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Business Card from John Waters’ Hairspray 1987

Rummaging around old files today, I spotted this gem.  These cards, made for just a few of the pre-production staff (casting director, Pat Moran, art director, Vince Peranio,  line producer, Robert Maier, and John) were designed by Waters’ wardrobe designer, Van Smith.  They were rushed into print in February, 1987 after months of waiting for Wall Street tycoon, and hopeful executive producer, Stanley Buchthal, to give the go ahead.  With the ’87 savings & loan scandal and  stock market crash, we were very nervous about  committing to the project, until big money for the $ 2 million budget was in the bank.

Since the movie had to be shot in the summer, it was imperative to begin pre-production in early spring.  We had to push Buchthal hard for the $100 to buy the business cards to give some credibility when doing casting calls, location scouts, and union negotiations.   In a way these were little prayer cards that showed the film would go forward.  At that time, it was very unsure and stressed.  Buchthal was a complete unknown to us,  John hadn’t been able to raise money for a film in five years and this might have been the last chance.

A few weeks after these cards were made, surprising us all, New Line Cinema entered the picture and bought the whole package from Buchthal, guaranteeing the funding.  John’s company, Madison Films, handed over the production to New Line, and these cards were discarded.

Read about Robert Maier’s fifteen years working with John Waters in the new book “Low Budget Hell: Making Underground Movies with John Waters.”  Available on and booksellers around the world.



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