In America, social class is the elephant in the room that nobody says exists, but it’s hard to ignore in Baltimore, whose blue collar charms have been given national exposure via the films of Barry Levinson and John Waters. This excerpt from Louis Alvarez and Andrew Kolker’s award-winning documentary People Like Us: Social Class In America presents two Charm City hallmarks – big hair (we are, after all, “The Hairdo Capital of the World” according to John Waters) and “dive” bars – and asks whether Baltimore’s eccentricities are being celebrated or mocked for kitsch value.
First we see Kelly Conway (pictured above) don her bio-dome sized wig as she heads off to MC the annual Hon Festival in Hampden. Kelly, a real “hon” (back before they became a registered trademark), was one of the first Honfest Hon winners (she even baked cannoli to seal the deal!) and has long been a local media fixture, appearing on television (THE CORNER, ATOMIC TV and WJZ-TV’s “SOAPDISH”), as well as in films by Todd Rohal, Josh Slates and John Waters’ PECKER and A DIRTY SHAME. Then we see slumming Yuppies amuse themselves on a neighborhood “dive bar crawl” through East Baltimore. (2001, 8 minutes)
Watch “Friends in Low Places“: