No one knows more about everything—especially everything rude, clever, and offensively compelling—than John Waters. The man in the pencil-thin mustache, auteur of the transgressive movie classics Pink Flamingos, Polyester, the original Hairspray, Cry-Baby, and A Dirty Shame, is one of the world’s great sophisticates, and in Mr. Know-It-All he serves it up raw: how to fail upward in Hollywood; how to develop musical taste from Nervous Norvus to Maria Callas; how to build a home so ugly and trendy that no one but you would dare live in it; more important, how to tell someone you love them without emotional risk; and yes, how to cheat death itself. Through it all, Waters swears by one undeniable truth: “Whatever you might have heard, there is absolutely no downside to being famous. None at all.”
Studded with cameos of Waters’s stars, from Divine and Mink Stole to Johnny Depp, Kathleen Turner, Patricia Hearst, and Tracey Ullman, and illustrated with unseen photos from Waters’s personal collection, Mr. Know-It-All is Waters’s most hypnotically readable, upsetting, revelatory book—another instant Waters classic.
“That John Waters is a national treasure is a surety. Period. Thank you and good night . . . [Mr. Know-It-All] shows a vulnerability and an honesty and an almost frantic desire to impart to us, before he can no longer, his manic mantras, his obsessive treatises and his biting and blisteringly honest bons mots that are actually really enlightening life lessons.”—Alan Cumming, The New York Times Book Review
“That this Prince of Puke has become an accidental darling of American cinema and letters—an institution, however depraved—may be a dirty shame to [Waters], but it’s a blessing for the rest of us.”—Charles Arrowsmith, The Washington Post
“In Mr. Know-It-All, the curtain is pulled back and Waters’ life, a multi-decade exercise in adaptability, perseverance and ceaseless hustle, is revealed. The essays are hyper-driven with the caloric burn of nervous energy . . . Full of insight and scrappy, hard-earned smarts.”—Henry Rollins, Los Angeles Times
“[Mr. Know-It-All] is outrageous and, in ways that only the man who unleashed Pink Flamingos on an unsuspecting public could get away with, sentimental. It peers into the future with eyes both delightful and decadent, and looks backward with a nostalgia for things many of us never knew we missed . . . A delicious, deranged blend that may not be for everybody, and that’s just fine with [Waters].”—Chris Kaltenbach, The Baltimore Sun
“[Waters is] an indefatigable coiner of droll one-liners . . . Whether he likes it or not, [Waters] is a Great American Institution. Or maybe he belongs in an institution. Either way, we wouldn’t want to be without him.”—Michael Upchurch, The Seattle Times
“On a line-by-line basis, [Mr. Know-It-All] always sparkles.”—Katie Rife, The A.V. Club
“There’s no denying that Waters is a whip-smart . . . funny, multitalented and unique cultural icon.”—Alice Cary, Bookpage
"An exuberantly transgressive American filmmaker gets down, dirty, and weird about life, art, and career . . . Comic and rude but always compulsively readable, Waters demonstrates that he is not only first among Filth Elders; he is also a keen observer of American culture. Wickedly smart and consistently laugh-out-loud funny."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Nothing can squelch [John Waters'] outrageous imagination . . . If you don't laugh loud and often, check your pulse, then your breath on a mirror."—Ray Olson, Booklist
"Endlessly entertaining . . . Waters’s musings are as funny and eccentric as his films; longtime fans will be delighted with the treasure trove of insights into his brilliant oeuvre."—Publishers Weekly
Reviews from Goodreads
Somehow I became respectable. I don’t know how, the last film I directed got some terrible reviews and was rated NC-17. Six people in my personal phone book have been sentenced to life in prison. I did an art piece called...