Touring indie band picks up hitchhiker who looks like John Waters. It was John Waters.

Indie band Here We Go Magic is driving across America on tour. Earlier this week, they spotted legendary director John Waters hitchhiking by the side of the road with a hat that said "Scum of the Earth." DCist has the story, and a followup interview with the band.

So what happened once the car pulls up alongside him and he gets in the van? We pulled up and we saw him and everyone went, "That's definitely John Waters." We opened the door and I said, "Hello how you doing? Where ya coming from?" And he said Baltimore. We were like, "Uh huh," totally knowing that he was from Baltimore. So we said, "Come on in!" He got in the van and he got all tangled up in the seat belt, it was really adorable. That was the first thing that happened. We're traveling in a van and there are all these seat belts that block your way. You know, the ones that go from the side to the seats in the middle.

So he was totally tangled and he didn't even remove himself. He just sort of sat down, entrenched in seat belts. He was a perfect gentlemen. We addressed the fact that we knew it was John Waters and he very calmly accepted that information. It sort of rolls on from there. The shock of the event wore off pretty quickly in exchange for the warmth and the kindness and cleverness of this human being that's now sitting next to you. He became a human being very quickly. He answered every single question and he was even a little shy about photos. Finally it was like, "My mom wants a picture" and "Do you mind if I Tweet this" and he was fine with it. We were like, "What on earth are you doing this for?" He was like, "I have a lot of control in my life and I just wanted to let go of the reins a little bit, have an adventure." He's such a true artist and it's so cool!

Hitchhiking Director John Waters Picked Up In Ohio By Indie Rock Band

Band Who Picked Up Hitchhiking John Waters Talks About Their Six Hours With The Director

(Image: @turnerjen, "Who knew I'd be tearfully leaving john waters on the side of the highway today...)


  1. I always Imagined John Waters being a tall guy (say, over 6′) – that guy on John’s right must be a giant!

    1. IMDb says that John Waters is 6′-2″, which means that he’s probably 5′-11″.

      1.  nah, he’s over 6′.  i’ve seen him around town from time to time.

        fun fact: the last movie he shot, A Dirty Shame, was filmed around the corner from my house.  we saw him and his film crew quite a bit during filming.

  2. i’m torn between being in awe of him for continuing to push boundaries, and being worried for his safety on his hitchhiking runs.

    1. Have you ever actually hitchhiked? I have quite a lot, in a few different countries (including America), and think you might be surprised how amazingly nice everyone you meet is. I know there’s a lot of movies portraying the opposite, but in my opinion they’re all just trying to sell what I call “the myth of the dangerous stranger”.

  3. Ok, I’m sorry, but seeing John Waters on the page followed by a picture of “cupcakewurst” reminded me a little too much of the last scene in Pink Flamingos

    Unicorn Chaser. Now.

    John Waters turns up so many places in Bmore, it’s no big deal if you end up sitting next to him at a bar, the row behind him at the movies, etc… You just say hi if he’s not busy.

    1. John Waters turns up so many places in Bmore, it’s no big deal if you end up sitting next to him at a bar, the row behind him at the movies, etc…

      In Palm Springs, we have that exact same phenomenon, only with Barry Manilow.

      1. And speaking of John Waters and Barry Manilow, Mr. Waters was in Palm Springs for a gig and went to visit the Kaufmann House, which had been beautifully restored to its mid-century glory after being glopped up with campy faux-rococo decorations by its former owner, Barry Manilow.  After hearing about the details of the $5 million restoration from owner Beth Harris, he squinted at her and said, “You just ruined it, didn’t you?”

    2.  i like the fact that he’s a pretty nice guy most of the time.  i just wish he’d bought the Senator.  he could have saved it. :(

  4. What’s with the headline’s change in tense? A third sentence would help: 

    “Touring indie band picks up hitchhiker who looks like John Waters. It was John Waters. It still is John Waters too.”

  5. Totally not OK that this has not happened to me (picking up John Waters, not getting picked up by some touring band.)

  6. I picked up a hitchhiker once. It wasn’t John Waters.

    I did see John Waters at Coachella a couple years ago. I’m guessing that it was his idea; AFAIK they don’t typically have speakers rather than music. He was awesome, though, told some great stories and answered questions shouted from the (small) crowd.

  7. Okay, so I want to believe this is real & not staged, but has anyone ever explained why John Waters did this?  Did he continue to hitchhike?

    1. in the longer article, he says his world is pretty structured, and he likes to shake things up by loosening the reins once in awhile. apparently, he’s done this several times over the years. what i want to know is, why are we just hearing about this now? surely others have recognized him who have access to the internet.

      1. I thought that we as a society had agreed that ‘people who go online’ and ‘people who leave the house’ don’t have much overlap.

        1. Have you seen this cat video? It is DA BOMB!

    2. “has anyone ever explained why John Waters did this?”
      It’s actually a hell of a lot of fun, some of the time, or at least a hellacious adventure. It’s been totally eclipsed as a method of getting somewhere free by the existence of Craigslist ride boards and the like, but it’s not the scary axe-murderer-horrorshow that it’s cracked up to be.

      1. I completely understand the concept of hitching a ride to mix things up. And have picked up hitchhikers myself even in the confines of NYC back in the 1980s, but it still seems odd.  Somehow it feels like that time David Lynch was sitting on a traffic median with a cow in Los Angeles… That was a stunt for a movie but that was still unexpected.

  8. Dear John Waters: you are an American icon, treasured by millions for pushing the boundaries of film and popular culture. Bask in our love and continue to be fabulous.

  9. True about running into John Waters everywhere in B-more…perfect that Here We Go Magic picked him up, as they have a big following in some of the same weed-friendly circles as those who laugh at some of Waters weirder stuff.

    Here’s a weed-friendly tune from their newly-released album:

  10. I saw John at Penn Station in Baltimore once. I think he was taking the train to NYC. Baltimore’s a pretty small town vibe, everyone looks familiar after a while.

  11. Now I feel trumped over my story, which was (me) being picked up hitchiking at 11 PM in Wyoming on my way to the WTO protests in Seattle by an unfamiliar band, who at first I thought was some kind of commercial hipster ska band that was at least somewhat sympathetic to my punk-rock politics, and who many, many hours later admitted that they were a Christian rock/ska band (they weren’t going to the protest). Watching them dance around the issue for half the night was freaking hilarious in retrospect. 

  12. Can I share an only tangentially related story? In about 1969, my mom was hauling the four of us kids home from Arizona in a station wagon when she had to pull over from exhaustion and heat (it was July). She found a city park in, I believe, Bakersfield, and let us out of the car to play, while she rested on the grass. We (ages 8 – 13) made ourselves welcome with a bunch of hippies nearby who, it turned out, were a group called The Great Speckled Bird. They fed us cold porkchops while my mom, having decided they were ok folks, fell asleep…Wouldn’t happen today, I’d guess…

  13. Mr. Waters is real as a mofo, a straight-up type of cat.  It’s kind of too bad that he can’t just disappear like hitchhiking suggests  he was trying to do.  Anyone cool enough to pick up a hitchhiker is likely to be cool enough to recognize him and then he has to pose for their facebook profile etc.  On the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised if he liked the attention.  Keep on truckin’, Mr. W.

    As for personal hitchhiking comments:  the one time I did it, it was awesome.  Toronto to Awenda Provincial park and back, probably ’97.  Got rides from an African mining engineer who was thinking of switching to being a cop (Ray, who was a total mensch), a minivan full of a teen rave fans and two younger generations of sibs, and a bunch of other interesting folks.  Completely positive experience.

  14. Nice story, but I was a little disturbed by how they kept referring to John Waters as “it” and “that”.

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