Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Waters Run

These bits are from a week-old interview in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Q It's been your job for about the past 40 years to think up shocking ideas, and --

A No, no, no, I'll stop you on that one. I don't agree with shocking. If I was just trying to be shocking, my career would have stopped in 1972. I never tried to top it. I tried to surprise you and make you laugh at things that aren't safe to laugh at. It's easy to shock. It's harder to surprise people and make 'em laugh.

Q Anyway, surprising ideas. The question then is, does it get harder --

A No, every day I'm inspired by things. I live in Baltimore, that always inspires me. Things happen to me in my daily life that are funny every day. I was in a bar in Baltimore and I asked a guy what he did for a living. He said, "Can I be frank? I trade deer meat for crack." I can't think that up. I could think of three movies about him. I mean, does he wait at a deer crossing sign and gun it when he needed a fix? It takes a while to get deer meat so you have to plan ahead, which isn't what most junkies do. Little things like that, anything can inspire me.

Q A couple weeks ago we had a case of somebody seeming normal but behaving oddly --

A Oh, at the airport! I hear that airport is becoming a big tourist attraction. I want to make a movie about it. "The Last Stall on the Left." Sex in a public bathroom? How could you? In every airport bathroom it's very crowded. It's in the main airport, eh? I have to go there. Which stall was it, do you know?


Q But what about "Hair --

A That's the most devious thing I ever did. Middle American families are going to "Hairspray" and seeing two men singing a love song. They're clapping and encouraging their 15-year-olds to date black guys. If I ever did anything perverse, that's it.

Q But it's been very well- receiv --

A Of course it has, that's what's subversive about it! They don't see. I'm an insider now. I'm the establishment. Isn't that hilarious? I've always wanted to sell out. Nobody would buy me.


Q You're at work on a children's film?

A I'm hoping to make it. We'll see if anybody gives me the green light. I'm in the middle of it. It's a terribly wonderful children's Christmas adventure called "Fruitcake." That's about all I say about it because after you do something, you have to talk about it the rest of your life.

Q What was your favorite movie as a kid?

A Always "The Wizard of Oz," because I wanted to be the witch. In "Cinderella" I rooted for the stepmother. ... I rooted for the queen in "Snow White," I rooted for Captain Hook. Always I was on the wrong side. Which continues.

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