John Samuel Waters, Jr. (born April 22, 1946) is an American filmmaker, actor, stand-up comedian, writer, journalist, visual artist, and art collector, who rose to fame in the early 1970s for his transgressive cult films. Waters' 1970s and early '80s trash films feature his regular troupe of actors known as the Dreamlandersâamong them Divine, Mink Stole, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, and Edith Massey. Starting with Desperate Living (1977), Waters began casting real-life convicted criminals (Liz Renay, Patricia Hearst) and infamous people (Traci Lords, a former porn star). Waters skirted mainstream film making with Hairspray (1988), which introduced Ricki Lake and earned a modest gross of $8 million domestically. In 2002, Hairspray was adapted to a long-running Broadway musical, which itself was adapted to a hit musical film which earned more than $200 million worldwide. After the crossover success of the original film version of Hairspray, Waters's films began featuring familiar actors and celebrities such as Johnny Depp, Edward Furlong, Melanie Griffith, Chris Isaak, Johnny Knoxville, Martha Plimpton, Christina Ricci, Lili Taylor, Kathleen Turner, and Tracey Ullman.