Does anyone remember back to when John Waters was not a household name, and given to slightly cuddly images of quirky Baltimore urban families, all lovey-dovey in their gender-crazy dysfunction? Like, back to that first theater-clearing moment when Divine brought the purposefully atrocious Pink Flamingos to a close? And Waters hadn’t taken his schtik to camp-meets-the-grandparents nostalgia levels? It’ll be interesting to see whom the upcoming Bardavon presentation of A John Waters Christmas – featuring the dry-voiced and witted raconteur himself – will draw out to the Bardavon on Saturday, December 1 in a very special benefit for the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center.
Perfect for someone who still holds pre-gentrified Baltimore so close to his heart, complete with that second-wheel city’s great “Miracle on 34th Street” holiday lights extravaganza, the show features Waters in monologue from a sleigh full of sticks and stones, talking about how “Christmas crazy” he feels this year: “needy, greedy, horny for presents and filled with an unnatural desire to please.” Topics upon which he alights, we hear, include everything from his “religious fanaticism” for Santa Claus and passions for holiday movies and music to a host of real-life holiday horror stories.
Before he achieved mainstream fame with Cry Baby and Hairspray, the latter made into a Broadway hit and Hollywood do-over, John Samuel Waters, Jr., created intentionally trashy epics starring a cast of local non-talents cast in a series of late 1970s midnight classics, starting with Desperate Living and eventually including a number of star convicts and porn stars in his family-unvalued narratives. He has since gone on to write a number of best-selling books and become a character in others’ films and screen adventures himself.
Consider this in the tradition of David Sedaris’ annual holiday shows, Bad Santa and a nice antidote to what Glenn Beck was trying to do with his stories about a sweater in recent years.
A John Waters Christmas to benefit the LGBTQ Center in Kingston, Saturday, December 1, 8 p.m., $100/$60/$40/$30, Bardavon 1869 Opera House, 35 Market Street, Poughkeepsie; (845) 473-2072, (845) 339-6088, https://www.bardavon.org.