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John Waters on Re-Upping His Punk Education and How Halloween Meltdown Festival Is “Its Own Tribe”

"The new new new new wave [of punk] -- that's what we're looking for now," Waters says

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John Waters Interview
John Waters, photo by Tiger Lily/Illustration by Steven Fiche

    John Waters is a punk who likes to party. While he’s not one for stage diving (back problems, as he tells Consequence via phone), when Waters is hosting the Oakland music festival Halloween Meltdown, he’s front and center, dancing along with the rest of the crowd. The event, which Waters has emceed for the last seven years, is a beacon to the punk community, uniting legendary acts — Kim Gordon and Bikini Kill have graced its stages in years passed — and punk protégés, like internet sensation The Linda Lindas.

    This year, on October 8th and 9th, you can expect to see Waters introduce bands like Amyl and the Sniffers, Sheer Mag, and Bay Area locals, Shannon and the Clams, to name a few.

    “She’s [Shannon Shaw of Shannon and the Clams] the first lady of the whole festival in Oakland,” Waters says. “I’ve introduced her more than Divine.”

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    Waters, of course, needs no introduction. The transgressive filmmaker first made a name for himself in the late ’60s with his low-budget, DIY flicks, before bestowing the world with his “trash trilogy,” Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, and Desperate Living, comedically indicting suburban America in the process. John Waters was punk before punk was a word, making him feel right at home amongst the festival attendees.

    “I’ve made friends there that I see every year,” Waters adds. “It’s like going to a great high school reunion in reform school.”

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    In fact, it’s the people, he explains below, that keep him coming back to Halloween Meltdown in the first place. Check out the full Q&A with Waters below, and grab tickets to the fest here.


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