Looks uncomfortable.
Looks uncomfortable. INOAH LYON
Consider yourself warned: John Waters is coming.

The shameless Prince of Puke (or as his more recent press materials identify him, the “people’s pervert”) is back with an all-new holiday show at the Neptune in early December. Although he’s up to his mustache in preparation, he granted us a few minutes to discuss having sex in a childhood home, his current book and TV obsessions, and who he considers the best person to catch COVID from.

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Are your Christmas plans different this year?

Well, I’m making less plans. I’m not going to have my Christmas party because I can’t have 200 people in my house, so I’m writing the show right now. It is completely different. Every comedy show I’ve ever done has to be completely redone because nothing’s the same.

So who knows, people are thinking, “God, I’m going home, I haven’t seen those people in two years,” you know what I mean? Trump lost and the other side won. The last time there was Christmas it was the other way around. The people who are defensive have switched. And then there’s the anti-vaxxer question and all that. It’s sometimes even more of a minefield to go home this time. What do you do if some of your relatives are going to be there and have refused to get the vaccination? I don’t know, I’ve gotten twelve shots, I get them in my forehead, I’ll mainline them. I'll shoot up, take suppositories up my ass … I take everything they give me.

I’m glad to hear you’re well protected.

Overly protected. I’m antibody-crazy.

Is there anything you want for Christmas?

It hasn’t even entered my mind yet. I do have everything I need. But I love when people find me rare weird books, not necessarily that cost a lot, but that I didn’t know about or that are so weird. I collect weird books. I have a book called Extreme Ironing that just makes me laugh out loud every time I see the cover. It’s people ironing on top of mountains. Why would anyone do that? How many copies did this book sell? Those are the kinds of books that really get to me.

Do you have much time to read while you’re working on a show?

Oh yes, I always have time to read. Every night I read, and I’m on airplanes a lot. Recently on airplanes, I’m memorizing shows, but I’m always reading a book.

What are you reading now?

The Jonathan Franzen [Crossroads]. It’s good. But I always have ten books in line to read. I’m never not reading books. … It’s the only way I relax.

And I watched more TV than the editor of TV Guide during this thing.

Did you see anything good?

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I’ve just been watching the Monica Lewinsky one now. I watched the one about the American Taliban, the one about the DC sniper. So sometimes I watch the true crime ones. But as soon as I see reenactments I know that I’ll hate them.

You don’t like reenactments?

No, that just means that they didn’t have the footage!

Is Christmas one of those holidays that gays celebrate differently from straights?

I think now more people bring home their partners for Christmas and it’s accepted. But now I wonder, do people have sex in their childhood bedrooms when they go home with their partners to visit their parents? That’s the thing that’s really an awkward situation.

Being in the town where you grew up is very different when you have access to Grindr.

Oh, well I’ve never been on Grindr, even though they offered me a job — to have an advice column. They had so many people on Grindr that aren’t looking for sex that they were trying to develop content, but I don’t know, I can’t be the Ann Landers of Grindr.

I can’t be on there. What am I going to say? I see sex things where they say, “come on over and we’ll watch a John Waters movie.” I’ve got ‘em all, I’ll be there!

I think you’d be a hit.

No, I think not. Although I talk about in my show what it would be like if I decide to be a prostitute at my age. John Retchy only retired from that recently. It’s a backup plan! If the Christmas tour had been cancelled this year, who knows!

If you could throw a holiday party this year, who’d be on the list?

My Baltimore party is not a celebrity party. It’s for the people I’ve known my entire life who helped me get to where I am. It’s lots of Baltimore people; it’s lots of family. And lots of famous people too, but they’re always in the minority.

The guy that played the singing asshole in Pink Flamingos, I used to see him every year with his wife. He died this year, and I didn’t get to see him before he died.

I haven’t had that party in two years, and it’s a shame because sometimes that’s the only time I see those people. Those people are important to me and I don't want to lose touch.

I don’t trust people that don’t have old friends. It’s work to have old friends. You have to keep it up. You have to put out to get it.

How do you stay in touch with people?

You have to call people. You have to go out to lunch with them, you have to go out to dinner. You have to make the effort. They have to make it back, too — it can’t be one-sided.

Online is not enough, that’s a lazy way to be social. It’s too easy.

I’ve heard that you’re resistant to putting stuff online.

I'm not a luddite, I'm on the computer all day long. But … why would I do Instagram or the other thing? Why would I give away my material? I need stuff for my books and my shows. That's how I make a living. Every little joke I had or every comment, if I put that on Instagram I wouldn’t have any work.

Do you frequently jot down stuff like that?

I just finished a novel that took three years to write, I’m working on a script, I have to rewrite my spoken word show which is now called False Negative, the Christmas show, I’m going to Poland next week to do my show. I’m busier than I’ve ever been in my entire life.

My ears perked up when you said you’re working on a script.

I can’t talk about it. I can’t. If I talk about it, it won’t happen.

You also had the Prayer for Pasolini album.

That was amazing. I did go to Rome in the middle of the pandemic because I was honored at the Rome film festival, which was pretty much virtual.

When you’re in Rome in the fall you’re outside a lot anyway. But we did have a big dinner with celebrities and I thought, “well, here's the spreader event.” … I was sitting next to Isabelle Huppert. I can't think of a better person to get it from. But we were all fine.

Is there stuff you’re looking forward to doing when the pandemic restrictions go away?

I sit around every day and touch my face now. It’s something they don’t say you can’t do anymore. It’s impossible not to do. I remember fearing that so much, so touching my face is my favorite thing.

Are there any Christmas rules that you think are sacrosanct?

Oh yeah, I talk about that. I think gift cards mean that you think the person is stupid. I think regifting, you can always tell when you open it no matter how good it is. I think you should never put in your children’s stockings sundries like deodorant and razor blades and practical things — unless it’s Narcan and Plan B.

I think Christmas caroling should come back, because even bad ones are kind of scary when you open the door and people are shrieking Christmas carols at you. It’s something that hasn’t happened to me in a long time. I’m glad it hasn’t, but I like the terror of it.

What are your Halloween plans?

I’m working. I’m doing two shows in Minneapolis and I’m doing Oberlin College. I’m like a drag queen on Halloween. Always working.

Do you not have a break until January?

I don’t actually. I don’t.

What are you excited about in the new show?

Just to be back! Seattle’s been part of the tour every year. I’m hoping to go see my friend Dina Martina’s house. I always have a great audience in Seattle. I used to come there all the time with my films. I always feel at home.

What’s your favorite thing about Seattle?

My audience. They get it. You never have to worry if they’re going to. They just seem smart, and at the same time open for the kind of humor that I bring. I’m thankful that these people have let me get away with it for this long.

That’s so nice and wholesome.

I am weirdly wholesome. Even though I may bring in some Christmas sex acts you’ve never heard of.

Interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.