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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 22 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 47
Waters, Waters everywhere - The bad boy of Baltimore returns - just in time to demolish the holidays
Arts & Entertainment
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Waters, Waters everywhere - The bad boy of Baltimore returns - just in time to demolish the holidays

by Ron Anders - SGN A&E Writer

JOHN WATERS
NEPTUNE THEATRE
December 5


When two storied cultural institutions - Christmas and John Waters - collide, you can be sure that the fallout will be joyously toxic. The esteemed Pope of Trash returns to Seattle in all his pencil-mustached glory to regale us with his one-man show, 'A John Waters Christmas.' Since his emergence in the early 1970s as a film director-screenwriter-terrorist, his multi-hyphenate status has expanded to include film actor, stage star, awards show host, author, and visual artist. I caught up with Waters by phone in Baltimore, his home town and the setting for many of his films.

Ron Anders: You're a very busy man! How many of these back-to-back interviews do you have?

John Waters: It's fine. I just think about Christmas earlier, that's all. I've already bought lots of Christmas presents. I already have my Christmas cards ordered, my parties planned, approved the caterer. So I'm ahead of the game. Because I'm not here all December - I'm touring with the show.

Anders: Where are you now?

Waters: Baltimore.

Anders: I just read an article on the Internet that said Baltimore was one of the cities where it's hardest for straight women to meet straight men.

Waters: I actually think it's easy to find a straight man here. Gay people find straight men here!

Anders: Baltimore was at the top of the list!

Waters: Well, we'll take any title we can get. As long as we're not in the middle. As long as we're the best or the worst, I'm fine with that!

Anders: What should unsuspecting Seattleites expect at 'A John Waters Christmas'?

Waters: Well, I don't think unsuspecting people wander into 'A John Waters Christmas.' I've met a few who haven't seen the movies, but generally my shows aren't about my movies anymore. It's more about how to get through the holiday season - no matter what you think of it, love it or hate it - it's aimed at you like a steamroller. I understand people who can't stand it. I understand religious objections. I understand political objections. But I had great Christmases with my family - and continue to - so I talk about sex at Christmas, I talk about Christmas movies, Christmas crime, Christmas fashion, Christmas music - every possible thing. It's a Christmas fanatic's advice on how to get through it.

Anders: As far as I know, the show is sold out, so you'll have many people to talk to.

Waters: Good. That's always nice to hear.

Anders: You are working on a book. I read that there is a tentative title of Carsick.

Waters: That's the title. It comes out June 3rd. I saw the cover this week, the title page. It's ready to go!

Anders: And it's about your hitchhiking adventures.

Waters: Yes. It's part fiction in the beginning. I imagined the best 15 rides I could ever get and the worst rides I could get. And then I did it for real, which was 21 rides. It was a good experience. It's an optimistic book.

Anders: I really loved Role Models. In fact, I sent the book to many friends.

Waters: That book is still doing well. It's actually become a bestseller.

Anders: The book gave me the inspiration to come up with my own list of role models.

Waters: Well, everyone has them. It's usually people you met younger in life - people who gave you an example that anything is possible. I wrote about those people - people who have recovered from something. Everyone in Role Models is more extreme. I'm always incredibly interested in the extreme - good or bad. Or even extremely mediocre. As long as they're extremely mediocre!

Anders: Actually, you are one of my role models.

Waters: I was on the cover of one of the early Gay magazines. It was called Gay Scene or something like that. Nobody else would put me on the cover! Even the Gay magazines would never ask me if I was Gay. They were afraid that the answer would be worse! It was odd that they wouldn't ask me if I was Gay! They would go around the subject. But not any more. Now I think, why would they ask me? Isn't it obvious? I joke around that maybe we have enough Gay people now. Everyone's Gay now! There should be a panel of extreme perverts who decide if you're allowed to be Gay. They'd give you a Gay I.D.

Anders: What else do we have to look forward to from you?

Waters: I have two big projects that are coming up. But they haven't been announced yet, so I can't talk about them. I'm doing my lecture tour, which has been updated. I'm doing an Australian tour, I'm doing a German tour. I have two art shows opening. I have jobs, so I'm fine.

Anders: When are you going to host the Oscars?

Waters: Well, they haven't asked me. But I'm a voting academy member and I've been on the Independent Spirit Awards for many years. I've hosted many things, but not the Oscars. I'm friends with the people who run it now. I'm a paying Oscar member. I vote for all of them - the Directors Guild, the Writers Guild, the Screen Actors Guild. I even vote for the Razzies - the worst movies. That's plenty! The screeners are already coming. I do my 10-best list every year for Artforum, which comes out in December.

Anders: You're covering all the bases!

Waters: I try to.

Anders: So you're off to Australia soon?

Waters: Yes, in March. I just got back from Liverpool. And I go to Key West. And then San Francisco to do the 'This Filthy World' show.

Anders: What do you think of the new documentary I Am Divine?

Waters: I didn't make it, but I'm certainly in it. I think Jeffrey Schwarz did a great job. It really shows a true picture of what Divine was really like, which is probably very different from what many people thought. Many people thought he lived in drag as that character, but it couldn't have been further from the truth. Once he established that character, he did the opposite and got good reviews for playing a housewife. He played men in movies too. That's the direction he was hoping to go in. He said that drag was too hot - with wigs - he was sweating all the time. And all the high heels would break under his weight.

Anders: I also loved the 'Til Death Do Us Part TV show. I wish you were continuing that.

Waters: That was on Court TV, and when it changed to TruTV they couldn't have re-enactments. I had fun doing that. There's still a certain type of person who recognizes me from that show on the subway. People who don't know anything else I've done. But they know me from that and the Chucky movie.

Anders: Which Chucky movie were you in?

Waters: Bride of Chucky. I just watched the new Chucky movie [Curse of Chucky] last night. It just came out on DVD.

Anders: Polyester is one of my favorite movies.

Waters: I put Tab Hunter in that. He added something to that movie. It added a new realm - a real Hollywood movie star! Jeffrey Schwarz is making a movie about him right now called Tab Hunter Confidential.

Anders: You know, what really sold me on Polyester was that Divine and Tab Hunter went to a drive-in on a date, and the program was a Marguerite Duras triple bill.

Waters: You're one of the few people who got that joke!

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