Friday A/V Club

When Robin Leach Met John Waters

Friday A/V Club: Lifestyles of the Rich and Strange


The tabloids have always run on a mixture of envy, aspiration, resentment, and sheer camp. So when a tabloid veteran named Robin Leach started a gleefully garish TV show called Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, that's the sensibility he brought to his series. Well, maybe not the resentment—but if you were inclined toward that yourself, he'd give you plenty of material.

Leach just died at age 76, and I find, looking back, that I have much more vivid memories of seeing him spoofed on Saturday Night Live than I do of his actual show. (This is known as "the Tom Snyder phenomenon.") So I don't have much to say about the man's work. But I can show you the camp side of his program in full self-conscious bloom, with a segment he did on the filmmaker John Waters:

Waters gamely plays his decadent part, coming across as a combination of Andy Warhol and Vincent Price. But when the talk turns to Baltimore, he slips in a little Norman Rockwell hometown pride. "Hollywood's a great place that's built on insincerity and fake glamour and everything I believe in," he says. But "I live here because I'm inspired here….I wish everybody stayed home where they grew up. Think how great America would be. You'd go to Indiana to be on David Letterman, you'd go here to be— It would be much more fun, instead of just going to two cities."

(For past editions of the Friday A/V Club, go here.)

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11 responses to “When Robin Leach Met John Waters

  1. Well, at least there’s two stories not based on ‘Trump is a big poopyhead’.

  2. Lifestyles was fun. 80’s teenager me thought all the shiny stuff was exciting.

  3. I always thought Leach’s show was pornographic (in the orginal sense of the word). Given the Asia Argento story below, do we really want to know about the doings of the rich and strange?

  4. I think I’ve seen all John Waters movies; I hope I have, and I hope he makes more. Didn’t like all of them, but even the less interesting ones never seemed like a waste of time.

    1. Polyester is funny enough to make up for the lesser movies.

  5. I’ve never been a fan of John Waters films, but I’ve always been a fan of John Waters.

    1. That’s a good way to put it. I was very happy to have seen some of his movies, the rest were not a waste of time but not something I’d want to see again; I was probably hoping more John Waters would leak through for the full length, but they were like a short story that got expanded to a two hour movie and would have been better off as a half hour TV show.

    2. his Simpsons episode is a top-ten

  6. I found Water’s Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America a real treat. Okay, skip the first 2 sections, which are best case & worst case fantasies.
    The final section documenting the actual trip will give you hope that all is not lost.
    It’s actually a very nice look at ‘ordinary Americans’. Read it if you like him or his work.

  7. John Waters’ “No smoking in this theatre” promo:

  8. I recall seeing Polyester, at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco.

    We were given Odorama cards. The cards were divided up into sections with numbers. During the film, a number would appear on screen, and you would scratch the numbered part and a scent would come off the card. There was a nasty scent when Divine let one loose. People were groaning all over the theatre.

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