One of the first shows I got to enjoy after returning to New Orleans was the one and only, the delightfully raunchy John Waters — the director, the humorist, the author, and the general trouble-maker. It was at the Civic Theatre, and as if to remind me how fun it was to enjoy him in New Orleans (after a delightful interview, my second counting one while at Gambit Weekly), I got seated next to someone I’d met on New Year’s Day, 2006, a few months before leaving for Atlanta. (Here’s my preview for that 2013 show.)
Waters returns to New Orleans and the Civic tonight (Thursday, Dec. 17) for his annual Christmas show, subtitled “Holier & Dirtier.” (Check out the Facebook event page for details.) His years living here in the pre-“Pink Flamingos” days are so etched in our memory that, after recounting that period for Gambit in 2010, he’s grown tired of recounting them in subsequent interviews. Which is not to say Waters is hesitant to show his love of New Orleans and its sometimes-seedy ways (the whole world knows his favorite bar is the Corner Pocket), and always gives his props (as he did in 2013) to New Orleans audiences:
They’ve always been appreciative. They ‘get it,.’ I don’t ever have to worry if people are going to get it in New Orleans. Even though you are a city that does not participate in the rest of America, which I give you kind of credit for. You’ve seceded. Culturally, you always kind of had your own kind of world there, and you decided what was good there. You were not influenced by the rest of America, which I always find kind of amazing.
After all these years, he still delights in shocking people’s sensibilities, as he did when discussing Christmas on the eve of the 2013 show:
I love Christmas. I celebrate it. But I want the war on Christmas, if it’s [celebrated] on government property. I am against that. However, I decorate my house. I want to go Christmas caroling with crack addicts. I always wanted to go with crack addicts so you could go ring the door bell and really scare people. I’m for Christmas, but it should not have anything to do with the state. I do celebrate it. I even mock all the traditions of it. I decorate an electric chair in my house.
I got a chance to interview him once again in March for his traditional “This Filthy World” show at the Joy (which I missed). The highlight from that interview came when I asked him what he thought about a certain cultural shift when “more and more people don’t get mad at what you’re doing?”
It’s because I’m not mean. I think people, when they come to see me, want me to take them into some world where they might get a little uncomfortable in but they’re not uncomfortable with me as their guide. I have a lot of parents bring as a last-ditch effort bring their angry children to see me together. That’s touching. I don’t know if it works. I don’t know if they go home and discuss what “Ultimate Nudity” was and bond. Before when I was young and people saw my movies, they’d call the police. Things have changed but for the better, certainly.
And finally, enjoy one last New Orleans connection, however bizarrely:
Watch John Waters talk about his favourite love film: Boom! https://t.co/zr1Qegs2Lu #BFILove pic.twitter.com/M4sJI0VWMh
— BFI (@BFI) December 17, 2015