This oddball collection skips the predictable stuff and instead offers some rare archival recordings that are guaranteed to make you laugh and/or really creep you out. Among the highlights: Roger Christian's "Little Mary Christmas," a maudlin, unintentionally funny country weeper about a crippled orphan; Rudolph and the Gang's "Here Comes Fatty Claus," which excoriates that "prick" Santa and "his sack of shit"; and Akim and the Teddy Vann Production Company's "Santa Claus Is a Black Man," a funky bit of yuletide social activism. All of these tunes are songs that Waters has collected over the years and shared with friends at his annual Christmas party.
Turns out that Waters is a bit of a Christmas nut. He wrote about it in his book Crackpot: The Obsessions of John Waters, and set part of his 1974 film Female Trouble during the holidays.
We caught up with Waters at his home base of Baltimore to get the story behind the album and his unrelenting Christmas jones.
Creative Loafing: Why are you so into Christmas?
Waters: There's always a fever pitch of emotion for everybody, so it's always interesting. It seems like really terrible things happen at Christmas and really great stuff. A Christmas tree once fell over on my grandmother when I was young, and that's been inspiring me for decades. [There's a falling tree scene in Female Trouble.] I wasn't there, but I became obsessed by the details. It began to piss my parents off.
So, why the album?
I've had the same Christmas party in Baltimore for over 40 years. I wanted to do an album that was like inviting you over to my house and letting me entertain you with songs that I'm pretty sure most people haven't heard. I wanted to include songs where you'd be amazed that there ever was such a song. They're hideous, but they're beautifully hideous.
Since you're so into Christmas music, do you go caroling or anything?
Oh God, no. But in the old days, I always wanted to get together the scariest friends that I had and just knock on people's doors and shriek Christmas carols at them. I never actually did it, but we used to think about it when we were on LSD.
In the liner notes, you mention having "the hots" for the Chipmunks. [The album includes the furry trio's "Sleigh Ride."] What's that all about?
I was 12 when I first heard the Chipmunks, and that's probably when I reached puberty. I could never get over it. The very first minute I heard the Chipmunks, I went insane.
Who's hotter: Alvin, Theodore or Simon?
Theodore was the least known, so I identified with him. Alvin was the star, and Theodore was always in the background. But I felt that Theodore was better read. He was the one with the ideas.
Have you ever hooked up with a stuffed Chipmunk?
No, that would be a plushie. I'm not that. Have I ever had sex with someone dressed as a Chipmunk? No. That isn't a fantasy, really. However, if someone really looked cute and could talk with their voice sped up, that would be a turn-on.
Any more music plans?
Yes, I have a deal. The next one is A Date with John Waters. It's a love album. It has me on the cover in front of a fireplace, like Andy Williams, with a drink and a cardigan sweater. I always loved music. I've been doing this my whole life. After going out to bars, people used to come over and I'd play them records. I guess I'm a frustrated DJ.