Since his teenage years, John Waters has used Baltimore, which he fondly dubbed the "Hairdo Capitol of the World," as the setting for all his films, forging an unwavering path in his quest to give bad taste a good name. In 1967, he made his first 16-mm film, Eat Your Makeup, the story of a deranged governess and her lover who kidnap fashion models and force them to model themselves to death. Mondo Trasho, Waters' first feature length film, was completed in 1969 despite production grinding to a halt when the director and two actors were arrested for "participating in a misdemeanour, to wit: indecent exposure."
In 1972 Waters created what would become the most notorious film in American independent cinema of the 1970's, Pink Flamingos. Centred on the battle to secure the title "Filthiest People Alive," Pink Flamingos turned Waters into a cult celebrity and went on to become a smash success.
In Hairspray (1988), Waters created "an almost big-budget comedy extravaganza about star-struck teenage celebrities in 1962, their stage mothers and their quest for mental health." The film was a box office and critical success, later turned into a Broadway production, with a remake of the film released in 2007 starring John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer and Christopher Walken. Later hit films include Cry-Baby with Johnny Depp and Serial Mom with Kathleen Turner.
Pink Flamingos, the ultimate trash masterpiece, was again in theatres for a 25th Anniversary re-release in 1997, complete with new footage. Commenting on the long-lasting popularity of the film, Waters proudly boasts, "it's hard to offend three generations, but it looks like I've succeeded."