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60 Seconds With . . . John Waters

December 13, 2007|Margaret Wappler

The famously mustachioed director isn't letting the holiday season slow him down. He's touring snowy cities with his spoken-word show "A John Waters Christmas," writing a book and preparing to shoot "Fruitcake," a children's Christmas adventure. Plus, he lent his witty drawl to "Plagues and Pleasures of the Salton Sea," which screens tonight at the Echo Park Film Center (see previous page). No need for New Year's resolutions when you get so much done.

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WHY DID YOU WANT TO NARRATE "PLAGUES AND PLEASURES OF THE SALTON SEA"? The Salton Sea seems like my kind of place. I love desert rats, and I mean that with great respect. Extreme communities and, certainly, desert towns are the opposite of how I grew up, so I'm fascinated with them.

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"CRY-BABY" IS AT THE LA JOLLA PLAYHOUSE. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR SECOND MOVIE TRANSFERRED TO THE STAGE?

"Cry-Baby" is different from "Hairspray." It's really smart-ass and funny and what juvenile delinquent musicals should be. I've been spoiled so far: I love both of them. Now I'm waiting for "Polyester: On Ice." You never know.

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WHAT WILL YOU BE DOING FOR THE HOLIDAYS THIS YEAR?

I've had a Christmas party every year in Baltimore since I was 18. It's everyone in Baltimore I know. There are some people I see only once a year. It's everyone from the guy who plays the singing anus in "Pink Flamingos" to my mother. The governor usually comes too. Every other year, I go to Gstaad, the most famous skiing resort in Switzerland, but this year it's Baltimore, so my whole family gets together. It's fairly traditional.

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WHAT'S THE STRANGEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT YOU'VE EVER RECEIVED?

My fans send me amazing presents. I got a statue, like Franklin Mint gone insane, of Divine knocking over a Christmas tree on her mother from "Female Trouble." The lights blink and everything. It reminds me of the famous story of my grandmother's tree falling on her when she was a child. That image inspired me for the rest of my life to love Christmas.

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WHAT IS IT ABOUT THAT IMAGE?

Because it's so sacred and ridiculous. Everywhere I go, people tell me, "Well, the Christmas tree fell in our house. One year my Mom was drunk and the tree fell." There's this horrible pressure at Christmas to be happy with your family. One little accident can trigger emotional outbursts that are alarming and humorous.

-- Margaret.Wappler@latimes.com

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