Who better than the Prince of Puke to put you in the Christmas spirit? Forget that weenie Michael Buble or heartwarming holiday pageants. The true spirit of the season is embodied by filmmaker and author John Waters, clad in a poinsettia-red velvet Issey Miyake suit, his trademark licorice-whip moustache firmly in place, putting the filth in “Feliz Navidad” during his one-man show at the Lyric Performing Arts Center in Baltimore.
Wednesday was the final night of Mr. Waters’ tour, but you’d never know he had been all over the U.S., as well as Australia and New Zealand. As dapper and radical as ever, Mr. Waters led the enthusiastic hometown crowd through a tour of his holiday-themed obsessions and fetishes.
Starting with “the beauty and the horror” of the idea of a 4-1/2 hour concert by Connie Francis and the wonderfully inspired notion of swapping audiences with crooner (and one of his role models) Johnny Mathis for one surprise evening, Mr. Waters confessed his crush on teen idol Justin Bieber, even to the point of purchasing an “official fan wig,” which he wears to staff meetings. He actually met Mr. Bieber during a taping of “The Graham Norton Show” in London, where the teen dream said “your moustache is the jam.” Mr. Waters, being an accommodating fellow, offered him one of his many Maybelline eye pencils so the youth could draw on his very own John Waters ‘stache, a seismic event dutifully reported by all the tabloids.
This Christmas season finds Mr. Waters “torn between capitalism and anarchy,” and both extremes are hilariously explored in his monologue. On the one hand, he wants to provide gifts for friends and loved ones—in one naughty bit, he confesses to stealing presents from cars as a teen, the girls in his gang hollering “Get the gift slips!” so they could cash them in at local department stores. He hates e-cards (“cheap bastards”), boxes of fruit (“six pears—are you effing kidding me?”), and most of all, gift cards, which he says tells you the person was too lazy to try to find something you might like.
His ideal presents—to give and receive—are books, especially bad movie novelizations, and gay porn parodies, such as “Splendor in the Ass.” Oh yeah, and chocolate Santa butt plugs. He generously offers up dating advice along those lines—if you go home with someone new and they don’t have any books around the house, “don’t f-ck them.”
On the other hand, Mr. Waters wants to put his own demented stamp on the holiday with what he calls “acts of comic terrorism.” He longs to redo living Nativity scenes with “Mumblecore Mary” and “Stud Muffin Joseph” and put his own spin on the traditional gift basket—his would contain sex toys, diet pills, and cigarettes. Or how about a Christmas wreath made of greenery from a sticker bush, all the better to catch on the clothes of yuletide guests.
At the end, Mr. Waters stated that he hates jokes, but loves wit. The latter was in lurid abundance Wednesday night, a perverse holiday pageant of dirty thoughts superbly told.
A John Waters Christmas was performed December 21, 2011 at the Lyric Performing Arts Center, Baltimore, MD.