The shock auteur is back in US cinemas with his second and arguably most extreme film. He shares his thoughts on Trump, Spring Breakers and fake vomit
Hi, John! Where are you?
Im in Provincetown. This is my 52nd summer Ive been here. (1)
Youre about to rerelease a restored version of your second film, Multiple Maniacs, into cinemas to shock a whole new generation. It stars Divine as the crazed impresario of a depraved freak show. How do you feel it plays now 46 years after it originally opened? (2)
Maybe it works better now than it did then. I dont know! Well see. Ive seen it with one audience and it seemed to play pretty well. People seemed startled by it, and it was an audience that had seen everything.
This was my trainer wheels for Pink Flamingos (3). This was when I finally got my voice even though it was too loud and too long. Its making fun of hippie rules of the era, the same way that I make fun of political or gayly correct rules today. I think its exactly like what all my work has been like from the very beginning, really.
How did hippies react to your gonzo vision back in the day?
They liked it! Who came were bikers though. And crazy gay people. And speed freaks. People on LSD. They were all radical within their own community and they responded to it very well.
This was in the peak of peace and love, but it was also at the peak when everything fell apart like crazy. There was such a war going on then between the hippies and the straight world; and straight didnt mean heterosexual it meant you didnt smoke pot or you didnt think the revolution was going to happen.
I read the original negative of the film was kept in your closet before being moved to your attic. Had you even wanted to rerelease it and have it restored?
Ive been trying to get this released for a long time. Basically when the Lincoln Center had a big retrospective of my work and they showed the last 60mm print, the people from Criterion were there and they called (4). I had no idea what they could do with restorations what they could make it look like.
They asked if I wanted to keep it exactly as is, with every mistake in there. I said,
Are you kidding me? I never purposely had mistakes in there! I dont want the splice marks to show, I dont want the dirt in the lens! Make it look good! Now it looks like a bad John Cassavetes movie.
What do you make of Multiple Maniacs returning during the Trump-era?
Lets hope that its not the era of Trump. That would mean he wins.
OK an era during which a reality star can get this far in the race to become president.
Oh, I lived through Nixon. I lived through Reagan. They were all horrible. [Laughs] Would Trump be offended by Multiple Maniacs? Probably not.