“It’s a new concept in home entertainment — the host doesn’t show up.”
Leave it to Baltimore filmmaker, author and gay icon John Waters to put a positive spin on the fact that he missed his own annual holiday party this year because he was in the hospital briefly for treatment of kidney stones.
Waters’s annual bash is one of the most coveted party invitations of the holiday season in Baltimore, in part because guests get to schmooze with Waters, who is known for cult films such as “Pink Flamingos” and “Female Trouble” and books such as “Shock Value” and “Crackpot.” They could have chatted about the busy year he’s had, with “Hairspray Live!” airing on NBC and a restored version of his 1970 film “Multiple Maniacs” released in movie theaters over the summer.
But guests invited to Waters’s North Baltimore home for the party on Dec. 23 say they arrived to learn that the host wouldn’t be present. They say the explanation was that Waters went to the hospital for treatment of kidney stones.
“It was a very weird Friday evening, a John Waters party without John,” one guest said afterwards.
Waters had just ended a whirlwind 18-city tour of his holiday comedy show, “A John Waters Christmas,” with performances at the Birchmere in Alexandria on Dec. 20 and in Baltimore on Dec. 21.
A man who opened the front door at Waters’ house on Monday afternoon declined to provide information about the filmmaker other than to confirm that he was back home from the hospital. The man said he would take a note to the filmmaker.
Waters sent an email message shortly afterwards, addressing the situation with his characteristic humor and aplomb.
“Since my party has always been private and off the record I think I’ll just keep it that way,” Waters wrote. “I am fine and it’s a new concept in home entertainment — the host doesn’t show up. All is well. JW.”
The timing of Waters’ hospital trip made it more than a little worrisome.
Guests at the party couldn’t help but think that it fit into a pattern in which celebrities on both sides of the Atlantic have become ill or passed away in 2016, including musicians Prince, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen. Two days later in Great Britain, Queen Elizabeth, 90, missed a Christmas Day church service due to a “heavy cold.”
Waters, 70, was in the hospital the same day that actress Carrie Fisher went into intensive care after suffering a massive heart attack from which she later died, and two days before British singer George Michael was found dead at 53.
Word of Waters’s hospitalization was first reported by the Baltimore Fishbowl website and spread quickly, with an article on Page Six of The New York Post and a photo spread complete with a five-minute video about kidney stones in The Daily Mail of London.
Waters seemed to have a premonition that something unusual might take place this Christmas during an interview last month on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” when the host asked him what he loves about Christmas.
“I love it’s so extreme,” Waters replied. “It’s extreme. It’s coming at you. You can’t change it. There’s nothing you can do about it.”