Pencil-mustached film director, author and revered trash-culture icon John Waters brings his bawdy annual one-man Christmas show to the Great American Music Hall for a sold-out performance Thursday night.
Something of a Bay Area institution despite his continuing connection with his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland -- Waters maintains an apartment in San Francisco and has been delivering hilarious, off-color band introductions at the annual Mosswood Meltdown punk festivals for years -- Waters has made San Francisco a regular stop for his speaking engagements and book tours.
Expelled from NYU where he was studying film in the 1960s, Waters rose to notoriety thanks to his string of '70s campy midnight movies including Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble and Desperate Living. Making up what the director termed his "Trash Trilogy," the films shredded the boundaries of conventional propriety and movie censorship with outrageous dialog and action as well as establishing drag queen Divine -- Waters' childhood friend and muse, Harris Glenn Milstead -- as an actor and cult figure.
Waters would eventually go on to more mainstream success with his later films like Hairspray (which inspired the Broadway musical and movie adaptation), the Johnny Depp film Cry-Baby and the scathing satire Serial Mom, but he has remained an icon of trash culture between his b-movie appearances, books and This Filthy World is a one-man stage show exploring his artistic origins. Though he has not directed a new film since he made A Dirty Shame in 2004, Waters has found other creative outlets.
Waters first started publishing books related to his films and collecting stories and essays written for magazines in the 1980s and has ramped up his writing over the past decade, including the travelogue "Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America" the memoir/essay collection "Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdon of a Filth Elder," and his first novel, "Liarmouth...A Feel Bad Romance" last year. Waters has also extensively explored visual arts with mixed media and manipulated photo exhibits that by his own admission aim to inspire disgust with the viewer. This year, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles staged an exhibition of costumes, props, scripts, drawings, correspondence, photography and other oddball ephemera related John Waters' filmography.
A longtime champion of Christmas who curated a holiday compilation of bizarre and kitschy seasonal songs that was released almost 20 years ago, Waters promises celebrity blow up dolls and kindergarten detention drag shows in the latest edition of his onstage Christmas spectacular. For the tour's sold-out Thursday night stop at the Great American Music Hall, popular SF selector DJ Omar (Popscene, Leisure) warms up the crowd with a mix of left-field Christmas tunes.
A John Waters Christmas: Let's Blow it Up
Thursday, Nov. 30, 7 p.m. $67.50-$135
Great American Music Hall
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