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John Waters’ Crybaby- Artifact Alert– Swag Comb

Once again, rummaging through my drawers, I found this piece of Waters paraphernalia.  Even though “Crybaby” was a Universal Picture produced by Brian Grazer, the $9 million budget was cheap by Hollywood standards.  Of course taking away studio overhead, the executive producers and Mr. Waters’ nice high six figure salaries, music, choreography, and other name stars, in some areas the cheapness showed.

As location manager, I can attest they strained to save a bundle in that department, but never mind.  Swag for the crew consisted of ten-cent combs.  No t-shirts, no mugs, no fancy pens– a few plastic combs.  Again, as location manager, they were pretty much the extent of my “thank-you” gifts to cooperative location participants, as I mumbled our deep appreciation and here’s a comb with a misspelling of the film’s title to make up for the grips trampling your prize-winning rose bush.

Toward the end, crew morale sank lower as hours got longer, scheduling became hopelessly chaotic, and the gap between the haves and have-nots grew; a pretty common thing on many films, especially in the lower budget realm.

One particularly abrasive day the producers showed up with a van load of spiffy Hollywood- film crew style baseball jackets with a huge, beautiful likeness of Johnny Depp and the actual Crybaby logo on the back.  They gave one to even the lowliest PAs.  It did the trick.  The crew cooled down, and proudly wore them even in the 95 degree dog days of a Baltimore summer.

I still have my jacket, on extended loan to one of my sons who wears it to many hip events.  Of course I still have a few combs, but with a haircut very similar to John’s (e.g. no hair left), I haven’t been able to use them for years.

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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