John Waters’s Favorite Bars

Question: You must know some great offbeat bars around the country. What are they like?

John Waters: I do, but I don’t know that there are any left in New York, really.  There’s places I go, but they’re all filled with irony.  They’re all faux-something.  The fact that you move to New York makes you faux-something.  There’s bars in Baltimore that I take New York friends to that are really alarmed by them.  They can’t believe they’re out... that would be impossible to have in New York because they’re blue collar bars.  They’re like, they don’t have that here.  Maybe they have it in Queens, but they’re not going to have it in Manhattan.  You can’t even have hipster bars here.  You have to live in Brooklyn because it’s too expensive to live in Manhattan.  

So, I’m just saying, I do know there’s bars in Baltimore.  I know a few in San Francisco where I live.  I know really none in Manhattan.  I mean, there’s places I go that I like, but I can’t say that I know a real dive bar that is filled with characters that are New York characters.  There probably is, I don’t know it.   

What makes a bar great?

John Waters: For me, undiscovered... Blue-collar definitely.  A certain tension from the type of people that go there, and rap music.  I always love to have rap music.  It keeps away a lot of people I don’t like.  I especially love gay bars that have rap music.  That really works.  There’s only, I’ve only been to about two in my whole life... And not a totally black one either.  Just like where it plays.  Because rap music, for some reason, really alienates gay people, which makes me laugh.

What else makes John Waters laugh?

John Waters: Wit makes me laugh, not jokes.  I hate when people say, I have a joke to tell you.  I go, "ah, la, la, la, please." I hate it when somebody tells me a joke because they’re never funny.  But I like people’s wit, I like to be surprised.  Or I like somebody that is totally clueless that says something that takes my breath away, just overheard dialogue, like the guy I asked in the bar, “What do you do for a living?”  And he said, “I trade deer meat for crack.”  He was serious.  He wasn’t telling me this... but what dialogue.  I could inspire an entire movie from that one line because there’s a lot of backup questions there.  But unfortunately, he was at my house and my friends said, “I’ll get rid of him because there were a bunch of people that came over after a bar... not for anything as exciting as you might imagine.

Recorded September 10, 2010
Interviewed by Max Miller

Waters tells about some of his favorite bars, including those rare gay bars that play rap music. "Rap music, for some reason, really alienates gay people, which makes me laugh."

Live on Monday: Does the US need one billion people?

What would happen if you tripled the US population? Join Matthew Yglesias and Charles Duhigg at 1pm ET on Monday, September 28.

Universe works like a cosmological neural network, argues new paper

Controversial physics theory says reality around us behaves like a computer neural network.

Credit: sakkmesterke
Surprising Science
  • Physicist proposes that the universe behaves like an artificial neural network.
  • The scientist's new paper seeks to reconcile classical physics and quantum mechanics.
  • The theory claims that natural selection produces both atoms and "observers".
Keep reading Show less

Learn innovation with 3-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn

Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in America with three Michelin stars, joins Big Think Live.

Big Think LIVE

Having been exposed to mavericks in the French culinary world at a young age, three-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn made it her mission to cook in a way that is not only delicious and elegant, but also expressive, memorable, and true to her experience.

Keep reading Show less

We studied what happens when guys add their cats to their dating app profiles

43% of people think they can get a sense of someone's personality by their picture.

Photo by Luigi Pozzoli on Unsplash
Sex & Relationships

If you've used a dating app, you'll know the importance of choosing good profile pics.

Keep reading Show less

Should you grow a beard? Here's how women perceive bearded men

Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"

Photo Credit: Frank Marino / Unsplash
Sex & Relationships
  • A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
  • Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
  • Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Keep reading Show less

Quarantine rule breakers in 17th-century Italy partied all night – and some clergy condemned the feasting

17th-century outbreaks of plague in Italy reveal both tensions between religious and public health authorities.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, conflicts between religious freedom and public health regulations have been playing out in courts around the world.

Keep reading Show less