John Waters may have reached international icon status but around Baltimore, he’s still the brilliant hometown weirdo whom locals are proud to embrace as their own, often in fittingly inappropriate ways.
A perfect example came on Saturday, when Waters spent hours at Atomic Books signing hundreds of copies of his new book “Role Models” — a series of essays paying homage to the misfits and heroes he looks up to.
The crowds began waiting an hour before the event and by the time doors opened at 7 pm, the line was three people-thick and wrapped around the corner of Falls Road and 36th Street.
There was a woman whose purple dress was covered with black handgun silhouettes, a man reading Winston Churchill and complaining about inane tweets, Rebecca Hoffberger, the founder of the American Visionary Art Museum, videographer Bill Hughes, who had bit parts in “Pecker” and “A Dirty Shame” (“I played against type — I was a sex addict!”), a lot of very black and very red hair and several fellows who were dead ringers for Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons.
Soon after the event began, a man pulled up across the street from the store, was helped into a wheelchair by a passenger, wheeled up past hundreds of people in line, threw himself onto the sidewalk on his knees (he was wearing knee pads) and, grinning and clutching a sheet of X-rays, tried to crawl through the entrance, screaming something along the lines of, “John! Man with broken legs! Sign my X-rays!”
When asked how he injured himself, the man, who identified himself as Scott Linardi, said he had fallen out of a window.
“Me and John go way back!” Linardi cheerfully told The Brew, a few minutes after he was overheard asking who everyone was waiting for, before making his grand invalid entrance.
Needless to say, Waters signed his new friend’s medical documents, refreshingly illustrating that in addition to relating to unconventional role models on the page, he’s friendly to them on the street.