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‘REAL ACTUAL FILTH!’: Finally some John Waters movies in high def
07:31 am


John Waters
Mink Stole

‘Multiple Maniacs’ poster on sale at Westgate Gallery
I wonder how many film snobs are out there who buy every single new Blu-Ray released by the Criterion Collection as a kind of Cliff Notes subscription to “Impeccable Taste in Cinema.” You know the type—if you suggest seeing a movie, they rush straight to Meta-Critic before committing to anything. I relish their reaction to Multiple Maniacs, John Waters’ self-described “celluloid atrocity,” a riveting, rancid, rollickingly funny B&W snapshot of everything we now cherish from his greatest work, of which MM absolutely must be included. It’s all here, all for the first time: corpulent diva Divine starring as a dominant, foul-mouthed, white-trash bitch goddess, narcissistic and deliciously cruel, yet oddly endearing and cloaked in charisma; the equally talented Mink Stole, creating the first of her many deeply disturbed fabulous underdog characters for Waters; Cookie Mueller (“a mean hippie who was recently released from a mental hospital”) and Edith Massey, (playing herself, a wacky barmaid at Dreamland Studios’ favorite dive, Pete’s Hotel); reams of overwrought, razor-sharp, quotable dialogue; vicious satire unleashed equally upon the Peace & Love generation and Nixon voters; striking jolts of surrealism which both pay homage to and parody experimental and art films; and plenty of scabrous, black-comedy shocks. It’s even better than amyl nitrate.

In Multiple Maniacs, the surreal and the shocking reach their mutual pinnacle in a jaw-dropping sequence in the second half of the movie:  Lady Divine’s mission of vengeance against her cheating boyfriend (David Lochary) and his brainless blonde chatterbox lover (Mary Vivian Pearce) is waylaid when a “religious whore” (Mink) lures Divine into a church to perform a rectal “rosary-job” accompanied by Divine’s orgasmic visions of the life of Jesus Christ (George Figgs), complete with miracles (the “fishes & loaves” here represented by canned cat food and Wonder Bread), Edie as the Virgin Mary and a positively Gibsonian crucifixion, all played for very queasy laughs, of course. 

‘Divine Saves the World’ stageplay/‘Multiple Maniacs’ poster from 1972

Historically the most difficult Waters film to see that’s actually worth seeing, Multiple Maniacs’ most successful cinematic run was as a pre-Pink Flamingos midnight show at San Francisco’s Palace Theatre circa 1971, where it became a deeply offensive sensation, often accompanied by live stage shows written and directed by Sebastian of The Cockettes, with titles like “The Heartbreak of Psoriasis” and “Divine Saves The World.”  Never blown up to 35mm when New Line Cinema began distributing it post-smash-Pink Flamingos, it got an “okay” VHS release in 1987, but never made it to DVD.  Anyone familiar with battered 16mm repertory prints or the shrill, tinny videotape may think they’re experiencing their own rosary-job hallucination—Multiple Maniacs looks amazing in HD (Waters himself remarked “Finally, Multiple Maniacs looks like a bad John Cassavetes film!”) and sounds even better. With one rather key caveat: due to music licensing rights- and cost issues, the entire brilliant, bootleg soundtrack of dozens of inspired songs from multiple decades has been replaced by a new score by composer George S. Clinton. Which is a truly tragic loss. This devil’s bargain does yield some choice extras: a Waters audio commentary, interviews with surviving cast and crew, and more.

Italian ‘Desperate Living’ poster
So as far as Golden Age John Waters in HD, this package is as good as it gets for now: Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble have yet to surface anywhere in HD, and while a gorgeous-looking HD Polyester is available for rental and purchase via Amazon Video, they used a version WITHOUT the flashing Odorama numbers… that stupidly retains the intro with “Dr Arnold Quackenshaw” explaining how to use the Odorama scratch ‘n’ sniff card (not hard to locate them even now if you try) which is essential to fully enjoying the film.  However, iTunes currently has Desperate Living in HD, so that could possibly mean a Criterion edition of this fucked-up masterpiece might be in the works. The sharp transfer brought tears to these perverted eyes—turns out it IS very pretty, what a town without pity can do.
More after the jump…

Posted by Christian McLaughlin | Leave a comment
Adorable Divine doll dressed as gun-toting ‘Babs Johnson’ from ‘Pink Flamingos’ (gun included!)

There are many days while I’m doing my “job” here at Dangerous Minds when I think I’ve pretty much seen it all. Then there are days that I stumble across something on the Internet that reminds me that there is still plenty of fantastic trash out there for all of us, specifically those of us who are connoisseurs of filth and all thing low brow. Which is exactly what I have for you today—a sixteen-inch doll in the image of John Waters’ greatest muse, the legendary Divine.

Made by My Best Fiendz based in Rockland, Maine, little Divine was made by a horror-movie-loving husband and wife duo who used a standard baby doll as the base then transformed it into a pretty spot-on “Babs Johnson” who looks like she’s dying to tell you to “eat shit” in full makeup, custom-dyed flaming-hot hair and a pistol. There are also a few other strange items in the Fiendz’s Etsy store that might also be of interest to our sleazier/horror-inclined readers such as a bizarre “jumpin’ jack” of GG Allin that would keep everyone (including dogs and rats mind you) off your lawn, an utterly fantastic jumper of Swedish pro-wrestler/actor Tor Johnson, and that nasty murderous clown “Captain Spaulding” aka “Johnny Lee Johns” as portrayed by actor Sid Haig in the films House of 1000 Corpsess and The Devil’s Rejects. The Divine doll will run you $130 and the wooden jumpers are about $40. I’ve posted images of the oddities below. If any of this is your thing (because filth really is your life), more details on ordering and other items in the shop can be found here.


More after the jump…

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Behold the wonders of ‘The Simply Divine Cut-Out Doll Book’
01:50 pm



Seventy-one years ago today, Harris Glenn Milstead was born at the (appropriately named?) Women’s Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Decades later, after a potent handful of John Waters movies and who knows how many disco singles, we celebrate perhaps the greatest diva the world has ever known—as Divine.

It’s amazing to think that Divine appeared in only thirteen movies in all those years. Thirteen! At least that’s how IMDb has it. I find that absolutely amazing. You could easily argue that on a per-minute basis, Divine had the biggest impact on audiences in movie history. Who would rate higher, Rob Reiner’s mother?

Much like Groucho Marx, Divine’s characters always had the best names, from Francine Fishpaw (Polyester) and Dawn Davenport (Female Trouble) to Babs Johnson (Pink Flamingos) and Edna Turnblad (Hairspray).

In 1983 Van Smith, who did make-up and costume design for most of Waters’ movies, released The Simply Divine Cut-Out Doll Book. Today it’s out of print, and is listed on Amazon for more than $300, although a typical asking price is closer to $125. However, you don’t need the book to soak in the bumptious appeal of Divine, we’ve got several pics from it right on this page.

More pics after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Divine joins Bettie Page on iconic Seattle mural
09:36 am


Bettie Page

I have to say this is one of the many times I’ve been proud to call my transplanted home of the last seventeen-years quite possibly the greatest place on earth. One of my favorite Seattle landmarks (which I drive by on nearly a daily basis) is a home with a giant mural of Bettie Page painted on it. She’s been joined by an equally humongous portrait of Divine all decked out in the famous red dress worn by the great Harris Glenn Milstead in 1972’s Pink Flamingos.

“FILTH IS MY LIFE!” The giant mural of Divine that now resides alongside Bettie Page on a house in Northeast Seattle.
The mural of a nearly two-story topless Bettie Page (whose naughty bits are obscured by the home’s rain gutters) has been visible from traffic on I-5 in Northeast Seattle for a decade. Then a few months ago some morons who just don’t get it vandalized the much loved mural with gray paint and even took the time to leave a nasty note on the home where the mural resides saying the following: 



The message was written entirely in capital letters so I guess the roving gang of confused “feminists” wanted to be sure they knew how angry they were. The good news is that the owner of the house, Jessica Baxter didn’t let the incident get under her skin. And even when donations came piling in so that Baxter didn’t have to take on the expense of having the mural (and her house, mind you) restored, she declined and instead asked that people wanting to donate send their money to RAINN (the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network). So why did Baxter pick Divine to keep Bettie Page company for the long foreseeable future? Here’s one of my favorite residents of Northeast Seattle on that:

Really it’s just people who inspire me and make me happy that they existed, and were individuals who didn’t give a shit what anyone else thought, and who were just themselves. I’m going to feel inspired every time I look at it.

The mural was just finished this past Tuesday by Two Thangs (aka Seattle artist Matthew Brennan IV) and it is nothing short of fucking glorious. Brennan, a self-professed John Waters devotee felt very strongly that the Page and Divine belonged together especially since the vandals who tried to ruin Bettie felt that the image was “exploitive.” According to Brennan (via Two Thangs FB page) the addition of Divine makes a clear statement about choice—specifically making a decision to present yourself “how you choose.” 

I love you Seattle. Never change.

The famous Bettie Page mural on the side of a house in Northeast Seattle. 
See the defaced Bettie Page mural—and the note left by ‘SOME FEMINISTS’ after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Cha-cha Vans: Custom-made Divine gym shoe
02:58 pm



“The filthiest gym shoe alive”! 

Divine on Facebook alerted me to these custom-made Divine Vans by Sink or Swim Custom Kicks! I visited the Sink or Swim Custom Kicks! website and couldn’t find any pricing information. If you’re interested, I’d reach out to them via their “contact” which is at the bottom of their homepage. I’d also message them on Facebook about ordering, pricing and shipping.

I wish I had more information, but I simply don’t. Interestingly, Divine’s look was created by Divine, John Waters and a fellow named Van Smith. Smith, who died in 2006, designed all the costumes and did the makeup for every John Waters film from 1972 to 2004. Vans need to do a Van Smith Vans tribute next.


Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
That time John Belushi and Divine played with the Dead Boys, 1978
09:15 am


John Belushi
Dead Boys

John Belushi’s connection to music, as far as most of the world is concerned, is his famous labor of love for R&B, the Blues Brothers. That album and film were exercises in rock-star wish fulfillment gone spectacularly right, and both remain justly exalted to this day. But Belushi was also an ardent supporter of the punk scene whose rise coincided with his heyday as a Saturday Night Live star.

Surely Belushi’s most famous expression of punk fandom was when he arranged for the notorious L.A. band Fear—reprobate contrarian dicks even by punk rock standards—to appear as SNL’s musical guest. Utter chaos ensued. The story’s been retold often, including on this very blog, so I won’t flog that dead horse here. But what’s less widely known, and really shouldn’t be, is that Belushi played drums with the Dead Boys at CBGB in 1978.

This was not a particularly happy event—Dead Boys drummer Johnny Blitz had been stabbed, almost fatally, and CBGB was holding a series of benefit concerts for his medical costs. Over 30 bands performed over the course of four days, and naturally the Dead Boys performed, with New York Dolls drummer Jerry Nolan filling in for the waylaid Blitz. But during the band’s signature song, “Sonic Reducer,” a song plundered from Blitz and guitarist Cheetah Chrome’s previous band, the Cleveland proto-punks Rocket From the Tombs, John Belushi played drums. And he did really well. Divine and the Neon Women—her dancers from her stage production The Neon Woman, which was running at the Hurrah Discotheque at the time—joined the band that night as well, as go-go dancers.

This pristine Arturo Vega shirt from the benefit sold on eBay for $749 in 2014.

Pat Ivers, who shot the footage below, related the story of that night to the New York Times a few years ago, and included the details of how Belushi came to be in the Dead Boys’ orbit:

Everyone from Blondie to Belushi showed up when we brought our camera down for the fourth and final night. But first, a few words about John Belushi. Four months earlier, at a party in the West Village, we met him and Dan Aykroyd while having a smoke on the balcony. We began needling them, because that weekend Saturday Night Live had booked the Sex Pistols (a gig that never happened: Elvis Costello ultimately performed instead). “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night? Where’s the New York bands; have you ever seen any play?” We invited them down to CBGBs that weekend. Belushi came, he saw, he fell in love with the Dead Boys. Billy Blitz [Johnny’s brother] remembered, “He used to call our house looking for my brother. My parents had no idea who he was, it killed me!” It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

The Blitz Benefit was everything that was best in the CBGB scene: it was wild, unpredictable and small-town in its own peculiar way. We remember Cheetah Chrome as MC, taking on a leadership role… he was the glue that held those nights together. And who could forget Kathy Kurls, friend of the band, who stripped to “Sonic Reducer” right down to her pasties. Among so many others, Syl Sylvain and Arthur Kane, formerly of the New York Dolls, performed with their bands, the Criminals and the Corpse Grinders. Jeff Magnum, Dead Boys bassist, recalled using different drummers every night to fill in for Johnny. “It was cool to play with [ex-Doll] Jerry Nolan – he was a great drummer and Belushi was a lot of fun. To the tons of our friends who played for the benefit, we are eternally grateful.”

After the jump, the video evidence!

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Awesome ‘Pink Flamingos,’ ‘Female Trouble’ and ‘Polyester’ nesting doll sets

Pink Flamingos
Man, how I LOVE this Pink Flamingos nesting doll set by BoBo Babushka. The details are impeccable and really well done. From what I understand, BoBo Babushka isn’t making this particular set currently, but since there’s been some interest on the Internet BoBo Babushka is considering retailing them again.

As for the Polyester and Female Trouble sets, it appears they are available. If you’re interested, you can ask about pricing here at BoBo Babushka’s website.


Female Trouble
via Divine on Facebook

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Leigh Bowery’s shock therapy: ‘When I’m dressed up I reach more people than a painting in a gallery’

The dictionary defines the word “legend” as:

1. a traditional story sometimes popularly regarded as historical but not authenticated.

2. an extremely famous or notorious person, especially in a particular field.

It would be fair to say this word fits rather snugly with the performance artist, designer, would-be pop star, icon, artist’s model and “work of art” Leigh Bowery.

When asked recently, “Who was Leigh Bowery?” I was briefly flummoxed as where to begin in any attempt to describe this wonderfully extravagant yet self-indulgent character. There were so many facets to his life—so many fictions, so many facts—it seemed rather unsporting to choose only one.

Leigh Bowery was born on March 26th, 1961, in the small working class suburb of Sunshine in Melbourne, Australia. He was was the eldest of two children born to Tom and Evelyn Bowery. His mother had lived her entire life in Sunshine and raised Leigh and his younger sister Bronwyn in a house opposite her own childhood home. Sunshine was that kind of community. People lived and died there—they knew their place and rarely ventured beyond its boundaries.

Leigh was a large beefy child with a head of golden curls. Because of his build, his father hoped Leigh would become an Australian rules football player or at the very least something sporty. Yet Leigh showed no inclination for such physical activities. He preferred gardening and later needlework—something he first learnt while convalescing in hospital after an operation to help his testicles descend.

At school he was a very bright pupil. He had a keen and enquiring mind, was constantly reading books and showed great aptitude for classical music—in particular playing the piano. His life changed after he won a scholarship to Melbourne High School.

Leigh later claimed that he had known he was gay from the age of twelve. During his time at Melbourne High, he began his sexual adventures. On his way home from school, Leigh cruised the public toilets at the central railway station. He discovered wearing a school uniform made him highly attractive to the older men.  By his own estimate—which may or may not be true—he claimed he had sex with about one thousand men before he left school.
His parents had hoped Leigh would study music at university. Instead, he chose to study fashion design at the Melbourne Institute of Technology. Leigh was one of only two boys in his year. He quickly learnt how to machine sew and began making some of his early flamboyant designs. These were not exactly appreciated by his teachers who wanted him to design ladies’ underwear and children’s clothes.

But Leigh had moved ahead of such small ambitions and wanted to create his own designs. He was eighteen and had fallen under the influence of punk—as he later explained in an interview.

The thing which made everything click for me was the punk movement where people used themselves and their appearance to describe so much and I just loved Busby Berkeley movies—all those sequins and feathers—and I would always have my nose in a National Geographic, gazing at women with stretched necks and rings going in strange places.

Leigh was also very enamored with the club scene in London, which he read about in all the imported pop and fashion magazines he got his hands on.

I wanted to hang out with the art and fashion people. I wanted to go to nightclubs and look at the clothes in the shops. I loved the idea of punk and the New Romantics. England seemed the only place to go, I considered New York but that just seemed full of cheap copies of London. I don’t think I made a mistake.

He quit college and worked in a department store to raise the funds for the London move. When he arrived in the city of his dreams, Leigh lived with a friend. When this friend moved out, Leigh decided to change his life and become more involved with the city around him. According to his friend and biographer Sue Tilley, Leigh made a list of four resolutions on New Year’s Eve 1980:

1) Get his weight down to twelve stone.
2) Learn as much as possible.
3) Establish himself in either fashion, art or writing.
4) Wear make-up every day.

Leigh managed to meet three of these resolutions over the next decade.

Read more about Leigh Bowery, plus a documentary about him hosted by Hugh Laurie, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Wickedly-fun photos of Grace Jones’ 30th birthday bash, 1978

Grace Jones with Jimmy Baio, Divine, Julie Budd, Nona Hendryx and a few unnamed dancers

In the ‘70s and ‘80s we all had our fun, and now and then we went really too far. But, ultimately, it required a certain amount of clear thinking, a lot of hard work and good make-up to be accepted as a freak.—Grace Jones

If a single photo series could encapsulate ‘70s disco dust debauchery and fun… this document of Grace Jones’ 30th birthday party held at LaFarfelle Disco in New York on June 12, 1978 would be IT. Famous guests included Elton John, Divine, Andy Warhol, Jerry Hall, Jimmy Baio (Scott Baio’s cousin, of course), Julie Budd and Nona Hendryx.

To have been a fly on the wall for this birthday party. Can you imagine all the shit people were up to when the cameras weren’t flashing?!



Elton John, Andy Warhol and Jerry Hall

More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Divine and friends action figures from John Waters’ ‘Female Trouble’

“Mr. Wineberger, Dawn Davenport is eating a meatball sandwich right out in CLAESS!”
Divine’s official social media guru directed my attention, yesterday, to the work of sculptor Tyson Tabbert, who recently created a batch of “action figures” for John Waters’ masterpiece Female Trouble.

In Female Trouble, perhaps Waters’ best film, Divine plays Dawn Davenport, career criminal and fame seeker. An addiction to injected liquid eyeliner sends her on a berserk crime spree, ending in art/murder. In one of its most famous scenes, Dawn destroys the family Christmas when she doesn’t receive the gift of “cha cha heels” she is expecting. “Nice girls,” it turns out, “don’t wear cha cha heels.”

Tabbert has created an entire playset devoted to this iconic cinematic scene.

Unfortunately, according to Tabbert’s Instagram, the figures are not for sale. But maybe if enough people beg him? I know I’d throw down for the “Female Trouble Christmas Morning Playset.” It would have a place of honor every year, right next to the Nativity and Christmas shit log.


More after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
A sackful of holiday greetings from Divine, Edie the Egglady & Miss Jean Hill (NSFW)

Here are the grand goddesses of John Waters’ Dreamland repertory company, Divine, Edith Massey, and Jean Hill, making spirits bright for the holidays in this collection of pin-up photos.

Though all three performers have sadly left this planet (Divine in 1988, Edie in 1984, and Jean Hill in 2013), their beauty and glamour lives on.

The majority of these photos were taken for novelty Christmas cards in the ‘80s—the sort you would have found at a Spencer’s Gifts back in the day.



More after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
The art of ‘EWWW’: Artwork created using bacteria as its medium
12:21 pm


pop art

“Superheroes” bacteria art made with Streptomycetes (bacteria spores that live in the dirt)
All “ewww’s” aside, I must say that the first (and I’m sure not the last) “Agar Art” contest held by The American Society for Microbiology (whose guidelines specified that entrants create art using only bacteria), has yielded some incredible results.
NYC Biome Map made with bacteria
A segment of the massive “NYC Biome Map” made with bacterial microbes (by microbiologist, Christine Marizzi)
According to the rules, all creations must be made using only microbes instead of paint (or other materials) and agar as their canvas. There were 85 entries submitted by various microbiologists across the country for this art meets biology mashup. Of the ones I’ve seen so far, I was blown away (and a bit grossed out I must admit) by the NYC Biome Map submitted by Christine Marizzi of New York City’s Community Biolab (above). Just read the description of the piece and you’ll likely feel the same way:

Microorganisms reside everywhere, yet they are too small to be seen with the human eye. New York City is a melting pot of cultures - both human and microbial - and every citizen has a personalized microbiome. Collectively, we shape NYC’s microbiome by our lifestyle choices, and this unseen microbial world significantly impacts us

I say grossed out because probably like many of you, I’ve ridden the NY subway system (as well as the equally skanky Boston “T”) hundreds of times before and learned pretty quickly to never touch ANYTHING with your hands. That said, Marizzi’s piece is nothing short of a marvel to look at considering how it was created.
Divine Pop Art made with bacteria
Pop bacteria art in the image of Divine!
More strange and trippy looking biological pieces of art from the contest (that might also bring out the obsessive/compulsive hand-washer in you) can be seen after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Velvet paintings of Divine, Die Antwoord, Lou Reed and others (& I want them ALL!)

Die Antwoord velvet painting
Die Antwoord velvet painting
Today I have pulled together a post that features a pretty solid collection of highly desirable velvet paintings from a cast of characters that runs the gamut from pop culture phenoms such as Weekly World News cave-dwelling poster child, Bat Boy, to the bad-ass South African duo, Die Antwoord. How’s that sound to ya’?
Divine black velvet painting
Divine (as Babs Johnson in Pink Flamingos)
Most of the paintings I’ve featured can be had for a couple of hundred bucks or so. Could there possibly be anything cooler than a slightly inception-esque velvet painting of the Velvet Underground’s Lou Reed by artist Diane Bombshelter? Probably not. But I’ll let you dear DM readers be the judge of that.

If while scrolling through this post you find the next thing you never knew you couldn’t live without, most (with the exception of Lou Reed and Morrissey) can be obtained by way of Ebay or Etsy.
Lou Reed black velvet painting by Diane Bombshelter
Lou Reed black velvet painting by Diane Bombshelter
Bat Boy velvet painting
Bat Boy
Robin Williams velvet painting
Robin Williams (RIP) as Mork (from the TV series Mork & Mindy)
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
American Gothic version of Divine and John Waters

There’s really not much to say about this fantastic painting of Divine and John Waters taking the place of the old prairie couple in Grant Wood’s iconic 1930 painting “American Gothic.” I simply dig it.

I had a hard time tracking down the artist as I misread the signature as GG Allin. To be honest for a few moments there I actually thought the late shit-hurling hate rocker painted this. The artisit’s name is spelled GIGI ALLIN and here are links to her Instagram and website.

The work in progress via Instagram
Via Divine on Facebook

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Insanely adorable amigurumi of Divine and John Waters
02:43 pm

Pop Culture

John Waters

Pope of Trash John Waters and Divine (“the filthiest person alive”) couldn’t look anymore adorable as amigurumi by knitting maven Captain Howdee. I just want to squish the hell out of these dolls ‘cause they’re so damned cute.

These were posted on Captain Howdee’s Flicker page back in 2007. I not sure if they’re for sale, but oh my gawd do I wish they were! I’d like to see an Edith Massey amigurumi. Imagine what that would look like! Why not a David Lochary doll, too?

via Divine on Facebook

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘The Filthiest Person Alive’: Divine profiled on ‘Night Flight,’ 1986
The Divine (and very young) Miss M: Bette Midler performing at the Continental Baths, early 70s
Paintings of Divine, Apu, Amy Winehouse, Princess Leia and more, using old coins as a canvas

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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