He's been called the Prince of Puke and he's been called the Pope of Trash. But for the past few years, John Waters has been working on becoming the Duke of … Christmas?
It may seem strange, but the creative genius behind some of the most shocking and evocative films of all time is a sucker for the winter holiday — so much so that this year he gears up for another round of his annual show, A John Waters Christmas, which comes soon to Napa and (a sold-out) San Francisco.
SF Weekly: Is the show about your experiences with Christmas or about Christmas in general?
John Waters: It's everything about my obsession with Christmas. About how you can't avoid it, about how it can make you crazy, or happy, or horny, or mental, or psychotic — anything it can make you, I'll be there to help you with.
It sounds like you enjoy Christmas.
I love it! Except for me, Christmas now is like being the fat man. I work Christmas. I don't play Santa Claus, but I work because I do this tour every year. I've been doing it for years. I think I started it for the very first time in San Francisco.
So in the show you'll talk about what you like about Christmas…
Well, I'll talk about what I hate about it and what I love about it. There's not a moment of Christmas talk that will go untouched.
What are some things that you hate about Christmas?
Well, there are certain things — proper ways to give people presents. There's things you should never do. You should never give gift cards unless it's in Bitcoins for the third Silk Road. The second Silk Road just got shut down, I read, so I don't know how I'm supposed to pay for hit men for Christmas this year.
All right. Gift cards are bad, Bitcoins are good. What's the worst present you've ever gotten?
The soundtrack to Rocky. I threw it out of the window of a high rise — which is not very smart to do because you could kill somebody that way. And what a terrible way to be killed, by a flying Rocky LP.
What about the best presents? What are those?
The best presents are books, and San Francisco is one of the best book towns in the world. It's very easy to find me a great present in San Francisco.
If you're always on the road with your show for Christmas, do you still decorate your house?
I do! Actually I do! I have an electric chair from [the 1974 film] Female Trouble that [I] decorate like a Christmas tree. And I used to even put one of the legs [of it] in a Christmas bucket with water, but I'm not as surreal these days.
It's always a good idea to have Christmas decorations that people have made you. My mom used to needlepoint me stuff, I have Christmas decorations that [the actor] Divine gave me, I have Christmas decorations that are Christmas balls with hideous relatives glued on them. Ugly pictures of family? That's always a great way to have a great Christmas — to find the worst pictures of your relatives. I mean ones that you like! I don't mean in a negative way. Get each person to get the worst picture they have of themself and then put it on a Christmas ball. It's funny!
I have a Unabomber birdhouse that I decorate. … My sister-in-law made me an S&M wreath that covers the door and kind of snags your clothes. Yeah, I go all out on Christmas.
What about other holidays?
No, I don't decorate for any of them. I mean, I go to my sister's for Thanksgiving. I hate Easter.
Why do you hate Easter?
Because of the rotten Easter Bunny. That's just another way to humiliate women, to make them play the Easter Bunny in a mall. It's never a man. And they don't even wash their filthy outfits. There's even a website — or there used to be — with women complaining about what it's like to be the Easter Bunny. Did you know that it's so hot that they vomit inside that head when they're talking to your child?
That's terrifying. But do you think that they wash the Santa Claus outfits more?
I bet they do, because when some of the children that sit on him, they, you know, they wet themselves and puke and everything. With the Easter Bunny — even children don't go for that. They know that it's fake. You know, I think the Easter Bunny just sits there without that much traffic. I think they should have the Tooth Fairy sitting on a throne. Why don't they even have that? I think the Tooth Fairy should take the place [of the Easter Bunny] and give out candy. That way your teeth would fall out quicker.
Did you go to the mall when you were a kid and sit on Santa's lap?
Oh, yeah. Sure I did. I always remember in our neighborhood we had — on Christmas Eve we would go down and we would decorate the tree in our community and Santa would come at the end. But I could see it was the neighbor! I knew him! I could hear his voice! That really ruined it. They would say, “Oh! It's Santa!” And I would say, “No it's not! That's Mr. Schroeder, that's the neighbor!” He always seemed drunk, too. He probably was.