Just Do Arts, Nov. 28, 2013

John “The Pope of Trash” Waters puts the “X” in Xmas, in his terribly inappropriate holiday solo show.    PHOTO BY GREG GORMAN

John “The Pope of Trash” Waters puts the “X” in Xmas, in
his terribly inappropriate holiday solo show. PHOTO BY GREG GORMAN

BY SCOTT STIfFLER  |  A JOHN WATERS CHRISTMAS  From having doggie doo for dinner to fending off the unwanted advances of a giant lobster, John Waters has a knack for making bad taste feel good. Of course, in Waters’ capable hands, there’s a big difference between celebrating bad taste and elevating what’s just plain distasteful. You need look no further for an example of that than the nearest “Housewives” reality show. Their trashy, train wreck shenanigans are far less appealing than the Baltimore-born filmmaker’s self-proclaimed “celluloid atrocities” in early works such as “Multiple Maniacs” and “Pink Flamingos.” Waters’ up-for-anything drag collaborator Divine may be gone — but the renegade aesthetic they cultivated is alive and well, and placed under a tree that’ll be toppled if Santa doesn’t deliver on those coveted cha-cha heels (see “Female Trouble” for that incident, based on Waters’ childhood memory of the holiday tree falling on Grandma).

Create some precious memories of your own, by attending “A John Waters Christmas.” Performed only twice this December, the filmmaker, essayist and bane of the Catholic League’s existence will “cruise into town on his sleigh full of smut, spreading yuletide cheer and lunacy.” That boils down to, we’re told, an evening in which the troubled Waters discusses everything from his “compulsive desire to give and receive perverted gifts to his religious fanaticism for Santa Claus to an unhealthy love of real-life holiday horror stories.”

Fri., Dec. 13 and Sat., Dec. 14. At Stage 48 (605 W. 48th St., btw.  11th & 12th Aves.). Doors 7:30pm, show 8pm. For tickets ($45, $99 for meet & greet), visit stage48.com/events

L to R: Reverend Jacqui Lewis, Ph.D, pianist Mimi Stern-Wolfe and director Rohan Spong (whose documentary “All the Way Through Evening” screens on Dec. 1 at Middle Collegiate Church, then opens at Village Cinema East on Dec. 6).    PHOTO BY DUNCAN HEWITT, COURTESY OF TA-DAH! PHOTOGRAPHY

L to R: Reverend Jacqui Lewis, Ph.D, pianist Mimi Stern-Wolfe and director Rohan Spong (whose documentary “All the Way Through Evening” screens on Dec. 1 at Middle Collegiate Church, then opens at Village Cinema East on Dec. 6). PHOTO BY DUNCAN HEWITT, COURTESY OF TA-DAH! PHOTOGRAPHY

DOCUMENTARY: ALL THE WAY THROUGH EVENING
“I have vivid recollections of the food program they had for men really debilitated by the illness during the horror years of it all,” says Mimi Stern-Wolfe of Middle Collegiate Church’s efforts during the height of the AIDS crisis. Reacting to the loss of many creative contemporaries, Stern-Wolfe channeled her experience as a pianist, conductor and teacher into a new effort — and in the process, became an activist and producer whose Benson AIDS Series (founded in 1990) keeps alive the memory, and the music, of local composers lost to AIDS. “I could see the outreach they were doing,” says Stern-Wolfe of Middle Collegiate’s AIDS ministry, “and it seemed like a good fit with what I was trying to say with the concerts.”

Play on: Mimi Stern-Wolfe’s efforts to preserve the work of others is, itself, captured for the ages — in Rohan Spong’s musical documentary.  PHOTO COURTESY OF THE FILMMAKERS

Play on: Mimi Stern-Wolfe’s efforts to preserve the work of others is, itself, captured for the ages — in Rohan Spong’s musical documentary. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE FILMMAKERS

On December 1, as part of Collegiate’s World AIDS Day Art & Soul worship celebration, Stern-Wolfe will be on hand to once again play a few solo piano works from the Benson series repertory. The service will also include a screening of Rohan Spong’s “All the Way Through Evening.” The Australian director’s acclaimed musical documentary looks at Stern-Wolfe’s longtime (and ongoing) efforts to collect, archive and perform the moving final compositions of her friends.

Before the film screens, the service will feature music from members of the Middle Church Jerriese Johnson Gospel Choir (named for its founder and director, who died of AIDS). Half of the night’s offering will be donated to the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (gmhc.org). Former minister Rev. Gordon Dragt, who pastored during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, will return and co-preach with Rev. Jacqui Lewis.

“All the Way Through Evening” screens at Middle Collegiate Church (112 Second Ave., at Seventh St.) at 7pm (World AIDS Day service begins at 6pm) on Sun., Dec. 1. Then, the film opens on Fri., Dec. 6, for a theatrical run at Village East Cinema (189 Second Ave., at 12th St.). Q&A sessions are currently scheduled for opening weekend. For more info, visit allthewaythroughevening.com. For info on the World AIDS Day service, visit middlechurch.org. For more info on the Benson series, visit downtownmusicproductions.org.

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