By Michael Varrati
The city of San Francisco is certainly accustomed to oddity and thinking outside the box. However, even the most jaded citizen of the Golden Gate metropolis had occasion to take pause this past Saturday night as a most unusual occurrence took place outside of the Bridge Theatre:
It began to snow.
As large, hearty flakes gradually drifted to the street below, passersby began to realize with mounting understanding that such a winter wondrous site could only have been delivered by San Francisco’s own reason for the season- Peaches Christ.
Within the theatre itself, our very own mistress of merry mayhem was prepping for her first ever Midnight Mass Christmas spooktacular. Laying a scene of season’s tidings and ultimate sacrilege, the evening’s event was centered on the original killer Santa movie, Christmas Evil (aka You Better Watch Out), and boasted an appearance from the film’s director, Lewis Jackson. If the snow was any indicator, it was evident from the get-go that Peaches was determined to present the Christmas horror prototype in the utmost style.
As audience members made their way into the theatre, they were greeted by a stately manger, presided over by a shining angel (played with divine presence by Salon). Gradually, as the seats filled, other visitors from afar made their way to the scene, preparing for the birth of the most flawless of babies. Mingling with the crowd, it was not unusual to spot a camel, sheep, or one of the Three Wise-Trans as they made their way to the little holy hovel at the room’s front.
Of course, no nativity scene would be the same without the holy couple…and though there were many marys in the room that night, only one was truly immaculate. As Mary and Joseph (played by Midnight Mass regulars Cousin Wonderlette and L. Ron Hubby, respectively) took their place in the manger, the holiest of music began to swell, signifying the show’s start. With Mary doubling over in contractions and the sloppiest of vaginal noises echoing through the room, the audience was understandably tense. After all, they were witnessing something truly miraculous: The birth of Christ.
…with an epic swell, a miniature Peaches was removed from the holy mother…and then the real deal took the stage to uproarious applause. Clad in Santa red and satanic Christmas lights, Peaches took her place as the reigning Christ of San Francisco Christmas…and the crowd could not have been happier.
Inviting her tragically flawed side-elf Martiny to join her on-stage, the cult leader launched into a brand new duet (and her first ever with Martiny) titled “It’s Fucking Christmas” and encouraged her manger-scene brethren to cast their holy robes aside to dance along with her in sin. While it may not have been the most radio friendly carol, it was extremely evident that for the Midnight Mass audience, the tune would soon become an annual favorite.
Bidding her holy family and Martiny adieu, Peaches gleefully introduced the evening’s guest of honor, Lewis Jackson, to the stage. Clearly overwhelmed with the level of appreciation and love his most notorious movie was being given, Jackson began immediately regaling the audience with tales of the film’s troubled history. From encounters with organized crime to a European cameraman who sky-rocketed his budget, Jackson pulled no punches and held nothing back, much to the delight of a cult-hungry crowd.
“John Waters saved my life,” Jackson said to an array of cheers, alluding to the fact that the Baltimore icon once rescued Christmas Evil from relative obscurity, helping it find a new audience on the home video market.
Knowing the impact that Waters had on the film, Peaches immediately jumped in to agree with Jackson about the lasting stamp John Waters has had not only on Christmas Evil, but on many cult films and filmmakers.
“He’s my idol,” Peaches shared, “…and he certainly inspired me.”
Then, with a wry grin, Peaches shared one tidbit that came as a true Christmas surprise to many in the audience:
“…and he’s here tonight!”
As a spotlight flashed to Waters (who stood to accept his accolades), the audience greeted the master of trash with the warm welcome he so justly deserved. Surely, by merely showing up, Waters was making a statement. Christmas Evil is a movie John Waters truly loves, and indeed, is part of his holiday tradition. By simply being there, it was as if Waters was encouraging the Midnight Mass audience to also make it one of theirs.
As the moment of mutual respect from the triage of filmmakers passed, Jackson bid the audience a good evening and gave his deepest thanks to all who still supported and loved his tale of seasonal slaughter.
As Jackson exited the stage, Peaches invited the glamorously comedic Lady Bear to join her onstage for the pre-show’s grand finale: A Scary Santa costume contest.
Dragging my All About Evil tour alter-ego Waffles Extravaganza out for the evening, this was definitely my portion of the Christmas Evil event to truly go all out, Midnight Mass-style. Decked out in a black, gothic motif, I joined fellow evil Santas (including the legendary Mad Magda) to receive our Yule-judgment from the mighty Bear queen. Peaches briefly did a bit with each of us while Lady Bear looked on, telling the crowd how I had come to be known as Waffles and expressing shock at Magda’s not-so-child friendly props. Of those gathered, I have no problem admitting that we represented the most evil of what Christmas had to offer. True, I didn’t win (that honor went to Magda), but I’m not sore…I know it’s not because my costume wasn’t up to snuff…but rather because the world just isn’t ready for a black Santa.
As the contest came to a close, Peaches bid the audience happy viewing, cueing the movie’s start. As the lights dimmed and the audience was treated to 90 or so minutes of pure cult cinema goodness, there was an overwhelming feeling throughout the room that Peaches had certainly done Christmas right.
While many of us will return to our hometown friends and families on December 25th, this one night allowed all of us children of the popcorn to celebrate the Christmas holiday in our own blood-soaked way.
So, for those who attended, be grateful to Peaches Christ for giving to you all the ultimate holiday gift. For those who didn’t make it, I suggest you be as naughty as can be in the year to come, and maybe…just maybe…next Christmas, Peaches Christ and her happy band of elves will bring some scares to your holiday season too.
So, from the desk of Waffles Extravaganza, I wish you good fright…
…Merry Christmas to all…and to all a good night!
Photos courtesy of (the fabulous) Emi Stanley