The story revolves around a Baltimore sandwich shop employee who becomes an overnight sensation when photographs he has taken of his weird family become the latest rage in the art world. The young man is called "Pecker" because he pecks at his food like a bird.
This film provides examples of:
- Age-Inappropriate Art: Pecker frequently displays his photos on the wall of a family restaurant. One of said photos? The pubic hair of a stripper.
- Consulting Mister Puppet: Pecker's grandmother has a Virgin Mary statue that she is convinced speaks to her, despite her ventriloquism not being so good.
- Creator Cameo: John Waters has a voice-only role as a pervert on the phone with Shelley.
- Creator Provincialism: It is a John Waters film, so of course it's set in Baltimore.
- Disproportionate Retribution: A shopkeeper's reaction to two teenage boys shoplifting is to have them pull their dicks out and take a picture.
- Fag Hag: Pecker's sister Tina who works at a gay bar.
- Intentionally Awkward Title
- Lighter and Softer: Pecker is probably one Waters' tamest pictures next to Hairspray. Waters himself even admitted in interviews that Pecker was his "nice" movie.
- Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Pecker and Shelley's makeup sex... which occurs in a voting booth of all places!
- Naked First Impression: Tina has no problem answering the door for complete strangers when she has no pants on.
- Photos Lie: Double Subverted in that Pecker's photos are popular because they're so truthful, which in turn gives people the wrong impressions.
- Sweet Tooth: Little Chrissy, to the point where she downs sugar straight from the bag and her sugar highs are misdiagnosed as ADHD.