Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hearsay vs. Focus and Aim- The Zurkowski History of Hairspray

John Waters is a Baltimore icon who is known for making campy and bizarre movies that often star men dressed as women and sometimes offer accessories to watch with the movie. I hear he even had an “odor-ama” for one of his films called Polyester. That was until he released Hairspray, which not only became a mainstream movie, but also became a Broadway hit show. Little did I know that my family had a history with the movie, until I heard from my mother who coordinated the world premiere of Hairspray. Before becoming a teacher, Christine Zurkowski worked as a public relations professional representing several major motion picture companies on the East Coast. Her accounts, I say, included Warner Brothers, New Line Cinema, Disney, and other independent companies. Luckily for her company, they were hired to coordinate and host the world premiere of the new John Waters film, at the time, Hairspray at the Senator Theatre in Baltimore, Maryland. I hear this night was quite an extravaganza as Hollywood met Baltimore.
There took much preparation for such a showing coming to the city of Baltimore. Christine, herself, was asked to pick John Waters up from his downtown apartment and drive him to Press Junkets for his critical movie interviews. The reporters were urging to talk to Waters prior to the premiere. Christine claims that she had to drive Waters around in her small car, making small talk on her way to taking him to lunch after the interviews.  As if that wasn’t enough of a privilege, I say, Christine had to then go and pick up Ricki Lake and her mother from Penn Station at 1515 N. Charles Street. Because Ricki was a minor at the time, Christine remembers having to make sure that everything that the company requested was permitted by Jill Lake. Ricki and her mother were taken to a press interview and then on to her hotel to prepare for the showing that night.
The excited fans of Baltimore made sure that they were ready and appropriately attired for a premiere of a hopping 60’s-esque movie. The Baltimore hair salons were buzzing with customers who had heard that beehive hairdos were in for the night and teased hair was at least a must. It seems I understand that the bigger the hair, the better. Plus hair had to look authentically like the 60’s fashionable dos worn in the movie by characters such as Debbie Harry, rather than the unattractive do sported by Divine. Aquanet, they say, was the hairspray of choice. To go along with their beehives people were crowding up and down Reed St. to find some vintage 60’s dresses and skinny suits worn in the movie. Men, including my father, Paul, and his friend, Rich, had to find their vintage suits, while my mother and other women had to run out to find dancing 60’s dresses. Baltimore, I say, was not going to lay off on its preparation for a world premiere of a movie based in Baltimore.
Christine arrived at the Senator Theatre at around five that night of the showing. At this final point in the preparation, they described that the rich red carpet and lush velvet ropes just like a Hollywood event. Everyone fan was dressed and teased, ready to welcome the stars. Soon enough, I say, John Waters arrived, walked the carpet, and even imprinted his hand on the Theatre sidewalk.  Plenty of media was there to get the scoop on the happenings, and Christine illustrated that cameras were flashing exactly like they were in Hollywood. Other stars then began to arrive such as Ricki Lake, the legendary Divine, Rick Ocasek of the Cars, his wife model Paulina Porizkova, others who acted in the movie, and significant Baltimore dignitaries. Paul and Rich added to the lavishness by arriving in their timely 1966 Mini Cooper S, as I hear Christine requested. Paul and Rich were later asked to give up their seats in the movie, for Ricki and her mom, and they had to stand in the back of the full theatre.  It was unfortunate, I perceive, but Paul asserts that he was flattered to give up his seat for the main character of the premiere movie.
After the movie came the most avant garde part of the night. The raging after-party that my parents were allowed to go to was held at the Baltimore Museum of Art. For the night, there was fully catered food, open exhibits to view, and the elegance of the museum to celebrate such an amazing event in. Christine, she says, even went to peak at the Andy Warhol exhibition during the night. It was quite an experience, I understand, for Christine and Paul to be at such an official party with the talented stars of Hairspray. Overall, the entire evening was a success, and the movie paid off to catapult Ricki Lake’s stardom and solidify John Water’s work. Ironically, Divine suddenly died of an enlarged heart about a month after the premiere, and the actual movie was not quite popular until it became a cult classic in the 1990’s and was adapted into a popular Broadway show in the 2000’s. For us, I perceive, this world event made a momentous mark on the Zurkowski family history.
Focus and Aim 
The American filmmaker John Samuel Waters began his procession to fame in the early 1970’s when he began producing “transgressive cult films,” and He continued to grow in succession in the 1980’s when he produced “trash films.” Waters’ films had the same troupe of actors that appeared in all of his movies, known as his Dreamlanders. The Dreamlanders were once joined true convicted criminals, Liz Renay and Patricia Hearst, which John Waters casted for his 1977 film, Desperate Living. However, it wasn’t until Water’s endeavor to make a mainstream, Pg movie that he became most famous. The date of February 25, 1988 was that of which the movie Hairspray, directed, produced, and written by John Waters, premiered in the city of Baltimore, Maryland, where the movie was set. This was the event that began the progression to the peak of John Waters’ success.
The advertising and public relations company for the Baltimore/Washington area that was asked to assemble the gathering for the premiere was Eisner, Petrou, & Associates. Workers from the company had the jobs of setting up the theatre, getting press attention, reserving an outsized room for the after party, introducing the stars to the city, and other jobs that helped to create the essence of the premiere. Chrsitine Zurkowski, mother of Claire Zurkowski, as the executive of associations was asked to pick up John Waters from the Inn at The Colonnade located on University Parkway in Baltimore. From there Waters was taken to significant interviews that further justify his sophisticated point of view at filmmaking. Christine Zurkowski was also asked to pick up the teen protagonist of the movie Ricki Lake. She and her mother Mrs. Jill Lake were retrieved in the mid afternoon from Penn Station at 1515 North Charles Street in Baltimore, Maryland. Ricki Lake was a reported minor at the time, so each pursuit asked of her had to have the sanction from her mother. Lake’s interviews proceeded Waters,’ but did occur before Lake and her mother were taken back to their Baltimore hotel.
Twenty-four hours after the preparation and situation of the stars were settled, the premiere night began. Christine and her co-workers arrived at the merriment at five o’clock that afternoon of February 25, 1988. Because of the workers, a strip of red carpet was laid out, velvet rope strung, and the Senator Theater of Baltimore was cleaned for the premiere. Fans of Hairspray attended the premiere as well, and arrived in vigor with beehives and flouncy vintage dresses, in admiration of the film. Christine’s husband Paul Zurkowski and his friend also obliged and purchased 60’s suits on Reed Street to wear for the night. Paul Zurkowski, father of Claire Zurkowski, and his friend Rich drove to meet Christine at the theater in Paul’s 60’s vintage yellow Mini Cooper S.
 Importantly, the cast members that showed up included Ricki Lake, John Samuel Waters, Divine, Rick Ocasek of the Cars, his wife model Paulina Porizkova, other smaller cast members, and significant Baltimore dignitaries. Waters imprinted his hand into the Senator theater sidewalk to solidify his importance to the Baltimore entertainment and arts community. Once the movie started, the theater was reported over-crowded. Ricki Lake and her mother, whom showed up late to the showing, had to ask men to stand up for the star to have seats. Paul and Rich then had to get up for the Lakes and move to the back of the theater. The movie ran for precisely ninety-one minutes.
Subsequent to the world premiere came the after festivity held at the Baltimore Museum of Art on Art Museum Drive. There was a musical group there to provide music, a culinary troupe attending to cater, and collections open for the party goers to view while be present at the gala. All stars that attended the premiere presented themselves at the party and Christine, Paul, and Rich were also invited. By the end of the night, the Baltimore premiere was considered a considerable success. Successive to the party and the movie’s rekease, Ricki Lake later became a popular talk show host, John Water’s brought in a 12 million dollar advance in box office profit, and Hairspray became a musical in 2000 and was remade in 2007. Ironically, Divine died from an expanded heart on March 7, 1988, only 10 days after the premiere. For Christine and Paul Zurkowski, experiencing the noteworthy event became an important sector of the Zurkowski history.
Works Cited

Image of Christine and Paul at the afterparty

The Baltimore Museum of Art, 19th Century, Modern, & Contemporary Art, Baltimore, Maryland.          Web. 04 Sept. 2010. <>.
Cruz, By Gilbert. The Senator Theatre. Web. 04 Sept. 2010. <>.
"Hairspray (1988) (1988)." Box Office Mojo. Web. 04 Sept. 2010.                <>.
"Hairspray (musical)." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 04 Sept. 2010.                 <>.
"John Waters' Baltimore ::" Baltimore Restaurants, Museums, Inner Harbor, Ravens         Football, Orioles Baseball and More. :: Web. 04 Sept. 2010.              <>.
"John Waters Biography (1946-)." Film Reference. Web. 04 Sept. 2010.    <>.
Step)”, By. "Divine (actor)." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 04 Sept. 2010.                 <>.
Waters, By John. "THEATER - THEATER - Finally, Footlights On the Fat Girls -" The New       York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. 11 Aug. 2002. Web. 04 Sept. 2010.                 <
"Wesleyan University: The Wesleyan Cinema Archives." Welcome to Wesleyan University — Middletown,            Connecticut. Web. 04 Sept. 2010. <>.

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