Julie Klausner, Meet John Waters


At the party, someone led her over to meet the evening’s honoree, Sofia Coppola. But Ms. Klausner was eyeing another guest nervously: the cult-movie legend John Waters, who sat nearby in a bright confetti-print suit.

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Ms. Klausner posing with the director John Waters.

Credit
Katherine Taylor for The New York Times

A festival “concierge” offered to introduce her. “I’m terrified,” Ms. Klausner said, as another sort of panic attack set in. “Sorry, I’m being such a dork.”

She sat down next to Mr. Waters and gushed: “Growing up, I made my older brother tell me, beat for beat, what ‘Pink Flamingos’ was about, because I was too scared to see it. ‘Tell me about the chicken again!’ It was like a ghost story.”

“I wouldn’t do that today,” Mr. Waters said, referring to a notorious scene from his 1972 film involving sex with a live fowl. Then again, he added: “The chicken got famous. And we ate it, so I don’t feel guilty.”

“Speaking of being eaten, did you follow that ‘cannibal cop’ case?” Ms. Klausner asked. Listeners of her podcast, “How Was Your Week?,” recall her obsession with Gilberto Valle, the former New York City police officer who was convicted of kidnapping conspiracy after describing in internet chat rooms his plans to abduct and eat women. (He said it was just a fantasy, and the verdict was later overturned.)

“Yeah, yeah,” Mr. Waters said. “I thought he was so ugly, I didn’t care.” He laughed and added: “He didn’t even eat anybody! All talk and no digestion.”

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Ms. Klausner at the Shell Shop, a candy and fudge store in Provincetown.

Credit
Katherine Taylor for The New York Times

With that, he went to find another drink. “Did I make a fool of myself?” Ms. Klausner asked. She exhaled. “It was worth that horrible ferry ride.”

She had plans to meet a friend at a drag show, so she ducked out of the party, swapping her Manolo Blahniks for comfy sandals. (“If my stylist knew, she would never speak to me again.”) She had been to Provincetown once as a little girl but didn’t remember it.

“It’s charming,” she said. “Really cute dogs. People are friendly, but they’re not creepy. They’re not looking at my soul — as far as I know.”

Turning onto Commercial Street, the main drag here, she added: “I appreciate the mix of chic and trashy. There’s a place I passed that has a signature cocktail called the Mermaid’s Orgasm.”

She had time to stop in a few stores, starting with Womencrafts, Provincetown’s counterpart to the feminist bookstore on “Portlandia.” “I love third-wave feminism,” Ms. Klausner said after checking out a pussy-hat display. “I did see an ‘I ♥ Lesbians’ T-shirt today that I was really tempted to wear to my panel, so people would know where I stood on lesbians. Sometimes I worry that people don’t know.”

She stopped in a game shop called Puzzle Me This (“I like a store that’s also a command”) and scoped out a cribbage board. “It does need two people, which is the most pathetic thing I’ve said today so far,” she said. “‘Can’t play cribbage, it needs two people!’ Can one of them be a cat?”

She skipped past a tie-dye store, which she said made her feel “squidgy,” and went into a candy and fudge shop, where she picked up some taffy and a pack of Chuckles. “There’s no sexy way of eating fudge,” she said. “Even a brownie is reasonable. But I can’t live with myself and eat fudge at the same time.”

By the time she got to Crown & Anchor, where the drag show was about to begin, she realized she had left her stylist-mandated clutch, along with her phone, back at the party. She borrowed a phone and reached a festival organizer, who offered to drop it off at her hotel. “I mean, being without a cellphone is terrifying, but it’s just an hour,” she told herself.

Inside, she found her friend Michael Goff, co-owner of the gay website Towleroad, and his friend from town, Marc Guerrette. They were there to see the drag comedian Dina Martina, who soon towered above them singing “I Love Rock ’n Roll” in a demented warble.

Taffy and drag queens: the hallmarks of a Saturday night in P-town. But after the show, the three of them were up for more, and Commercial Street was hopping. Heading to dinner, they passed an old fishermen’s haunt called the Governor Bradford, where drag karaoke night was just getting started.

“The Governor Bradford,” Ms. Klausner said. “That’s like the gayest name for a sex act.”

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