National treasure John Waters, who wrote a book about hitchhiking from Baltimore to San Francisco at the age of 66, recently tried to catch a ride with a reporter from Greenwich Village to the Frick Collection at 70th St and Fifth Avenue.
The only place in the country Waters has never yet succeeded hitching is Manhattan, which is why he’s intent on trying again today. “I used to stand in front of the Holland Tunnel tollbooth in the ’60s, and no one would ever pick me up,” he says. Before he embarked cross-country, Waters wrote the first two sections of Carsick—one envisioning good rides, the other bad rides. In both cases, the fiction is far more eventful than the true-life bits. On the real trip, there were no sexual encounters, twisted or otherwise. “It’s very different hitchhiking when you’re 16 and when you’re 66,” says Waters. “I didn’t have any rabid gerontophiliacs pick me up.” He imagines what could go most wrong on our trip uptown. “The worst case scenario would be someone that didn’t speak the language, so we couldn’t really tell what they were doing,” Waters says. “But immediately the locks go down. And it smells. We ride one block, and they turn around and blow both our heads off.”
Why the Frick? “When Pink Flamingos first came out,” Waters says, “whoever ran the Frick wrote me a note about how much they liked it. My mother was really impressed.” Man, now I just want to hang out with John Waters and have him tell me stories.