Getting into the Christmas Spirit with John Waters

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Renowned filmmaker and author, John Waters, is back on the road with A John Waters Christmas: Holier and Dirtier, coming to Philadelphia on Tuesday, December 22nd at Union Transfer. Best known for films like Hairspray and Pink Flamingos, Waters’ critically acclaimed one man show pokes fun at the holidays and “puts the X in Xmas.” I got the chance to chat with him about the show, his favorite Christmas albums, best gifts received, and MUCH more in this exclusive Rock On Philly interview.

Rock On Philly: So what inspired you to start performing A John Waters Christmas?
John Waters: I wrote a chapter in my book Crackpot with why I love Christmas and it started with that. It’s a challenge. I’ve been doing this tour for ten years now so I’m always adding new material. All year I’m thinking, “What can I put in the Christmas show?” Philadelphia was the first city outside of Baltimore where my movies first caught on so I’m especially excited about this one. I have really great memories of your city. Even Mondo Trasho played commercially in Philadelphia!

ROP: You do have a lot of fans here…
JW: Well I have fans in Philly but I’m a fan back of Philadelphia. It’s always been a supportive city. Philly is a town where I like the people. Everyone is down to earth and a little bit crazy. And they’re all really cute. Sexy too. The people in Philadelphia are sexy.

Photo Credit: Greg Gorman

Photo Credit: Greg Gorman

ROP: (laughs) You know what, I’ll take it! We are sexy. Thank you Mr. Waters. So when you first think of Christmas, what comes to mind?
JW: I think today I’m like Elvira at Halloween. I’m working it like Johnny Mathis at Christmas! I know I can always pay for my Christmas presents. I have a job. Some people get jobs for extra money by becoming Christmas help in the department stores. Well that’s me. This is my Christmas job. 18 cities.

ROP: So Rock On Philly as you know is a music website so we’ve got to bring music into the conversation. What are your top five Christmas albums of all time?
JW: Johnny Mathis, certainly The Chipmunks, Phil Spector…But I like weird ones! I want Eminem to do a Christmas album, O Come All Ye Hateful! I want Ike to come back from beyond the grave and sing “Jingle Bells” with Tina. I want to have everyone to do a Christmas album.

ROP: (laughs) So you’re a true renaissance man. Is there any chance of you singing a Christmas album of your own one day?
JW: Believe me, if I could sing, I would have exploited that a long time ago. Remember for a while when Justin Bieber said he wanted to quit and become a rapper named Bizzle? I’ve always been a huge fan of Justin Bieber. I kept saying I wanted to team up with him like Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett and I would be Wizzle an he’d be Bizzle and we could sizzle this Christmas! But alas…I can’t sing.

ROP: Justin’s back on his game now too…
JW: (sighs)…I liked him when he was bad.

ROP: (laughs) So my next question relates to music as well. If you could go on tour with any artist, who would it be and why?
JW: it would be Eminem’s ex- wife and Justin Bieber’s father teamed up on pogo sticks singing backup!

ROP: (laughing) Great choice. That’s definitely something I think a lot of people would pay to see. So what can we expect from the show on December 22nd?
JW: Well, it is called A John Water’s Christmas: Holier and Dirtier so you bet we’re going to talk about sex. We’re going to talk about nativity scenes. We’re going to talk about Christmas shoplifting, how to deface Christmas cards, abusive parents, what to give them, and basically how to have a really fun, neurotic Christmas.

Photo Credit: Glen Hanson

Photo Credit: Glen Hanson

ROP: So what do you want for Christmas?
JW: Books, books, books. I always want books. I have a registry in my office. My new obsession is collecting porn parodies of literature, like “From Here to Maternity,” for example. So something like that would be great. I’ve always been absolutely fascinated with the world of porn and sites like porn7, and I get a real kick out of some of these porn parodies.

ROP: (laughing) What are the most memorable gifts you’ve been given at Christmas?
JW: Divine would always give me presents he couldn’t afford, so I knew they were stolen, which made them even more special. He gave me a cashmere blanket once that I still have. When it’s chilly I pull it up over my bed when I’m reading. I gave him a second hand mink coat that year, too. We were very young.

ROP: If you could have any of the twelve gifts from the “12 Days of Christmas” song, which would you pick?
JW: Great question. I don’t know! What are the twelve gifts again?

ROP: Ugh. Shoot. I’m on the spot here. Um. A partridge in a pear tree?
JW: Well, I definitely don’t want that.

ROP: Two Turtle Doves, Three French Hens, Four Calling Birds, Five Golden Rings…
JW: (interjects) So far none of the above.

ROP: Ugh…Eight Maids A Milking?
JW: Oh God, that would be nasty in my house. Eight maids a milking? Next! Honestly, I don’t want any of those things if people will be singing to me. What I want is a turkey and gift baskets filled with cigarettes and sex toys.

If you’d like to see John Waters perform A John Waters Christmas: Holier and Dirtier, be sure to snag tickets here. If you’re a fan of a little holiday mischief, this is definitely a show you won’t want to miss!


  1. Lauren Silvestri

    December 7, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    Haha what a legend! So cool he was able to chat with ROP.

  2. Samantha Sweeney

    December 8, 2015 at 10:58 am

    I just cried laughing. I love this!

  3. Bryana Natale

    December 10, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    This is so freaking hilarious. For the record, “Come All Ye Hateful!” would be the sickest Christmas album out there.

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