John Waters Is Doing a Christmas Show and We Interviewed Him
John Waters is one of my favorite filmmakers, writers, and speakers. Every time he says or does anything I think, Wow, you are so smart and fun and I agree with everything you say. I love you. I’ve read all of his books multiple times. I’ve made drawings and paintings based on photos of him from when he was young and had long greasy hair. For a while my voicemail message was, “Oh Aunt Ida! Yeah, Aunt Ida! Don’t you look hot today!” On a purely personal level, John Waters is huge. He is also huge on all other levels. It makes me supremely happy that John’s work has seeped into the public consciousness through his Broadway musicals and either inventing or telling the world about tea bagging.
John is going to be performing a live Christmas show on December 3 at the Tarrytown Music Hall in Tarrytown, New York. As you might have guessed, I am very excited about that. Kimya Dawson will be performing at this show, and I am very excited about that too. When Robert Johnson, the show’s promoter, asked if I would like to interview John Waters to help spread the word, I came very close to dying right there on the spot.
So here it is. I hope you’ll read my brief interview with Mr. Waters and then go see his show on Monday.
VICE: Hi, John. It’s Nicholas from VICE. How are you doing?
John Waters: I am fiiiine.
Thanks for speaking with me. In recent years you’ve been doing a lot of spoken word events. Why?
This isn’t just in recent years, I’ve been doing it for 40 years. Divine and I would tour the colleges and we had a little act where a fake cop would come on stage and pretend to bust us for depravity. Divine would strangle him and hit him with a chair. I did it from the very beginning—it was the only way we could promote our movies! It’s changed very much though. I don’t come out with any movies or talk that much about my movies any more. Certainly I’ve been doing it for a long, long time though. Even the Christmas tour has been going on for ten years.
I’d like to know about your Christmas experiences, but I suppose you should save that for the actual event.
No, you can ask me about them! I love Christmas, but I understand that some people hate it! It’s a very stressful time. I talk about everything concerning Christmas, including what I hate about it—and there are a lot of things I hate about it. Things like the behavior at Christmas parties, recycling gifts, gift baskets… Gift baskets should contain cigarettes, candy, and drugs, things you would never buy for yourself.
I can see why you’d be into Christmas so much. I’ve heard people say that art is a heightened form of life. In a lot of ways Christmas is also a heightened form of life.
Christmas can unfortunately be a heightened form of capitalism too, but I don’t mind that because Christmas is good for criminals. Shoplifting is easier, there are presents in the car you can steal… At the same time, most stores survive off the commerciality of Christmas. I find that funny.
John Waters could do anything, ANYTHING, and we’d freak out about it. Collectively, as an office, we’ve contacted him about 4,231 times about writing something for us, or just, you know, agreeing to be our friend. He’s always been too busy to give us the kind of attention we need and crave, until now.
In our obsessive internet searches about who knows what, we came across a listing for a show that John has coming up at City Winery in NYC on June 22nd (with another one on the 23rd). While begging for free tickets, we were offered a fifteen-minute phone interview with the king of filth, which ended up being a twenty-five-minute life orgasm. An actual orgasm, of life.
VICE: So the last bit of news we heard about you was the thing about you being picked up by that band Here We Go Magic while hitchhiking.
John Waters: Well see, I’m not gonna talk about that because that’s all gonna be in my book. I’m working on it every day so I really don’t wanna go into it that much.
Understood. Well without getting too much into book stuff, was it hard getting picked up by people? Like in general? Because even if people didn’t recognize you as John Waters, you kinda look like a perv.
Yeah. It was very hard. And some people knew who I was, some didn’t. Some people didn’t know till I got in the car. It was all varied. I mean, no one would think it WAS me. Why would they think I was just standing there?
Do you have any sort of specific travelling outfit?
Well I don’t wear hideous things like tracksuits or shorts. I’m always shocked by what people people wear at the airport. The only thing that really makes me mad though when I’m flying is people who crack gum right in my ear. Then I’ll say something.
Or people who fart. I always sit next to the farters.
But how can you even hear a fart on an airplane?
I mean, you don’t. You’re just in it all of a sudden.
Oh, like an SBD. Well I haven’t had too many problems with farters. But I used to smoke so many cigarettes that my sense of smell is permanently damaged. I’m always amazed when people get on the plane almost nude. And they’re never the cute ones. I just try to look ahead. I always have a book. I’m not trying to get into any fashion fights on the airplane. Plus people are so touchy these days, you can’t get into any kind of fights! You can’t even talk!
So a long time ago I wrote you this insane letter, care of Atomic Books, and I’m sure you’ve gotten many similar, but I’d be so embarrassed of it now.
Did I answer it?
No, of course not.
Well it’s not too late. I may still. I have them all, I don’t throw any out. I read them all, but to be honest I answer about one percent. Fred Armisen, you know him, right, from SNL? He wrote to me once as a kid and said “why is it that you can say the things you say and get famous, while I end up at the school psychiatrist?” I wrote back and said, “You’ll get there.” And now he’s a great success. If you want people to answer a letter, you gotta include postage so it’s easy and they can just throw it in the mail, and don’t make it too long, and don’t send scripts. If I open an envelope and it’s a script, I put it right back in. Plus my lawyer says, “don’t read those! People will sue and say you stole their ideas!” What did you say in your letter that you’re so embarrassed about?
If you were around during the 70s or the 80s, and especially if you have a taste for trash films set in Baltimore, odds are John Waters is one of your favorite directors. Now the man with the sleaziest mustache in Hollywood has written a book about the people who have inspired him.To celebrate (promote), he’s let us publish the chapter on literature.
John Waters - Role Models
Read the rest at Vice Magazine: JOHN WATERS’S ROLE MODELS - Viceland Today