Smoke on the Waters

I ran across John Waters’ famous “No Smoking” short on YouTube and am glad somebody finally posted this. For years it was only available as an extra on the 1995 laserdisc version of Polyester (1981). (This laserdisc also included a “Get To Know Baltimore” tour narrated by Waters; clips from a couple of television entertainment program profiles of the filmmaker and his associates; and Robert Maier’s 1975 documentary short Love Letter to Edie. The 2004 release of the John Waters’ DVD box set Very Crudely Yours, may have restored many of the extra features from the Polyester laserdisc – hope springs eternal! – but I don’t have the $90 needed to find out). Anyway, the “No Smoking” clip has long been familiar to audiences at Baltimore’s Charles Theater where it frequently preceded feature film screenings and was a guaranteed laugh-getter.

YouTube description:
“In this short clip, John Waters announces that “no smoking is allowed in this theatre” and goes on to encourage people to smoke anyway, as it keeps the ushers busy.”

Waters appeared in the “No Smoking” promo for Santa Monica’s Nuart Theater in appreciation for showing Pink Flamingos for many years. It’s a common misconception that Waters himself filmed the trailer. In fact it was filmed and produced by music video director Douglas Brian Martin. Martin clears the matter up in this posting to the Cinema Treasures website about the Nuart Theater:

John Waters did not create the now renowned NO SMOKING trailer – he starred in it, as he is a star. I produced and directed three trailers in a New York City loft in support of the SHOCK VALUE FILM FESTIVAL that was marketed nationwide through Landmark Theatre Corporation in the early 1980’s to assist in marketing John’s book SHOCK VALUE. The SHOCK VALUE trailer was kicked back by the Texas censors with an orange obscenity band due to the use of the words masturbation and coprophagy. (John wanted to change the script to use more common terms for anatomy and excretions but I insisted on sticking to the script – little good it did) The THANK YOU NUART FOR MAKING DIVINE THE FILTH GODDESS and the NO SMOKING TRAILER were filmed at the same time. All were filmed as written. I carried the latent image reels back to LA in my carry-on luggage and transferred the 16mm original negative up to 35mm for theatrical use. The Film Festival, with the NUART Theatre as base, was a runaway success, and the NO SMOKING trailer, created as an added attraction to give Nuart patrons even more reasons to love the NUART, has gone on to become an icon. Nice.

According to, Douglas Brian Martin directed the following music videos – so the next time you see these songs on VH1 or MTV Classic, remember they were made by the guy responsible for John Waters’ “No Smoking” trailer!:

“Murder, Mystery & Mayhem” (1981) for Peter Ivers; “I Predict (1982)” for Sparks; “Get Up And Go (1982)” for The Go-Go’s; “Gone Daddy Gone (1983)” for Violent Femmes; “Barefoot Rock (1983)” for The Blasters; “One Red Rose (1983)” for The Blasters; “The Cutting Edge” (1983) for MTV; “Christian Girls Problems” (1983) for The Gleaming Spires; “Head Over Heels” (1983) for The Go-Go’s; “Sound Of The Rain” (1984) for Rank & File; “Livin’ A Little, Laughin’ A Little” (1985) for John Hiatt/Elvis Costello; “When Angels Kiss” (1985) for Gary Myrick; “Stick Around” (1985) for Julian Lennon; “Lips To Find You” (1986) for Teena Marie; and “Situation #9” (1986) for Club Nouveau.

Related Links:
Douglas Brian Martin’s Website (
Doug Pratt’s Laserdisc Review of Polyester

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