, but sung in Romanian. When he hit high C, we all cheered.
John was lovely enough to come down to our end of the table, drag up a chair, and chat for a bit. We talked about his books and publishing and the resurgence of local bookstores. I did not run away or fart or accidentally hold my breath too long until I ended up awkwardly concealing my gasping, all of which I've done before in this kind of situation, so I win.
I don't have any better shots of dinner, because it was dark in there, and I was trying to be somewhat discreet. Plus, I was weighed down with several pounds of heavy cream, cheese, bread, and lemon potatoes. I just couldn't even imagine myself bouncing over to John Waters to pull him in for a selfie with all of that cementing me to my chair, and, quite frankly, I would have preferred death. It felt weird to reduce him to a collectible object at such a nice dinner. I'll save that for tomorrow night when he signs my book.
So now I've had dinner with John Waters. What is this life?