ALMOST AS MANY movie actors and directors have written books as there are extras in any biblical epic, but Fran Lebowitz's "favorite show-biz autobiography" is by Baltimore's own John Waters, and it's called Shock Value: A Tasteful Book About Bad Taste. Waters, who's responsible for such amiably depraved films as Mondo Trasho, Multiple Maniacs, Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble and the current Polyester, looks like Ronald Colman might have looked if Ronald Colman had grown up near Memorial Stadium.

Shock Value took Waters "about eight months" to finish. At the time he began it, he'd raised only half the money to complete shooting on Polyester and he needed a project to keep him on the streets. Then coincidence, as it often does, took over: a friend suggested that he try writing a book, and at the same time Sandy Choron, an editor at Delta, had targeted Waters as a possible author for her list. The result, a trade paperback with an appropriately tacky leopard-skin cover, is candid and funny and highly quotable. For example, "A friend of mine fell in love with a federal marshall at the Hearst trial and looked forward to the body frisk more than the court proceedings."

Now, to his surprise, Waters would like to do another book, one that's less autobiographical. "But I'm afraid that if I wrote a novel I'd just want to make a movie out of it." Artifice twice-over is just what John Waters is about.