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Movie Planner: A chat with John Waters and a 'Star Wars' pro


The king of sleaze-chic, John Waters, hasn't released a movie in 11 years, and the world is less fun as a result.

Waters' last movie, A Dirty Shame, starring Tracey Ullman as an accidental sex addict, flopped so badly that producers won't back him anymore.

Waters isn't complaining about that. He's just as happy authoring books and hitting the road for speaking gigs, like his current tour A John Waters Christmas, stopping Wednesday at Clearwater's Capitol Theatre.

"What I like now is that some people put up Halloween and Christmas (decorations) at the same time," Waters said by telephone from his New York apartment. "When you see, like, Jesus and a witch on the same front door. Kind of confusing."

Waters created the farce more than 10 years ago, after writing a facetious chapter in his book Crackpot titled Why I Love Christmas. He updates the show each year, so it made sense to ask about a recent holiday controversy:

Are you like Starbucks with this show, waging war on Christmas?

You know, with the Syrian refugees and ISIS, I really think there are a few more things to worry about other than the color of a cup in Starbucks. I'm scared to even go into Starbucks because one year, somebody gave me a gift card, and it was so humiliating to use it. ... I felt like I was begging.

What would you draw on a Starbucks holiday cup?

I would have Santa as a gay bear, surrounded by twinks flying through the air and veering off, maybe running into baby Jesus. I'd put it all in.

But seriously ...

I am being serious.

... Have you gotten any complaints from folks about your Christmas show?

Never! I don't tear into Jesus. I do talk about a living creche show called Scary Mary that I want to put on. My sister came to the show and asked, "How do you get away with saying that (stuff)?" But nobody ever gets mad. When I was young, I got busted, oh my god, the police would come because parents would have kids committed if they saw my movies. Today, parents come to the show with their alienated children, kind of a last-ditch effort to bond with them. I am politically correct, in a weird, twisted way. My life is a trigger warning.

As a child, what did you want for Christmas?

I always wanted sticks and stones, coal. I wondered, how bad do you have to be to get sticks and stones? If you want to punish your children today, don't give them sticks and stones; that's kind of cool. You have to give them CDs or DVDs because they don't know what they are. The worst thing you could ever give your child is a landline phone. That's how you punish them.

Any special plans this season?

I have a huge Christmas party every year. ... I always tell the bartender to give me 15 drinks, but I want them all to be club soda with just a drop of vodka in each one. It all adds up to three drinks. I'm cooking Christmas dinner for my family this year, which is alarming. The tradition in Maryland is turkey with sauerkraut, for some reason. I've always wanted to serve turkey tartare, just to see what people would do.


Mark Clark literally wrote the book on Star Wars, at least those movies mattering most. Not the only book, mind you, but one billing itself as "everything left to know about the trilogy that changed the movies."

That's right. Clark's Star Wars FAQ doesn't pay much attention to Episodes I, II and III, the CGI-driven Skywalker saga prequels making Jar Jar Binks a ridiculed household name. The author is "cautiously optimistic" that getting franchise creator George Lucas out of the way may be good for the Force. Lucas sold his brainchild to Disney in 2012 for $4 billion.

"As anti-Star Wars as it sounds, to have these movies out of his hands, there's a higher likelihood to get something more interesting," Clark said by telephone. "The people involved do love Star Wars, care about it and share my history of being first-generation fans, wanting something more aligned with that idea of what Star Wars ought to be."

We'll see Dec. 18, when Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuts. (It'll be in some theaters the day before.) Meanwhile, Clark spoke with the Times about the franchise's carpet-bomb marketing and merchandising, and Disney's plan for a Star Wars universe akin to Marvel's empire.

"Right now, a new Star Wars movie is an event, a huge cultural thing," Clark said. "But it won't be if there's a new Star Wars movie every year, or more than one a year. It won't be, 'Stop the presses, a new movie is coming out.' That's where we're headed."

Read more with Clark in Sunday's Latitudes section, and at

in theaters: our Top 5

Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:

1 Room: A unique experience, with terrific performances by Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay.

2 Spotlight: The finest movie about newspaper reporters doing their jobs since All the President's Men.

3 Creed: Worthy successor to Rocky Balboa's underdog boxing title, and maybe an Oscar nod for Sylvester Stallone.

4 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2: Concludes the fantasy franchise that made Jennifer Lawrence a star.

5 Chi-Raq: Spike Lee's antigang, antigun satire is his strongest fiction in years.


(dates subject to change)

Dec. 18: Star Wars: The Force Awakens; Sisters

Dec. 23: The Big Short

Dec. 25: Joy; The Hateful Eight; The Danish Girl; Concussion; Daddy's Home; Point Break

Jan. 8: The Revenant

Jan. 15: Ride Along 2; 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi; Where to Invade Next; The 5th Wave

Jan. 22: Dirty Grandpa

Jan. 29: Kung Fu Panda 3

Movie Planner: A chat with John Waters and a 'Star Wars' pro 12/09/15 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 9, 2015 2:27pm]
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