Guillermo Prieto/
John Waters performs at the McCallum. Credit: Guillermo Prieto/

When John Waters took the stage Tuesday night at the McCallum Theatre, his raspy voice made it obvious that he was a bit under the weather. (Later in the night, he mentioned fighting an ear infection.) However, his illness didn’t stop Waters from delivering a fantastic spoken-word comedy show—most of which was related to Christmas.

Waters often spoke about his favorite leading lady, the late, great Divine (Glenn Milstead). He mentioned that the recent documentary I Am Divine didn’t include the fact that Divine loved Christmas decorations, to the point of overcharging his parents’ credit card to buy them—and then lying about. He also affirmed a story about how Divine bounced checks, lied to the authorities about it, and still managed to pass a lie detector test.

Another amusing story involved a young Waters and his lady friends getting high on a combination of LSD and amphetamines, and driving around and stealing Christmas gifts from cars. Waters earned laughs as he said that mediocre gifts would often get thrown out the window, and that the ladies would “return” other gifts for cash.

Waters addressed a quote attributed to him that’s circulating around the Internet: “If you go home with somebody, and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ’em!” He conceded that the rule doesn’t apply if that somebody happens to be cute enough. (The same goes for racists, he admitted.) He also told an amusing story about how he once took home a carnie, and that Waters didn’t know the carnie had a fake leg until he saw the man remove the leg and perform fellatio on himself.

This was Waters’ Christmas show, of course, so he discussed in detail what he hates about Christmas, such as getting e-mail based Christmas cards, and receiving gift cards as presents. He affirmed that the best gifts are books—and mentioned various strange and rare (and even nonexistent) editions of books he would like to receive.

At the end of the show, he gave the audience the opportunity to ask some questions. The first question came from a woman who asked if he was Daniel Tosh’s father; he replied that he didn’t have kids, and didn’t want any kids—although he’s a great uncle, and would help the kid do a number of amusing things, up to and including “getting an abortion.” One woman told him that her brother showed her Pink Flamingos when she was 12 years old. An interesting moment came when someone asked him about Manson family member Leslie Van Houten, who is a friend of his. Becoming serious for a moment, Waters explained that although Van Houten did bad with the Manson Family, he feels that she deserves clemency, because she’s reformed and has done amazing things with her life, despite being behind bars.

The last question he took involved what he would want on his gravestone. He replied he would only want his name, date of birth, and date of death, explaining that gravestones aren’t a good place for jokes.

Fortunately, the McCallum was indeed a great place for jokes and laughter on Tuesday night. The Pope of Trash didn’t pull any punches during a raunchy, vulgar and downright hilarious night of stories and comedy.

Brian Blueskye

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Brian Blueskye moved to the Coachella Valley in 2005. He was the assistant editor and staff writer for the Coachella Valley Independent from 2013 to 2019. He is currently the...