John Waters is like Santa Claus. Even in case you’re not personally conversant in his work, what his entire deal is about. That is excellent news for a purveyor of stunning moments like Waters, the long-lasting Baltimore filmmaker and creator affectionately dubbed “the pope of trash” by his followers.
It’s particularly excellent news when he excursions an annual Christmas present across the nation.
“They know what they’re moving into,” Waters tells the American-Statesman about audiences at “A John Waters Christmas,” a one-man present now in its twenty fifth yr and coming to Austin’s Paramount Theatre on Dec. 6. “I do not suppose anyone comes anticipating to see Peter Pan and will get me speaking about reindeer dingleberries.”
You heard the person. Waters, 75, has made an excellent repute for pushing the boundaries of unhealthy style over the many years, largely via movies like “Feminine Bother,” “Hairspray” and “Pink Flamingos.” That final one, a 1972 underground film that is change into one of many director’s largest cult sensations, infamously includes a character — performed by the late drag queen and frequent Waters collaborator Divine — consuming a substance we’re nonetheless not comfy printing in 2021.
You realize. What. You are getting. Into.
We talked with Waters over the telephone earlier than the Austin cease of his Christmas tour. This interview has been edited for size, readability and style, however y’know. Solely a lot we will do.
American-Statesman: You are touring the nation, and I noticed an occasion promoter discuss with it as “the booster shot that you just want.” Goes out after pandemic lockdown feeling like a lift to your spirits?
John Waters: I misplaced 50 talking engagements to COVID final yr, and so they’re just about all again. Now I am on the street greater than I’ve ever been. It is slightly scary, as a result of all of the planes are packed.
But it surely was nice to stroll out with an viewers and see individuals, how joyful they’re to be out once more. You realize, I joke I am hooked on the photographs. I’ve had each considered one of them 50 instances. I’ve mainlined ‘em, I am skin-popped ’em, I even bought that tablet and caught it up my (expletive) in a suppository.
Talking of our present illness dystopia: Has that supplied you in any respect with some inventive inspiration for this present?
I knew that the Christmas present, every part’s totally different. COVID has contaminated each a part of each particular person’s life. The wonderful factor about it: It is the identical, each single place on the planet. It’s a common factor that that definitely can’t be ignored, and on the similar time, has been joked about to loss of life. However in different phrases, I am attempting to consider the way it affected issues that we do not discuss, like intercourse, Christmas, porn.
Intercourse, Christmas and porn, the holy trinity. What can individuals anticipate from the present?
In the event you’ve by no means been, you do not have to have seen my films. It helps. I solely discuss them in a manner that matches in with COVID or what’s occurring, or on the most, obscure form of jokes about particulars of them that I’ve by no means shared.
It appears to me these movies that maintain coming again out — Criterion, God bless them, retains rereleasing them, in order that they’re simpler to see than they ever have been earlier than. Actually, all my movies are just about, from “Pink Flamingos” on, they’re fairly straightforward to see. They weren’t once they first got here out, and so they’re all nonetheless round.
I feel the perfect evaluate you possibly can ever get is that younger persons are nonetheless eager about it. They appear to be, so thank them for letting me get away with this for 50 years.
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I imply, I simply noticed a repertory screening of “Polyester” the opposite day.
Nice. Did they’ve the Odorama playing cards?
(Editor’s be aware: Waters’ 1981 film “Polyester,” starring Divine and Tab Hunter, initially was launched alongside with scratch-and-sniff playing cards that synched up with the motion of the movie, that includes smells like roses and flatulence.)
They didn’t have the Odorama playing cards, no, sadly.
They’ve them within the model new DVD launch that Criterion put out. … Possibly they need to do older movies and Odorama. Think about, what would suicide odor like with Bergman’s “Wild Strawberries”?
We are able to solely guess. For the Christmas present, what’s the format?
It’s one man, me, speaking for 70 minutes with no notes, utterly written, utterly memorized. After which 20-some minutes of questions, which consider me, my viewers comes up with some lulus, I promise you.
I can think about.
I could not even think about a few of them. As soon as a lady stated, “My father advised me he virtually went house with you in a bar.” What do you say to that? I stated, “Inform him hello.”
You have been very near being her stepmother, perhaps.
(Laughs) Oh, God.
I do know you will have a real love of the vacations, and also you devoted a chapter in your 1986 ebook “Crackpot” to it.
That’s the way it began, actually. “Why I Love Christmas,” that essay in “Crackpot,” is basically what led to me first doing a stage present about Christmas. That was the gateway drug.
Inform me slightly bit concerning the origins of this present, then.
First of all, I grew up watching vaudeville … I at all times favored private appearances. After which I used to journey with Divine throughout the nation to schools and launched myself. That was actually the one place you would see weirdo artwork films (again then). … We’d trigger riots on the schools typically.
I am at all times a author. I’ve written all my films. I might by no means make a film I did not write. I write all my books. … I simply want to inform tales, and this is without doubt one of the methods I do it.
Do you discover new issues to understand, or denigrate, concerning the holidays each yr?
Oh, I hope so. I attempt to think about the way it impacts issues, like how does COVID have an effect on intercourse at Christmas? And what are you allowed to do now? You realize, once I grew up, individuals had intercourse with any person totally different each evening. Now you want 5 attorneys to ask any person for a date. Issues are very, very totally different. I at all times suppose I make enjoyable of the principles of the individuals I agree with, in order that’s perhaps why I get away with it.
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I consider you’ve got introduced the tour to Austin earlier than.
Oh, yeah. … The very first time I ever went to Austin, it was to offer a present, and I met Tobe Hooper. It was proper after he made (1974 horror movie “Texas Chainsaw Bloodbath”). He gave me a cranium that I nonetheless have sitting on my desk proper right here.
Does it have a reputation?
No, it is identical to slightly cranium (from an) animal. But it surely was on the set.
“Texas Chainsaw Bloodbath” is our type of Texas nationwide Halloween film.
I feel it is the perfect horror film I ever noticed, and I feel it continues to be so.
Switching again to Christmas, how do you keep in mind the vacation rising up? It is such a nostalgic time.
It was useful and every part. I imply, I’ve stated the joke rather a lot: The Christmas tree did fall over on my grandmother (like a scene in Waters’ 1974 movie “Feminine Bother”), however it wasn’t that traumatic. She didn’t go to the hospital or something. She thought it was humorous later that I had it within the film.
However different individuals have advised me it occurs rather a lot. It is often liquor, or the canine is concerned. I’ve heard some horror tales about it occurring, after which some fall over and catch on hearth. … I feel you ought to rig your individual so it falls over proper in the intervening time of all people opening their principal current. … Put all of it away and go on to Valentine’s Day. Truly, what comes subsequent is the Feast of the Circumcision, which is Jan. 1.
Is it actually? I didn’t know.
I talked rather a lot concerning the Feast of the Circumcision in my present.
I am not conversant in the entire feast days.
Properly, I will offer you greater than you’d wish to know.
I used to be raised very type of Southern evangelical, and we do not actually do this.
So evangelicals do not get circumcised?
We get circumcised. We simply haven’t got feast days.
I feel it is excessive it doesn’t matter what faith you’re.
Properly, are there any hallmarks of the vacations that you just discover much less healthful than we’re led to consider?
In my present, I’m going via each single vacation, how I wish to reinvent them. I feel most of all of them want reinvention. How can they presumably have Christopher Columbus Day anymore? I imply, he was a racist monster, exploited individuals. They might tear down the statue for him, however but individuals get off from work for it? I do not know.
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What about Santa Clauses on the shopping center? What’s your tackle that?
Youngsters are most likely the most important spreaders proper now, as a result of a whole lot of them have not gotten the shot but. Principally, I really feel sorry for Santa (with) hundreds of little spreaders respiratory on him. Possibly the alcohol will kill a few of it. Do not complain if Santa is drunk within the mall now. He is attempting to do away with germs in your kids.
I do know you curated the “A John Waters Christmas” album, a music compilation. Do you hear from followers nonetheless who say that is a normal for them?
They often play it earlier than my present. I may do one other one, however I wished to do each vacation, like Groundhog Day, and so they’d actually be obscure. I imply, it could be straightforward to do a terrific Halloween one, however , Thanksgiving — are there any songs about (sticking your hand up) the turkey? I do not know. I imply, that at all times given me the creeps, stuffing.
It appears unsanitary.
And sexual in a manner that I by no means wished to attempt.
For this tour, you are going across the U.S. on all these December dates. Do you are feeling such as you miss out on vacation enjoyable with buddies?
It’s bizarre. I imply, I used to at all times have a Christmas celebration. I am not having it this yr, as a result of I am not gonna have 200 individuals in right here with out masks ingesting.
Once I’m in malls and within the lodge and go, “Oh, it actually is Christmas” — to me, it is simply fodder for the present I do. … When do I Christmas store? It is virtually not possible to, and I can not lug presents round with me to 16 cities. I suppose I do discover it occurring, and it simply makes it really feel even weirder to me. I nonetheless like Christmas, and I nonetheless do it once I come house. I’ve Christmas morning and see my household and all that.
However I do not actually have time at Christmas. I am like a drag queen on Halloween. I am working.
In the event you go
“A John Waters Christmas”
When: 7 p.m. doorways, 8 p.m. present on Dec. 6.
The place: Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave.
Extra data: austintheatre.org