They say not to meet your idols because they will only disappoint, but not everyone’s idol is the self-described ‘Pope of Trash’ and author of the following quote: “To me, bad taste is what entertainment is all about. If someone vomits during one of my films, it’s like getting a standing ovation.”

I was able to give John Waters a standing ovation -not the vomit kind- after his performance on his annual Christmas speaking tour: because he was insightful, hilarious, and entertaining, and -most importantly – lived up to all of my (high) expectations.

I’ve been fascinated and delighted by Mr. Waters since I was a kid – growing up not far from Baltimore and always feeling like a weirdo. In all honesty, “Hairspray” never really did it for me, but once I got older and started to read JW’s books and see his other movies (meaning, all the ones in “category: other”), my fondness for Mr. Waters and his Dreamland began to grow.

I love(d) his dark, twisted sense of humor and his off-beat intelligence and felt the need to read everything he’s written. I’ve also seen most everything that he’s directed- including Pink Flamingos (…which I don’t have any desire to see again).

I would even study John Waters’ work in school at Marymount Manhattan College in a  class on “Trauma in Literature and Film” taught by a brilliant and creative professor, Michael Colvin, whom I would consider to be a fellow ‘John Waters scholar’. The class explored how various forms of art depicted and dealt with trauma, and the John Waters’ unit, where we read Shock Value and watched Female Trouble was, of course, my favorite part.

So after loving and even studying John Waters work, I was thrilled to buy tickets to his Christmas tour where I knew he’d share his bleak take on this stressful holiday and ease my own December discomfort. (I’m not always a total Grinch but the ONLY Christmas song that I don’t completely loathe is U2’s cover of “Baby Please Come Home“.)

Therefore, the idea of seeing my own Jesus (I mean… if I HAD to pick one) felt like a Christmas miracle, and observing John’s holiday hilarity in its full glory will now always be one of my favorite ‘Christmas’ memories…

I remember JW offering such ‘advice’ as filling your medicine cabinets with marbles for nosy guests, and, after a few cocktails, I somewhat hazily remember getting to ask him a question from the audience.
Mr. Waters has said that he was quite the LSD user in his youth, so I asked “Have you ever had an acid flashback?” and was told “No, and I loved acid. I never had a bad experience in my life. I used to take acid once a week. My mother said not to tell young people that but I just did…”

Then, after the show, I stood in line to get “Shock Value” signed and got to meet John Waters himself. I introduced myself and told him that I was a writer, to which he replied “Wonderful! Keep writing!” and happily signed my book and posed for the photo.
It was an unforgetable night. And I still haven’t gotten over the shock value of meeting him.

*PS: The remake of “Hairspray” is only worth turning on to creep everyone out because John Travolta’s fat suit makes his eyes look squished together and his face like a bloated gerbil*