For over 10 years, filmmaker John Waters has been performing his marvelously demented one-man Christmas show for deviants across the U.S. This year, he brings his yuletide smut to 16 cities, including a stop in Tarrytown, New York on December 3rd. Here, he chats with us about his tour and fills us in on the latest developments in the dildo industry.
Your Christmas show changes every year. Can you tell us what new topics you'll be discussing on this tour?
Oh, no. But, you know, I generally like to talk about what I want for Christmas and what I would like to give my fans. Last year I said I wanted a 'packer' for Christmas, which is a limp dick dildo that's supposed to give the hint of a crotch. Afterwards, I was doing a book signing, and a woman came up to me and said, 'You want mine? I have one on.' And I said, 'Well, yeah,' and she took it out and gave it to me. I was like, 'I can't put this in my carry on. What gay man wants to travel with a limp dick dildo? What would security think?'
You've described your holiday show as 'a self-help show.' What do you mean by that?
Well, you can't avoid Christmas. You have to embrace it, either for the right reasons or the wrong reasons. Or you can reject it, but you have to think of a funny way to reject it. You have to use humor to get through Christmas, because it's a trying time financially and emotionally. I love Christmas, and I don't say that with irony. I'm lucky, I had a functional family. I had nice Christmases when I was young, even the Christmas when the tree fell over on my grandmother. I included [a Christmas tree falling on someone] in Female Trouble, and even my grandmother laughed at how I exaggerated it and used it for humor. Whatever hand you're dealt from your family, Christmas is the time when it's hardest to make it work. But you've gotta try.
What was Christmas like in your house growing up?
We used to have to go to midnight mass, which I hated. Divine would come to midnight mass, too, but in drag. He'd pass with the adults, but the children knew. My family opened stockings in the morning and then we'd have breakfast before we could see the tree and all the presents. I have a great picture of me on Christmas morning that I'm very fond of. I was about nine years old and I'm holding a hand puppet in one hand and in the other hand the album The Genius of Ray Charles, which I had asked for. I think that photo really shows me as a child and also the adult I turned out to be. My parents would always get me the stuff I asked for. I used to get cartons of Kools in my stocking from them.
They gave you cartons of cigarettes?
I'm not kidding. And my parents were sane parents! Back then nobody thought smoking was bad, nobody ever told you that. I wish I had taken a picture at the time, because it's so politically incorrect now. I think it's hilarious.
How old were you?
Oh, 16 or so. They probably wouldn't have let me smoke until I was around 16. And even in my Easter basket, I remember getting a carton of Kools surrounded by black jelly beans. My mom knew I liked black jelly beans and was being a minimalist. I wish I had a portrait of that. That would have been a great, great picture.
How will you spend Christmas this year?
I always have a big party in Baltimore. I invite everyone from the guy who played the singing asshole in Pink Flamingos to the governor to the mayor to criminals to my mom. And then it's my turn to cook Christmas dinner this year for the whole family. I'll be cooking for eleven people.
Your Christmas show in the past has talked about your obsession with Santa Claus. Do you think Santa can be sexy?
Well, can you even have sex in a chimney? There are a lot of sexual things Santa can be to people -- he could be a silver fox or a polar bear. There's always something new you can think up about sex and Christmas.
A John Waters Christmas is in Tarrytown, New York on December 3rd. Tickets here.