In this bright new year, we offer you the following advice for functional freaks from John Waters, excerpted from his memoir Role Models.
1. I’m a fascist about my work habits and I expect you to be, too. Never have a spontaneous moment in your life again. If you’re going to have a hangover, it should be scheduled on your calendar months in advance. Rigid enjoyment of planning can get you high. Militant time-management will enable you to ignore how maladjusted you would be if you had the time to notice it in the first place. Discipline is not anal compulsion; it’s a lifestyle that breeds power.
2. For all the neurotics who may have felt a little blue one day and were unfairly diagnosed and overly medicated before they could even try to talk out their problems, I have some advice. It’s appropriate to be depressed sometimes. Who wants to be “even” day after day? If you just killed three people in a DWI accident, you should feel bad. If your whole family molested you in a giant basket on Easter morning, you have a right to be grumpy every once in a while. But feeling down can make you feel up if you’re the creative type. The emotional damage may have already been done to you, but stop whining. Use your insanity to get ahead.
3. You should never just read for “enjoyment.’” Read to make yourself smarter! Less judgmental. More apt to understand your friends’ insane behavior; or better yet, your own. Pick “hard books.” Ones you have to concentrate on while reading. And for God’s sake, don’t let me ever hear you say, “I can’t read fiction. I only have time for the truth.” Fiction is the truth, fool! Ever hear of “literature”? That means fiction, too, stupid.
4. Parents should understand that their young kids are not like them and need to have the privacy to fantasize both their good and bad desires. What you may find shocking about the perverse behavior of your child may not even be remembered by your offspring later in life. But what you may pooh-pooh as their silly young fears can be more debilitating to your children than you will ever imagine.
5. Everybody has his or her “love map,” as the late, great, sadly discredited Baltimore sexologist John Money once called our predetermined sexual types. And we can never really change our love maps, but we can learn to see them coming. A healthy neurotic knows his type can and probably will bring emotional trouble combined with a powerful sexual wallop. But we can see, through effective therapy, that we have a choice. Yes, our love maps may be bad for us, but WOW! I won’t find this kind of sex in a healthy relationship. So is it worth it? If it is, yes, you are fucked-up, but as long as you choose it, you are also neurotically happy.
6. You don’t need fashion designers when you are young. Have faith in your own bad taste. Buy the cheapest thing in your local thrift shop — the clothes that are freshly out of style with even the hippest people a few years older than you. Get on the fashion nerves of your peers, not your parents — that is the key to fashion leadership. Ill-fitting is always stylish. But be more creative — wear your clothes inside out, backward, upside down. Throw bleach in a load of colored laundry. Follow the exact opposite of the dry cleaning instructions inside the clothes that cost the most in your thrift shop. Don’t wear jewelry — stick Band-Aids on your wrists or make a necklace out of them. Wear Scotch tape on the side of your face like a bad face-life attempt. Mismatch your shoes. Best yet, do as Mink Stole used to do: go to the thrift store the day after Halloween, when the children’s trick-or-treat costumes are on sale, buy one, and wear it as your uniform of defiance.
7. Nobody has to meet Tennessee Williams; all you have to do is reread his work. Listening to what he has to say could save your life, too.
Polaroid of Johnny by Danny Fields