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John Waters returns for Christmas show with customary campiness

John Waters, the 72-year-old maker of campy films with a long-established cult following, will be sporting his familiar pencil-thin mustache on Dec. 7 at Babeville's Asbury Hall while on a 17-city tour for "A John Waters Christmas."

Waters' most well-known, low-budget films were made in Baltimore in the late-1960s and '70s. He used local actors, including Harris Millstead, a drag queen known as Divine. His films included "Pink Flamingos, "Female Trouble" and "Desperate Living" -- movies that skirted censorship rules and that Waters labeled "the Trash Trilogy."

The filmmaker had box-office successes in the 1980s with "Polyester" and "Hairspray," which was turned into a hit Broadway musical.

Question: What can your Buffalo audience expect to see in your Christmas show?

Answer: I've been doing a Christmas show for 14 years, and this year's show is completely rewritten. It's a 70-minute monologue about everything that can possibly happen at Christmas: good, bad, fashion, crime, what you should give people, what you shouldn't give people, how you should decorate and the worst kinds of decorations.

Q: In the Age of Trump I imagine he factors into things.

A: You can't ignore him. It's about bad little girls and boys at Christmas, so, yeah, I would say he would be the ultimate person to get sticks and stones in my book if I was Santa. There's a lot of coal coming his way, but he likes coal, so he'll be happy.

Q: What's it like starting your career from behind a camera and moving on to one-man shows?

A: Well, in the beginning, I would come out with Divine and we kind of had a vaudeville act. So it grew from that, certainly. But I wrote all my movies, wrote all my books and all my shows. This is just a different way of telling stories. I hate being in movies. I am sometimes, but it's not my favorite thing. But I can play myself.

Q: It must be gratifying to have a loyal legion of fans who have been with you since your earliest films.

A: I feel a little like a politician. I stay in touch with my audience. I meet the fans in every city, and what's so great is they always get their hair done and their roots done. They always have good outfits for me.

Q: How difficult is it to memorize a 70-minute monologue?

A: I would never be able to do the monologue if I didn't write it. I have long, short and medium versions, and use file cards and flash cards I carry with me. I spend an hour alone going over it before I go on stage, even on my 17th night, even though I could probably do it in my sleep.

Q: "Polyester" marked a comeback of sorts for one-time Hollywood heartthrob Tab Hunter, who died in July. I imagine you were sad to see him pass away.

A: I talk about Tab in my forthcoming book. He was a great guy and he had a great life, and he just dropped dead. I'm sorry he died, but it's not a bad way to go.


"A John Waters Christmas"

8 p.m. Dec. 7 in Asbury Hall at Babeville (341 Delaware Ave.) Tickets are $40 advance; $45 at the door and $110 VIP packages (box office, Ticketfly, or charge by phone at 877-987-6487).


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