Peaches Christcelebrates John Waters

  • by David-Elijah Nahmod
  • Tuesday May 6, 2014
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Has it really been 20 years since John Waters' Serial Mom opened in theaters? The film, one of Waters' best from his post-Divine period, will screen at the beautiful Castro Theatre on Saturday, May 10. Peaches Christ, San Francisco's scariest drag queen, will serve as the evening's hostess and perform in a Serial Mom -inspired stage show. Talk-show queen Ricki Lake, who co-stars in the film, will appear live on the giant Castro stage.

Yes, Peaches Christ is indeed larger than life. She makes for a frightening visage. But don't be too frightened. Joshua Grannell, Peaches' alter-ego, is actually a kind, gentle soul. The lifelong B-movie buff spoke to the B.A.R. about his life, his career, and both of his personas.

D'Arcy Drollinger will appear at the Castro Theatre. Photo: Jose Guzman Colon

David-Elijah Nahmod: Please tell us who you are, and who Peaches is.

Joshua Grannell: Peaches was born in my senior-thesis film, Jizmopper: A Love Story. I was studying film production at Penn State U., and the actor we hired to play the drag queen in the film I was directing didn't pull through for us, so Peaches was born and stepped in to play the part. My advice to first-time drag performers is always: "Try not to put your first-time drag on 16mm film or in a movie so that people can discover it forever." As Joshua, I'm definitely more of the behind-the-scenes writer/director, but as Peaches I get to be outrageous. It's kind of like using your own drag as a type of muse, I guess.

You have an obvious love of cult and underground cinema. What draws you to this? How has this affected your film All About Evil?

I've always been super-inspired by movies, and so much of what I do with drag is informed by my love affair with cinema. I'm also inspired by "underdogs," the "others" of this world. I like to think that Peaches Christ leads a cult of devoted followers who worship the cult movies we all love. It's my job to create events that celebrate these movies, and I borrow lots of ideas from other cults like the Catholic Church. I think for us, the cinema is our church, and we earnestly believe in these characters. We are the nerds, freaks and weirdos with a wicked, fierce sense of humor. We're the Dawn Wieners who grew up to become the Dawn Davenports. Both Dawns are saints to us.

All About Evil is the thing right now I'm proudest of, because it represented a lifelong dream. I wrote, directed, produced and performed in it as a known drag queen, which, as you can imagine, is rare in the world of indie or horror film-making. I always wanted to make a feature film, and it was an homage to so many things I loved as a kid growing up inspired by Fangoria magazine, Herschel Gordon Lewis, John Waters, Doris Wishman, Vincent Price, Elvira, and more. While I was making it, I was really terrified that it wouldn't turn out the way I intended it, or that it wasn't going to be something I could be proud of. But I am proud of it, and I'm really thrilled to hear from fans who discover it on TV or DVD.

What do John Waters, Serial Mom, and Ricki Lake mean to you?

John Waters is my ultimate idol, hero and mentor. I grew up in Maryland, so discovering him, Divine and Mink Stole really did change my life. I don't think there would be a Peaches Christ if there weren't the Dreamlanders (the John Waters stock company). And in the post-Polyester era of the John Waters universe, I think that Ricki Lake is the ultimate Dreamlander, the screen-child of Divine. I'm completely thrilled that she accepted our invitation to come and be celebrated at this 20th anniversary of Serial Mom. She is a bona-fide pop-culture icon, and we are planning on worshiping at her altar on May 10. 

Any spoilers for the Serial Mom stage show you could share?

D'Arcy Drollinger will appear in a performance we're calling Serial Queen, and she doesn't appreciate drag boogers. So please be sure that your drag is put together and that you're not wearing white shoes before Memorial Day, or else!

Will Ricki do a Q&A or signing?

Yes, both!


Peaches Christ: A 20th Anniversary Serial Mom Tribute with Ricki Lake in person, Sat., May 10 at 8 p.m., Castro Theatre, 424 Castro St., SF. Info: