Rated NC-17, A Dirty Shame is about Slyvia Stickles (Ullman), a mild-mannered, sex averse, Baltimore housewife, who is struck on the head one day and, due to her injury, suddenly goes sex mad. The new world she explores, that of the most bizarre -- and mostly real (!) -- sex fetishes found in The Dictionary of Filth (a real book and Waters's bedside reading), is perfect territory for the man who became famous for creating Pink Flamingoes and Female Trouble. It is not the first of his films that's received an NC-17, but it was still a shock for him and New Line when the MPAA slapped the former "X" rating on his film. "I made the movie I wanted to make," says Waters. "I wouldn't change a thing." But the week the MPAA was passing judgment on his movie, the prison photos from Abu Ghraib prison hit the news and it made the subject of a "sex comedy" seem all the more inappropriate. "Lindsay England is from Maryland," Waters says proudly about the moon-faced Buck Private at the center of the prison sex photo scandal. "Still, I really feel if Bill Clinton were President, we would have gotten an R," Waters claims.
As the preacher who saves Sylvia, the charismatic leader of the Sex Addicts, Ray-Ray Perkins, is Jackass star and rising movie actor Johnny Knoxville (who was recently cast in the Dukes of Hazzard). And not surprisingly, Waters was a fan before they met. Knoxville is delighted: "When guys like John Waters and Quentin Tarrantino tell me that Jackass: The Movie has influenced their work, I'm really amazed by that." But it's true. Apparently Tarrantino, in particular, is alleged to have built whole segments of Kill Bill around the mayhem of Knoxville's stunt art. "I am really honored to get to work with John, I've been a fan of his for years," Knoxville says. And when his character in Dirty Shame is compared to Elmer Gantry, Knoxville surprises everyone. "You know the first line in Elmer Gantry. I do. ‘Elmer Gantry was drunk.'" Who knew Knoxville could quote Sinclair Lewis?
Of her long-standing relationship with John Waters, actress Mink Stole is clearly proud to have been a part of his long and legendary career. "I met John when I was 18 and I was in my first John Waters film when I was 19." She's been in every one of his films since. "This is a family," she says. "We've had the same set designer and the same crew in many cases since 1972. John is a cottage industry in Baltimore and the city opens its doors for him whenever he is making a new film. They love him. So do I." Ms. Stole plays the wonderfully named Marge The Neuter in this film. But her greatest joy was being in Waters seminal works. "I think Female Trouble is his masterpiece," she says. "Of the early years I mean." And, in a sense, A Dirty Shame is a return to that age of daring -- fun, but definitely edgier than recent more mainstream films he's made. Those who've seen A Dirty Shame, and like it, say that it draws on the daring of the early years and combines that with the skills Waters has learned from making bigger budget "Hollywood films" like Serial Mom (another Mink Stole fav), Hairspray and Cry-Baby. But mostly it is yet another fun foray into the mind of John Waters, world's oldest teen provocateur.
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