I’ll back you up here — it is really is a terrible film. It’s an incoherent plot with Waters’ local friends that are not trained actors, and senseless scenes that are intended to shock only for shock sake. (I’m also not a fan of the very real animal cruelty in the film.) I’m saying this as someone that has no problems with shock cinema or even terrible films.
That doesn’t mean it’s not important or iconic in its own way. After 3 or so viewings I can’t imagine ever wanting to sit down and watch it again.
The one time I saw it was at the urging of a co-worker friend who – like me – was (and still) a film buff. As a UCLA alumnus, he got a couple of seats at a showing there of Pink Flamingoes. He couldn’t (decided not to?) get his wife to join him, so he asked me along. Great! He was pretty hyped to see it again, so I expected to see something no worse than… unusual. Well, I ended up watching a good portion of the film with one hand over my face and through my fingers; that was a first time for me. I have to admit that I could not fully appreciate the “art” of the alternately dilating and contracting anal sphincter. Later, at Junior’s Restaurant I asked my friend why he thought I would enjoy the film, to which he replied that he hadn’t really thought of my enjoyment, but just didn’t want to go by himself. I then told him that whether he sat by himself or had someone sitting next to him, people would still think him odd for getting hyped about an ‘art house’ film that featured a flexing anus. Anyway, we discussed the film some more (something I love doing) and was finally able to enjoy my meal. A bagel.
Junior’s (back then) had an absolutely super “traditional” deli menu. Whenever there, I almost always had their epic bagel & sturgeon. I accept no responsibility for the unfortunate intersection of my menu choice there with UCLA’s film school showings.