Monday, August 03, 2009


From the book 'Role Models' by John Waters, to be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2010.

I am guilty, too. Guilty of using the Manson murders in a jokey, smart-ass way in my earlier films without the slightest feeling for the victims' families or the lives of the brainwashed Manson killer kids who were also victims in this sad and terrible case. I became obsessed by the Sharon Tate murders from the day I read about them on the front page of the New York Times in 1969 as I worked behind the counter of the Provincetown Book Shop. Later, when the cops finally caught the hippy killers and I actually saw their photos ("Arrest Weirdo in Tate Murders", screamed the New York Daily News headlines) I almost went into cardiac arrest. God! The Manson Family looked just like my friends at the time! Charles "Tex" Watson, a deranged but handsome preppy "head" who reminded me of Jimmy, the frat-boy-gone-bad pot-dealer I had the hots for in Catholic high school, the guy who sold me my first joint. There was Susan Atkins, a.k.a. Sadie Mae Glutz, devil go-go girl, with an LSD sense of humor just like Mink Stole's sister Mary (nickname: "Sick") whom I lived with at the time in Provincetown in a commune in a tree fort. And look at Patricia Krenwinkle, a.k.a. Katie, a flower-child earth-mother just like Flo-Ann who squatted with us that wonderful summer on Cape Cod. And, of course, my favorite, Leslie Van Houten, a.k.a. Lulu, "the pretty one". The homecoming princess from suburbia who gave up her title for acid. The all-American girl who went beyond insanity to unhinged criminal glamour just like Mona, my last girlfriend, who took LSD and shoplifted and starred in my underground movies all under my influence. Until, that is, the day she caught me in bed with a man (who looked kind of like Steve "Clem" Grogan, another Manson fanatic) and dumped the contents of an entire garbage can on us as we lay sleeping.

"The Manson Family" were the hippies all our parents were scared we'd turn into if we didn't stop taking drugs. The "slippies", as Manson later called his followers, the insane ones who didn't understand the humor in Yippie Abbie Hoffman's fiery speeches on his college lecture tours when he told the stoned, revolutionary-for-the-hell-of-it students to "kill their parents". Yes, Charlie's posse were the real anarchists who went beyond the radical SDS group's call to "Bring the War Home". Beyond blowing up their parents' townhouses, draft boards, even the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Sure, my friends went to riots every weekend in different cities in the '60s to get laid or get high, just like kids went to "raves" decades later. But, God, this was a cultural war, not a real one and the survivors of this time now realize we were in a "play" revolution, no matter what we spouted. But the Manson Family! Yikes! Here was the real thing -- "punk" a decade too early. Dare I say it? Yes, the filthiest people alive.

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