My favorite thing about the Holiday Season is when John Waters comes to town for his annual Christmas Show, of course! There is no man on earth who loves Christmas more than John Waters, and he’s mentally ill, too, so watching him rant for an hour and a half on stage, decked out in nightmarish bric-a-brac suits that look like some bizarre Yuletide matter teleportation experiment gone horribly wrong is just the thing for a guy like myself, who sometimes needs a prodding here and there to keep from turning into Ebenezer Scrooge. I’m one of those people who sometimes gets depressed around the holidays, mostly because I miss being a kid at Christmas. I was an only child, you see, and I got twice the presents because my parents were divorced and ridden with guilt. Now, one of them is dead and the other one knows I have more money than he does, so I have to play Santa for myself most of the time . . . all of which probably sounds terribly materialistic and shallow to some of you . . . until you sit in a crowd and listen to John Waters blows gaskets about the true meaning of Christmas, which is getting and giving lots and lots of presents—and they better be the RIGHT presents, too, or something really, really bad will happen to you. The show is billed in the ads as a “vaudeville act” but it’s really just an elaborate stand-up routine, rehearsed and performed with expert flair and dementia, in which Waters mostly gives long lists of what he wants for Christmas and what he would like to give to others. He stamps his feet and screams “I love Christmas so fucking much I could shit MYSELF!” And then he launches into a kamikaze tirade about how he collects movie novelizations and how there’s no novelization for the gay porn flick “MAD JACK BEYOND THUNDERBONE”, so one of us better damn well write it for him this year . . . and then he spins off on tangents about how tacky remakes are so in vogue now, so maybe we could remake a few of his own films with holiday themes . . . and then he spews a while about how it would be a really good idea this year to give actual sticks and stones to the bad people on your list, but be careful which kind to give, because there’s a difference . . . and then he’ll scream out loud about how much he loves holiday movies, particularly Alvin and The Chipmunks—he’s sexually attracted to Alvin, you see—and how he made a point of going to see the most recent one alone on a Saturday matinee with a full house of children in attendance, in order to attract as much of the wrong kind of attention as possible . . . and he’s not kidding about any of it. Obsessions with Johnny Mathis, stories about Divine, it’s all here in the mix, just as you would expect from the king of bad taste, but at the heart of it is a true and authentic passion(underline that twice, people) for the Season, which doesn’t just border on psychopathic, it bloody well crosses the line into complete-and-total Christmas madness . . . and, of course, a fervent desire to sell you a copy of his most recent book. In the true spirit of ‘A John Waters Christmas’, I bought two. There’s also a neat trick I always pull at the book signings that happen after the show. I wait until the line has fully formed, then get right at the end of it, because one of Waters’ pet peeves is famous people who leave their appearances before everybody gets an autograph. (“It’s just bad form, man!”) What this means is that I’m always the LAST GUY to meet him, so there’s no one else waiting, and I get a lot of extra quality time. This year, he talked with me for twenty minutes while the bookstore people took pictures and he signed copies for their store. I collect movie novelizations, too, and we compared notes on which ones were the tackiest. He said if I didn’t send him my copy of SQUIRM for Christmas, something really, really bad would happen to me. Yes, there really is a movie called SQUIRM, and someone really did write a book based on it, and I really do own a copy. But not for long. Because when John Waters tells you to give him something OR ELSE, you’d better damn well believe him when he says something really bad will happen to you. This guy truly is Santa Claus, in the worst possible way. And I don’t want Santa pissed off at me this year. I want too much stuff for that!
Anyway, go see his show. It’s really funny.
SUPER AWESOME TACKY THINGS I BOUGHT MYSELF FOR CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR, IN THE SPIRIT OF JOHN WATERS: A new record player, just so I could play a mint-condition sealed copy of the vinyl soundtrack to the obscure 1969 exploitation film ANGEL, ANGEL DOWN WE GO, which is exactly as old as I am. A BLU RAY copy of the too-weird-to-be-real biopic GIA, starring Angelina Jolie. A cassette tape player that automatically makes your old tapes into MP3s—this, so I can archive all the times I used to make my dad and his hippie musician friends act out Archie comics on tape, and post it all on Facebook to embarrass them! And banana bread mix. If you don’t make banana bread, or at least receive one loaf from a friend or relative on Christmas Day, you should probably just kill yourself. That’s Santa Claus talking, folks. Listen up!
Stephen Romano is an acclaimed author, screenwriter and illustrator, having written for Showtime’s Emmy-winning original series Masters Of Horror. Along with Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, he is the co-author of BLACK LIGHT, which Kirkus Reviews called Ghostbusters with bloody mayhem on steroids.”