John Waters on Profanity, Plastic Surgery for Pets, and Justin Bieber

His third solo show at Marianne Boesky Gallery is a must-see.

Will pets eventually (or can they now) get a nip and tuck when they age? How would Justin Bieber look after extensive plastic surgery? What happens to a filthy film when you strip out all the profanity? How far does one have to go to reinvent oneself?

John Waters takes on these pressing questions and many more in his third solo show at Marianne Boesky Gallery in Chelsea that opened earlier this month (See “John Waters Says Celebrity Is the Only Obscenity Left in the Art World“). “Beverly Hills John,” which runs through February 14, is a must-see in our opinion, and not just because the legendary gross-out filmmaker, famous for movies including Pink Flamingos, Hairspray, and Serial Mom, answered artnetNews’ serious and silly questions alike (See our teaser clip “Why John Waters Loves The Wicked Witch of the West.”

As Waters explained to us, “I always try to answer any questions with humor.” See why he would love to run a tabloid focused only on intellectuals, (it would be called Brainiac), what happens to iconic Ansel Adams photos when Waters reinvents them (a hilarious montage called Cancel Ansel), and how and why he applied a sadomasochism theme to a baby stroller. These and other works yield insight into how Waters’ brilliant, and delightfully warped mind works.

In leading a group of reporters through a tour of the show on opening day (January 9), Waters stopped in front of a wall-hung sculpture called RIP Mike Kelley, an homage to the late LA-based artist who committed suicide in 2012. As mention of the artist’s name instantly drew sad reaction from his listeners, Waters admonished them in his signature ebullient style, and without a trace of sarcasm: “Don’t feel bad for him, he got what he wanted, he was successful!”

Beverly Hills John (2012). Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York © John Waters

Beverly Hills John (2012).
Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York © John Waters

And speaking of success, one of the more hilarious, art-world insider pieces on view is an editioned C-print of red dots, those universal signifiers at galleries and fairs that a particular work has found a buyer. In this case the dots spell out the phrase “DID NOT SELL.” The title? Congratulations. Waters informed us that one had already sold on the opening day of the show.


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