i'd rather be in haena   

or anyplace with more trees and less concrete

John Waters At the Swedish American Hall

by admin - December 6th, 2006.
Filed under: john waters, movies, music, small talk.

waters scribbleA good friend asked me to join her for a little something called A John Waters Christmas at the Fillmore on Monday night. She mentioned something about “VIP tickets” and I got all excited. Waters, a multifaceted culture vulture, is a cinematic hero of mine. I feel a special perverse kinship with his sense of humor and style. To make the event even more special, rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson was scheduled to open.
On Sunday we were informed the event would be moved to the Swedish American Hall in the Castro due to low ticket sales. This place has held a very special place in my heart ever since Fred Hughes and his lovely wife Marcelle held their wedding reception there– with Thor as musical guest– years ago.
VIP tickets. I wasn’t sure what the story was; usually that meant early/preferred seating and some sort of reception line where you might get to shake hands and say hi, right?
We arrived at the hall at 6:30. We were ushered to a banquet room beneath the performance space and seated at a small conference table draped with a cheery holiday tablecloth and covered with dishes full (and jumbo, movie-concession-sized boxes) of Dots, Jujyfruits and Good N Plenty. Six other people joined us on one side of the table and we chatted, wondering what to expect. You could feel that everyone was excited.
Fifteen minutes later Mr. Waters was brought to us and he sat directly opposite me. With little ceremony and a big smile he asked all our names, where we were from, and what we did for a living. It was obvious he’d done this before and didn’t want to deal with a bunch of starstruck, moon-eyed fans. You could sense the room relax and the flow of conversation began. Of course, he had to put up with a dumb question or two (me: “Who has the rights to Russ Meyers’ work? Why can’t you buy his stuff on DVD?” John: “You can. Go to rmfilms.com.” Oh).
A friendly, engaged and gracious host, Waters spent around forty minutes discussing movies, TV and pop culture ephemera with us, put away at least half a bowl of candy, then posed for photos (hopefully will have a pic or two to post soon) and signed autographs. Then we went upstairs for the show.
It started late because they wanted to give extra time for folks who’d gone to the Fillmore to travel to the Castro district. Wanda Jackson got an adulatory reception. Her backing band, Red Meat, knew all the songs (they’re a local band who’d met her the day before, and only had time for one or two rehearsals) and Wanda was in top form, belting out all her hits and telling stories about Elvis Presley and Brenda Lee between songs. At times Jackson appeared a tad confused by what was going on around her, but the audience absolutely loved her and she seemed touched by the response.
Waters’ 45 minute performance was hilarious. He stood at a weath-bedecked lectern and ranted about what he wanted for (and hated about) Christmas. The humor was definitely Castro-oriented and our very colorful audience of local freaks ate it up. Halfway through the routine I was giggling so hard I was gasping for breath and left the hall hoarse from laughing.
My signed box of Jujyfruits is posted above. An unforgettable experience, and many thanks to my friend Kim for inviting me.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.