John Waters is in a great mood. Once his 1970 shocker “Multiple Maniacs” was a scourge: an underground grinder that played less than 20 cities and enraged the critical establishment. Now it’s been lovingly, beautifully restored — by Criterion, no less — and, on top of that, is getting glowing reviews. On the day of its re-release in theaters, Waters has taken a break from his usual long summer stint in Provincetown — where he’s vacationed for 52 years — to come to New York and reminisce about the time he made a movie in which Divine plays a thief-turned-murderer who goes too far, in a film that goes too far itself. Indeed, this is the one where the actor is raped by a lobster.
The budget for this came from a loan from your dad. How long did it take to pay it back?
Up to when we made “Pink Flamingos.” I think he was shocked when I paid him back, because they thought this [one film] would be it. “Go get a job!” But I paid it back, even though they were horrified, because nobody said it was good. And we had already been arrested while making “Mondo Trasho,” on the campus of where my father went to college. They were not thrilled. They never saw this one. I think it’s the only one they never saw. I’m glad they never saw it.
Well, the opening was shot on their front lawn.
You can see my childhood bedroom! I saw it today and for a second you can see the senior citizens home where my grandfather died. I never saw that. The restoration made me see that!
What kinds of things did you wind up spending the budget on?
I’ll tell you what we spent it on: Tent rental, costumes for the soldiers and the National Guard at the end, and the police uniform, which we didn’t take back. We stole it and used it on the road. We would make appearances and have a fake cop bust us. And then [we spent money on] the film. It wasn’t digital; you had to take every shot, get it developed, come back.
The giant lobster, aka “Lobstora,” looks sort of pricey.
The lobster didn’t cost that much. Vincent Peraino made it. He had just graduated from art school and went on to a very distinguished career in showbiz. [Ed. His stints include production design for both “Homicide” and “The Wire.”] You can see the chicken wire. When the lobster pulls away it leaves a couple legs lying on the couch. They just fell off.