“PopSmart NOLA” on WHIV, Ep. 21: Winston Ho, Evan Spigelman and John Waters on a new day and time!

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This week’s show came to listeners on a new day and time: Friday at noon on WHIV (102.3 FM)! While I will miss hanging out on Saturday afternoon, I have to say I’m thrilled with the opportunity to precede one of WHIV’s coolest shows, Chris Lane’s “Eat, Pray, Fight!” and, hopefully, to follow a very cool new show we hope to announce some time in the future.

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John Waters: “Make Trouble,” remote controls, and the crazy people in his life

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JOHN WATERS: “THIS FILTHY WORLD: DIRTIER AND FILTHIER”
WHEN:
Sat. (March 18), 8 p.m.
WHERE: Joy Theater, 1200 Canal St.
TICKETS: $45-$90
MORE INFO: Visit the Joy Theater website

Truth be told, John Waters can do these phone interviews in his sleep. What more is there to say after a career like his, which, fortunately for New Orleans, includes what feels like an annual pilgrimage to brush up on his “This Filthy World Tour” as he holds forth on the many things that landed him the title “Pope of Trash” and many other witty titles.

And yet, he always surprises you with a few curveballs and changeup pitches.

Some of that is captured in the feature in this week’s New Orleans Advocate article as well as in a podcast interview for “PopSmart NOLA.” Waters’ assistant was kind enough to also provide a “John Waters through the years” set of images for a nice photo gallery, so it seemed appropriate to provide a post of his recollections of the many crazy and special people in his long and colorful life, with some photos of him and the others included.

Enjoy!

Would you be game if I threw out a few of the names of the folks you’ve worked with over time? Would you mind giving me a first impression?

Sure.

I’ll start with Johnny Depp.
At the time of Johnny Depp in “Cry Baby” (1990), he was basically Justin Bieber. (At the time, Depp was the star of the TV hit “21 Jump Street.) He was a teen idol and he hated it. I think he made a wise decision to come with us because he could make fun of the whole thing. Then he moved on and made “Edward Scissorhands” and became a serious actor.

Debbie Harry.
I always loved Debbie. (Debbie Harry appeared as Velma Von Tussley in 1998’s in “Hairspray.”) She was from the very beginning, like a goddess to me. She’s a really good actress, too. I’ve seen her lots of different movies, independent films. It was great to have her. She was so excited to have Sonny Bono play her husband.

Ricki Lake.
Well, Ricki’s still a very dear friend. (Lake starred as Tracy Turnblad in “Hairspray.”) She’s had tragedy recently over her last husband. I don’t know if you know about that. I didn’t know. He committed suicide. It’s in People magazine this week. Anyway, she is a dear friend. I wrote the introduction to her autobiography (“Never Say Never: Finding a Life That Fits”). We’ve stayed in touch from the very beginning. She was even in “Hairspray,” the NBC thing, and a cameo thing. Ricki’s a dear, dear friend I’ve known forever. When she came in, she was Tracy Turnblad. She was in college, hated it, wanted to be an actress. She always told me she wanted to be a TV star and she became one.

Kathleen Turner.
Oh, she’s great. I still see her. We just went over and recorded something for the new “Serial Mom” (1994) DVD/blue-ray that came out. Kathleen is a brilliant actor and she works constantly. She does a lot of theater. I don’t know. She’s got a great sense of humor. She doesn’t suffer fools, but I love to be with her when she doesn’t suffer fools.

Traci Lords.
A good friend. (Lords starred in “Cry Baby.”) She was only a porn star for, what, a year and a half or something. She’s been doing everything else for the rest of her life. Traci and I hosted a big punk rock festival in Oakland last year, called Burger Boogaloo, and I’m hosting it again this year. She was great because she said for the first time ever, you know how to meet and greet, which for her can be not a good. All the lineup was mostly all women. She said, “I’ll sign their tits but those guys? I ain’t signing their tits.’ They all had their haircut from “Cry Baby” and Traci Lords tattoos and everything. It was great.

Tab Hunter.
Tab Hunter is a friend. I certainly saw him. I’m in the documentary about him. If it wasn’t for him, “Polyester” (1981) would have never crossed over to what it did. Tab is somebody that you never can predict. He’s a Republican. He always makes me laugh. He does it just to defy me, too.

Mink Stole.
Mink and I are great friends. She moved back to Baltimore after living in New York and L.A. for years and years and years. We’re very good friends. She came up to the big Writers Guild, Lifetime Achievement Award I got. Mink’s a very, very close friend. She’s like family.

What do you think of the music album she put out a couple of years ago?
It’s so good! She could sing. (“Do Re Mink,” 2013.) I said, “Why didn’t you tell me you could sing?” She said, “I didn’t know it, either.” She’s like Julie London. She can really sing.

Patricia Hearst.
Patricia is certainly my friend, I hope. (Hears appeared in “Cry Baby.) She’s somebody who, it’s all over. She doesn’t care about it, she doesn’t think about it. Her life has evolved so much further. She’s got great kids. She’s something, that like from a time warp that that happened in. She really has no interest, or there’s no trace of it. She survived it. She was always telling the truth and that’s why she’s alive.

Iggy Pop.
Iggy Pop! He’s a headliner at the punk rock festival, Burger Boogaloo, this year, both nights that we’re hosting in Oakland. I saw Iggy recently. I did his radio show (“Iggy Confidential”) with him. We talked about scary Halloween music together.

Pat Moran.
Pat Moran’s my best friend in the world. She has cast everything from all my movies, then she went on to “The Wire.” She’s, I think, won an Emmy two or three times (“Veep,” “Game Change,” “Homicide: Life on the Street”). She’s been nominated (seven) times. She was also with me at the Writers Guild (ceremony). She and her husband are my closest friends.

What did you think about her as a talent? What made her special to you?
Well, because she could just recognize people that could do it, and were believable. She knew all types. You always believed the people that Pat cast. She went to different communities to get people that maybe wouldn’t have been actors and helped turn them into them.

Finally, Divine.
Divine, I miss him. Divine would have wanted to be in every single “Hairspray” that’s ever come out. He probably would have played many different roles. By the end, when Divine died, he was playing male roles. He probably would have wanted to play, I don’t know, Corny Collins.

John Waters has become a New Orleans holiday tradition, you sickos

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 3.41.31 PMOne 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: