I usually pack a book to read when I leave home for more than a weekend, so this time I happen to take with me “Role Models,” a series of interviews with people, famous and otherwise, by John Waters, the auteur film director of “Pink Flamingos” and “Hairspray” fame.
We soon find that Mr. Waters, who lives in Provincetown and who we’ve seen knocking around there, is giving his one-man show at the Unitarian Church at the end of the week, for one night only. We buy tickets, but also buy into the notion that if I bring my copy of “Role Models,” he will naturally sign my book. The VIP tickets, which accorded the public special access to Mr. Waters, are sold out, so I know this mission might present me with a challenge.
Friday finally arrives, but not before Paul and I discuss strategy. We case the church a few days before, speculating where Mr. Waters would be entering, where he would possibly walk to exit after the show, how to possibly corner him so he couldn’t escape without signing the book. If we hold him down forcibly, his signature might be difficult to read, we reason. This would take a little luck.
Cut to the end of his lurid, filthy, wildly inappropriate and very funny show, delivered from the pulpit of the church meeting house no less, and Mr. Waters disappears quickly down the side of the room. Just like that. This will be harder than we thought.
Then I scope out the VIP “lounge,” a tiny room with a cocktail bar set up across Commercial Street, for people who paid extra to chat with Mr. Waters after the show. There was just no way to gain access with my green ticket and not the sold-out yellow one. They were being strict about admittance. But Mr. Waters isn’t there yet, the doorman informs me; he’s still back at the church getting changed and resting a little.
Back to the church I go, and I grovel a little — and even bat my eyes, for what it’s worth — book in hand, to one of the event workers. Wait outside the front door, I am told, and Mr. Waters will be happy to sign your book. I stand there, strangely alone, for a few minutes when I hear mumblings inside. Something about “one person outside,” “has your book to sign,” or something like that.
Mr. Waters comes out alone, I gush a little about not being an autograph hound but could you please… But of course I know there’s no need for all this. The autograph is mine.
Before I can finish my hastily rehearsed plea, he takes my book, asks my name, and signs the title page. He can’t have been more gracious, and natural . All the while I can’t believe I was completely alone with John Waters on the lawn of a beautiful church.
I couldn’t have asked for more, and I couldn’t have conceived of a more satisfying ending. Especially when you think of the VIP room, which in retrospect seems so not-John Waters. He should have forced the elite ticket holders to gather at the Old Colony Tap.
Didn’t the organizers read his book?