John Waters, Eat Me + Preach: Homotopia, Liverpool

By Planet Slop
Wed 19 December, 2018

When John Waters comes to town, all bets are off. Planet Slop enjoyed a weekend of bad taste with The Pope of Trash and Liverpool’s very own Eat Me + Preach. 

John Waters seemed to take over the spirit of Liverpool’s LGBT community recently.

Naturally, this was due to his appearance at Homotopia, and several events throughout the festival seemed to centre around him. In fact, Planet Slop basically spent a weekend in a John Waters state of mind.

It all started on the Friday afternoon – a little worse for wear following the Gay Times Honours the previous night. Two of our team managed to score a place at a table with the man himself; afternoon tea with John Waters. It was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.

We headed to the Hope Street Hotel, where a lavish array of sandwiches, cakes, tea, coffee and wine were laid out. The guest of honour arrived (without any kind of entourage, we’re happy to note) and joined us on a large table to discuss perhaps the most bizarre array of topics; celebrity breakdowns, Trump, how he buys Bjork albums but only listens to them once, terrorism, the strange gifts he gets sent and how the worst place to die would be in baggage handling at the airport.

To our astonishment, he sat next to the Planet Slop team and stayed there for approximately 40 minutes, moving only to take pictures with everybody.

We meet quite a few famous people from time to time, but John was not only the most interesting, but the most generous with his time. He may be pure filth, but he is a true gentleman too (in a twisted kind of way).

This prepped us perfectly for a special John Waters themed Eat Me + Preach in District.

It was subtitled the Bad Taste Edition. This seemed apt, and emcee Auntie Climax warned us ahead of time what we were in for. Let it be known that Eat Me + Preach isn’t for the faint hearted.

Marilyn Misandry opened the cabaret show and if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like if a drag performer got naked and shat into a bucket before a man dressed as a pig came and ate the contents to the sound of The Scatman, then this was the performance for you.

This did put me off the three course meal a little, but it has to have been one of the most uncompromising nights we have seen in the city. There is a side to queer culture that is freaky and twisted.  It is as alternative as you can get, and as queer culture becomes more mainstream, it is actually bizarrely comforting to know that there is an element such as this which is unlikely to crossover. It is the grotty little corner, the dirty secret.

Speaking of the meal, the three courses were fully vegan; there was a starter, a main course and a desert, all made to fit in with the theme of the evening. The burger was pretty damn good actually. I’m no food critic – in fact, I don’t even actively enjoy eating most of the time and am the walking definition of a fussy eater – so I’m unlikely to be able to break down any legitimate culinary opinions. But perhaps a reshuffle of the running order would have helped the food be a bit more appetising.

The one reprieve of the night came from Day Matter, a naked poet. You couldn’t help but look at each act and wonder what deeper meaning they were shooting for.  For example Matter’s nakedness had everything on show, and the obvious conclusion to draw from that would be that it is a way to communicate the honesty of his poetry.

In truth, the cabaret probably went on a bit too long for us. After food and a few drinks, we were aching for the Preach club night element to kick in (and when it did, it was a bona fide jam).

But it has to be said, that Eat Me + Preach are able to provide a platform for such wildly experimental and non-conforming performance art is truly commendable. It definitely isn’t for everyone,  and you shouldn’t go if you’ve just watched the occasional episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race and assume that gets you up to speed.

But it is a unique experience, especially in a city such as this. It tackles taboos in its own unique way and creates a world all of its own, where the freaky queer outcasts can reign in a way that society would never allow. There is a stage here for all kinds of queer artists – disabled, with dwarfism, trans, cis, you name it. And it’s a feeling that spreads through the room.

Homer’s Phobia – looking back at John Waters in The Simpsons

After that madness, John Waters’ one man show at the Philharmonic Hall felt like a comedown.

He essentially told the story of his career, providing anecdotes and veering off on tangents, sharing his thoughts on a myriad of topics.

What really stands out is his open mindedness. That old adage of people growing older and becoming more conservative isn’t true of him – even in the way most older gentlemen complain about the youngsters. The common complaint today is that the kids aren’t wild enough (ironic, huh?). Waters counters this by saying that the kids are having just as much fun as his generation were, but in an entirely different way that his own generation doesn’t understand. It is refreshing to hear.

He frittered from  topic to topic so quickly that after the performance it was hard to keep track – much like the afternoon tea we had with him a day earlier.

Naturally, much of the performance was scripted, but without a doubt the highlight of the night came with the Q&A after his main set. Freed from the structured show, he proved a compelling raconteur and we were taken back to the previous afternoon. There really isn’t much difference between his on stage persona and off stage personality.

It wasn’t stand up, it was more than that. It was insight, not only into his art but into the man himself. It doesn’t take long in his presence to figure out what makes him tick (let’s face it, he has no qualms about just blurting it out). But for fans of John Waters, there probably isn’t a better way for you to spend the evening.

The performance was over at an early hour. This allowed him to sit in the Philharmonic Hall bar and do a meet and greet  to take pictures, sign books. We left before he did – obliging everyone with his wit, humour and strangely intoxicating personality.  He has a genuine interest in people and the world around him, and more so than his films, this is why he is an icon.  Even if he does revel in filth.

Eat Me + Preach gallery