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A John Waters Christmas Promises To Be Naughty

The “Pope of Trash” returns to San Diego to make the Yuletide gay

Filmmaker and author John Waters in publicity photos for his touring show,

Credit: Greg Gorman

Above: Filmmaker and author John Waters in publicity photos for his touring show, "A John Waters Christmas."

Episode 49: John Waters Makes The Yuletide Gay

John Waters talks about his new Christmas show and whether Santa is erotic. Expect something naughty.

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KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando previews A John Waters Christmas 2015.


John Waters – the self proclaimed "Pope of Trash" and "People’s Pervert" – returns to San Diego (Nov. 30 at The Observatory North Park) for the John Waters Christmas Tour 2015.

To say that writer, filmmaker, and bad taste guru John Waters has an unconventional approach toward Christmas is an understatement.

“I don’t have a tree,” Waters said. “I used to decorate the electric chair that Divine got electrocuted in 'Female Trouble' cause we put lights on that but I do love Christmas decorations. I have the Unabomber Birdhouse that we put little lights on that. I do decorate. I have a wreath that rips your clothes, it’s like an S&M wreath.”

But celebrate he does.

“This year it’s my turn to cook the entire turkey dinner for my family and I have a giant Christmas party for 200 people that I have every year and have for 40 years, and in the middle of the tour," he said.

Waters initially gained fame and notoriety for shocking people with his films "Pink Flamingos" and "Female Trouble." But after mainstream success with "Hairspray" and its subsequent Broadway musical, he has become a beloved cult figure.

Last year he came to San Diego with his Christmas show and described it as "hopefully a well-written 70-minute monologue that I am constantly updating. That is my obsession and passion for Christmas, and how you can deal with it, even if you hate it, even if it’s not your religion and you resent it, even if you don’t have one penny to buy presents, even if you hate going home or at the same time if you are insanely decorating the day after Halloween."

One of his favorite Christmas memories was when the Christmas tree fell on his grandmother. But don't worry, she survived unscathed.

Waters has described himself as “Christmas crazy” and as always “needy, greedy, horny for presents and filled with an unnatural desire to please.”

If you saw his show last year, then have no fear, there’ll be new material in this one.

“I’m always updating it and oh my god, Johnny Mathis’ house burned down since last year and that affects my Christmas because he’s on the road doing his Christmas show too and so I think of that. So many things happen in the news, so many things happen with politics, everything affects Christmas,” Waters said. “Unfortunately, what happened in Paris affects Christmas. I mean it affects everything. So yes, current events are unfortunately my soap opera sometimes, so I always work in things because there’s always a new kind of stress at Christmas.”

Plus this year has the presidential debates.

“I’ll talk about politics,” Waters assured me. “Maybe I should run. Anybody can. But first of all you have to spend all your own money and it doesn’t pay well.”

Waters returns to San Diego to deliver his particular brand of Yuletide cheer and to ask such merry questions as “Is Santa erotic?”

“Well that is a question because with the bear movement certainly he is a silver fox, Mrs. Claus is a Goldilocks, which is a bear fag hag. Yes, that is a question. Are the elves twinks? Is Christmas gay now? Why don’t we just say it, Christmas is gay,” Waters said.

He also ponders “Are the holidays a better time for criminals?”

“Well certainly it is because you’re rushing, you forget to lock the door of your car and there’s presents inside. Christmas for criminals, I even knew a criminal who told me the most horrible story that I always think about, that he goes to graveyards on Christmas Eve and when people are out putting wreaths out he steals their pocketbook from the car. But see it’s a good time for him not a good time for others. We have to take joy wherever we can get it,” he stated.

A John Waters Christmas takes place Monday night at The Observatory North Park. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are still available online.

Waters insisted, “I never try to shock people, I just try to make people laugh.”

If this year’s show is anything like last year’s, then there’ll be plenty of laughter.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: John Waters

Publicity artwork for A John Waters Christmas Show 2015. Waters comes to San Diego on Nov. 30 at The Observatory North Park to deliver a one-man show about his obsession with the holidays.

You can listen to the full interview with John Waters on the Cinema Junkie podcast.


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Beth Accomando
Arts & Culture Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.

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