John Waters has his own special brand of holiday cheer

by Craig D. Lindsey

McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

20 December 2010


RALEIGH, N.C. — John Waters loves Christmas. Seriously.

You wouldn’t expect the man behind such twisted cult classics as “Pink Flamingos,” “Female Trouble,” “Polyester” and his breakout, Broadway musical-inspiring hit “Hairspray” to be the kind of guy who likes to deck the halls. But he swears he does.

After spending most of this year promoting his last book of essays, “Role Models,” he says he’s ready to celebrate the season. A season that gets him as busy as “a drag queen on Halloween,” he says.

He has a Christmas party every year. He released a Christmas album, “A John Waters Christmas” in 2004. And he also has a touring one-man show of the same name.

Waters loves Christmas in his own, um, alternative way.

“I always think it would be fun to break in someone’s house and just move all their presents around and put the turkey back in the freezer,” Waters says, on the phone from his Baltimore home. “But the idea of it — so the kids would think ‘bad Santa’ came.”

See what we mean?

The 64-year-old filmmaker will be dropping oddball nuggets like that during his show.

“I mean, I always have fantasies of taking the traditional Christmas and altering it in a way,” he says. “Not in real life, but certainly in my fantasies and in my writing, and in my imagined scenarios, which is what I love to talk about at Christmas.”

Waters has been going from town to town talking about his love of Christmas for years now, dating back to the one-man shows he did at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco after the release of his 1986 book “Crackpot: The Obsessions of John Waters,” which included the essay “Why I Love Christmas.”

To make sure his yuletide shtick never grows stale, Waters says he re writes and re works his heavily scripted show every year.

But Waters always finds something worth riffing on, such as pondering that age-old quandary: Is Santa erotic? Needless to say, this show isn’t designed to be an experience for the whole family.

“Well, it depends on what family,” Waters snarkily quips. “It’s not something you’d want to sit next to your mother and watch, unless she’s very arty.”

Waters also would love to spread some holiday cheer on the big screen. He says he has been wanting to make the Christmas-themed movie “Fruitcake,” about a boy and his family who steal meat for the poor during the holidays, for the past few years.

Unfortunately, getting people to finance it has been a problem.

“I’ll get it made,” he says. “I’m just trying to figure out how.”

In the end, Waters feels he’s doing a public service this time of year.

“I think I’m trying to tell everybody how to get through Christmas, whether you like it or hate it,” he says. “I’m trying to be a happy neurotic, and I think that’s a very important thing to achieve when the holiday season is coming at you.”

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