Photos by Greg Gorman.
A John Waters Christmas | 12.14.18, 8:00pm| The Sheldon Concert Hall, 3648 Washington Blvd. | $36-$115
Christmas will be here early this year. On December 14th, John Waters is comin’ to town. To the Sheldon Concert Hall, in particular.
John Waters is the delightful uncle that we all wish we’d had growing up. He’s a filmmaker, author, and collector of “Unsafe Toys for Children.” In the ‘80s, the nuns in my Catholic school had a list of inappropriate movies and I believe every one of his was on it. As soon as I was able, I watched them all.
Uncle John is bringing his show, A John Waters Christmas, to St. Louis this year. This is an annual show he has toured around the world for over 15 years. “I rewrite the show every year and rewrite it with new material,” said Waters during an afternoon chat. “It’s all new jokes—or 80% new. I can’t even remember. I move the jokes around and constantly have to develop new material. That’s why I don’t do press when they just want me to talk about Trump, or you know. Why would anyone have Instagram—they’re giving it all away for free? This is how I make a living! I have to figure out how to do interviews without giving you all of my material—nothing would be new anymore. They should teach this in interview school.”
It might seem odd that a man with a history of dark movies and the amazing nickname “the Ayatollah of Assholes” would celebrate Christmas in this manner. He feels that it’s impossible to avoid, so you can either embrace it or let it get to you. “Everybody, no matter what your age, race, sexuality, religion—you can’t escape Christmas in America. It just comes at you like a tsunami, like a tornado. You can love it, you can embrace it, you can swim in it, it can kill you, it can offend you because it’s about a religion that you don’t believe in. It’s worldwide, not just in America, and it’s something that’s impossible to escape. I delight in that and I have advised many people who hate it or love it. This year it’s especially touchy going home because of politics. Or maybe you have a partner that can come home with you, but you can’t sleep together. There is a lot of unspoken things that go on during the holidays, and I try to talk about all of them, and to give advice to every kind of person—how to get through it.”
In his book Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America, he says that the St Louis Arch is his favorite national monument. “I think it’s the most beautiful thing. I think it’s incredibly beautiful and minimalist. I don’t have a chance to see anything when I visit, but I do believe it’s one of the few monuments that I absolutely adore in America. The other one I went to this summer. I saw Mount Rushmore, and I felt so square and happy. It’s the ultimate outsider art, so I’m for that one too. Minimalist.” In Carsick, Waters also tells of friends who told him that they had sex in the little carts that go up to the top of the Arch. “I never even knew you could go up in it, much less have sex in it.”
In addition to his films, books, and the live show, Mr. Waters has an art exhibition called “Indecent Exposure” currently featured in the Baltimore Museum of Art. The exhibit includes expressions of mass media’s reflection of life, a photographic installation, sculpture, and commentary on pop culture—all with his signature humor worked throughout them. When asked about the show, he said that it was open in the same museum where he first saw contemporary art. “I realized its power to make people angry,” he says. “Even today when I’m there and all of the lights are on at night, I think, ‘God, the Cone collection must be shivering in their boots.’ I can hear the ‘Blue Nude’ (Matisse) going ‘No, no, get that out of here.’ I always imagine that inanimate objects talk when we’re not around.”
Tickets are still available for the show at the Sheldon Concert Hall. And to get into the holiday spirit, Uncle John encourages you to have sex in the Arch on Christmas Eve. Ho Ho Ho. | Melissa Cynova
For more information on John Waters’ upcoming appearance or to buy tickets, click here.