John Waters: No Smoking

When I was in my teens in San Diego, I loved movies. I didn’t like all movies, I was more discriminating, or snobbish, depending on how you looked at it. I loved seeing movies at The Ken in Kensington, and The Cove in La Jolla. The Cove is no longer there. There was one in Hillcrest whose name I can’t remember anymore. But I remember seeing movies at these places, many many movies. Ran, Wish You Were Here, Blue Velvet, Eraserhead, 8 1/2, Stardust Memories, Stop Making Sense, Home of the Brave by Laurie Anderson, Akira, several Tournees of Animation, Heaven by Diane Keaton. Foreign, animation, old movies, great double features. Whoever made the decisions for The Ken did a great job. They printed a one-sheet featuring upcoming movies and I would make an effort to see as many as I could. Before the movies at the Ken, for a very long time, they would have a little “No Smoking” bumper play. It had John Waters in it and it made me laugh every time. I never saw it anywhere but the Ken. Where did it come from? I thought I’d never see it again. I was wrong. YouTube eventually provides everything. I regret that I cannot share with you the aging chairs, slightly sticky floors, or the good popcorn of The Ken in 1988. Howeverm it remains my great pleasure to share this small public service announcement with you:


Hello I’m John Waters and I’m supposed to announce there is no smoking in this theater, which I think is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard of in my life. How can anyone sit through a length of a film, and especially a European film and not have a cigarette? But don’t you wish you had one right now? Mmmmm mm mm mm. And I’m telling you, smoke anyway! It gives ushers jobs and if people didn’t smoke and there would be no employment for the youth of today so once again no smoking in this theater. Mmmmm.

I loved going to The Ken. I attended with my friends Erin, Dorene, Chris, and my parents and sister. But never all together. Sometimes I went alone. My friends did not ever see or interact with each other. There was something about me that needed to keep them apart. I think I told all my friends different vaguely untrue stories. Well, I didn’t exactly tell them stories, that would be poor lying. I referred to some events that never happened. I think I told slightly different stories to each friend. Not big lies, just small little lies to make myself seem more interesting, more desirable, more complicated, more creative. I was obviously quite complicated in my fantasies. There were truths too, the friendships were real. But I must say, I am disappointed in my past self as I remember this aspect of myself.

What’s really funny is all I wanted to do was post this John Waters video. I also knew I wanted to transcribe it, so that others might find it better. But writing is funny, sometimes what emerges is not what you intended. I regret that I lied. I’m glad of the opportunity to think about this aspect of my past.

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