Pop culture icon John Waters is well known for many things: being from Baltimore, being THE director of cult classic cinema, that ‘stache! But one thing you may not know that gets Waters excited every year is Christmas. The legendary filmmaker tells the tale of religious spectacle crossed with commercialism in his one-man show, A John Waters Christmas: Holier & Dirtier, coming to the Plaza LIVE in Orlando Dec. 8 and in Clearwater at the Capitol Theatre Dec. 16. Waters took a moment away from decorating the tree and hanging the stockings by the fireplace to talk to Watermark on the phone about his upcoming show, as well as a few other holiday topics.
WATERMARK: Thanks for taking a few moments to talk to us about your upcoming show.
I’m happy to chat with you, especially about Christmas with it barely even Thanksgiving.
Well, you are on par with the retailers. They have all their Christmas stuff out now.
They put it up at Halloween now. It’s amusing; you don’t know whether to be a goblin or a pilgrim or one of the Three Wise Men.
So the new show is called A John Waters Christmas: Holier & Dirtier. What can we expect to see?
Extremes, I’m going to more extremes. At Christmas I’m always feeling needy and greedy and horny for presents and filled with a masochistic desire to please. So you put that together with the fear of religion and the pressure of religion mixed with capitalism it makes Christmas that extreme time of year that always interests me.
You’re a big fan of Christmas; in fact in your book Crackpot you have a chapter entitled “Why I Love Christmas.”
Yeah, that’s what started the whole Christmas tour to begin with; little did we know I would end up being the Elvira of Christmas, along with Johnny Mathis. That just proves there’s no such thing as Karma cause his house just burned down recently, which I feel terrible about. It was the same house I interviewed him in for my book Role Models. I hope he is still out on the road this Christmas.
What is it about this time of year that you love so much?
I love cold weather. My idea of good weather is nude in the Alps. I also like the idea of family and friends; I just love the idea of Christmas. I also realize though why so many people hate it. They go home to family and they might be abusive or feel great financial pressure; they have to get presents, and they have to sing these songs that get on your nerves, like “The Little Drummer Boy.” It’s an extreme time, so I’m always interested in how people deal with Christmas, because no matter what, it’s coming at you like a steamroller.
What’s on your list for Santa this year?
I guess I could be political and want peace in Baltimore. I always think maybe I should do drugs again. I hate fruit baskets. When someone ever dares give me a fruit basket, I tell them a beautiful basket should be filled with poppers, gun oil, porno, cigarettes – things you would never want to buy for yourself – not a rotten pear. I can buy a pear, anyone can buy a pear. So I’m always amazed when I see one of those.
I’ll make sure not to send you a gift basket this year.
I also look for the 10 most dangerous toys every year. The list usually comes out around Thanksgiving, and I collect them. The first one I ever bought was Gobbles the Garbage Eating Goat. It came with plastic garbage that you fed the goat, and it was pulled because they said the kids were choking on the garbage. That’s a little Christmas horror story for you.
You have written books and performed on stage, but you are most well-known for your movies, but we haven’t seen one from you in over a decade. Will we ever see a John Waters-directed film again?
Maybe not; it’s not like I haven’t spoken. I have like 16 of them out there. They’re not hard to get, you can find them anywhere. So I don’t know. I have had a couple of development deals fall through, one recently, so who knows, and I don’t really have any complaints about that. They paid me well, they liked my ideas, I wrote it and it didn’t get made, but that’s the movie business. The more money they give you, the more they’re gonna have a say. Am I gonna go back and be a faux-underground filmmaker at 70 years old? I don’t think so [laughs].
Now two of your more popular films, Hairspray and Cry-Baby, have been turned into musicals.
Yes and Hairspray was a gigantic hit and Cry-Baby was a flop, but Cry-Baby I’m really proud of. They never got a chance to do an album before it closed, and we had four Tony nominations, but the cast album finally just came out, so I have high hopes that we’re bringing that one back. I think it could really succeed. The problem was it was the sexiest musical for the whole family, which is always a problem.
Any chance we will ever see Serial Mom the Musical?
I don’t know. I think that one would make a great TV series where she fought political correctness every week.
Speaking of which, do you think political correctness has gotten out of hand?
Only at rich-kid schools. It’s a luxury. I have a lot of parents who say to me, ‘I don’t know what to do. I sent my daughter to this really expensive college that cost like $75,000 a semester. She takes one course and it’s folk dancing in Uganda: they don’t have report cards, she’s had her breasts removed, she has a beard and she looks like she just kidnapped Elizabeth Smart and I have to call her Fred now. What should I do? [laughs] I understand both sides of that.
You are Maryland’s most famous son. How do you think [former Maryland Governor] Martin O’Malley is doing out on the campaign trail?
Martin is a friend of mine. He comes to my Christmas party every year, and I hope he can come this year. I think I would vote for him or Hillary, whoever wins.
Do you think based on his performance in Maryland that he would make a good president?
I think so, yes. I really like him. He got gay marriage passed, and he got rid of the death penalty. I think those two things there are great for the state.
What do you think of the other side?
I’m glad they’re all crazy. It makes it easier for us to win. The worse one to me unfortunately is the one from Baltimore. I can’t ever remember his name; I try not to say it out loud.
Yes, Carson. Yes, he is the most dangerous, because he believes God is talking to him.
This has been quite a year for the LGBT community with same-sex marriage becoming legal and transgender rights getting a spotlight on the national stage.
As long as you don’t have to go to the bathroom, which is such a button pusher when people are winning elections because of that. First of all, they have stalls in bathrooms. If you’re a transgender man and you’re standing up in front of a urinal, good for you, because that’s a good feeling. And if you’re halfway or not all the way, then go in a stall. Nobody sees anything when you’re in a stall, no matter what bathroom you’re in. They used to have unisex bathrooms in all the nightclubs in New York, and people just did cocaine in them. Personally I don’t think anyone should be taking a shit out in public anyway. Eliminate before you go out for Christ’s sake. Plan ahead!
With the advances we have made in society for LGBT people, do you feel like we are losing anything as a community?
Well, maybe our sense of humor a little. I think it’s good though, it’s progress that there won’t be gay bars, because I’m against separatism; I’ve never been for it. I don’t just want to be with all gay people. I don’t care what their sexuality is; I want to be with people who are smart or people that are interesting or people that have street smarts. To me that’s always been the mixer, whatever you are or want to be.I don’t care and I think you have the right to be that. I don’t want to hang around with just people who are like me. That’s the only thing I didn’t understand about the bear community. I love them, I think it’s a great extreme, a great minority, but why would you just want to sit around and look at people who look just like you? If that was the case I would only be allowed to hang out with old otters with mustaches.
Divine would have been 70 years old this year. What do you think he would have thought of the world and where it is today?
Divine would have been happy. I think he would be pleased that everything is more acceptable, but I think Divine just wanted to scare people. I always say he wanted to pass as Godzilla, not a woman. Divine would like it if when he walked down the street people would run in the other direction and they had to call in the National Guard. That’s what Divine wanted. Divine didn’t want to pass for anything; he didn’t want to fit in.