The Wolfe Video documentary "I Am Divine," which appropriately is being released on Video on Demand on April 1, 2014 and on DVD a week later, about the titular mother of all drag queens provides more information and entertainment than a John Waters fan could hope for from this filthy world.
The numerous festival accolades for this uber-awesome production include the Best Documentary awards at the Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival and the Arizona Underground Film Festival. International honors include the Audience Awards at festivals in New Zealand and Spain.
The following trailer, courtesy of YouTube, of the trailer for "Divine" shows that those awards are well earned.
The fact that a proverbial cast of 1,000s participates in this project to share personal memories of Divine, ne Harris Glenn Milstead, or to discuss her story and/or tremendous impact on pop culture with deep love and admiration says a great deal about this unabashedly white trash persona who makes "domestic goddess" Roseanne look like June Cleaver at the top of her game. One cannot imagine Ms. Barr Arnold etc eating dog poop for her art.
It is especially nice to see Milstead's sweet little old working-class mom from Baltimore talk so lovingly about a doctor telling her that young Glenn has more feminine traits than masculine ones. Other segments in which this mother of the year discusses how she discovers the manner in which her adult son makes a living and how that knowledge alters their relationship are also strong elements of this documentary that achieves the ideal objectives of informing and entertaining.
An interview with Milstead's high school girlfriend is also amusing and consistent with a flamboyantly gay teen in the late '50s and early '60s recognizing a need to keep up (false) appearances.
Waters and household names from the Waters universe, including Mink Stole, provide awesome insight into how Milstead becomes Divine in both senses of the world. Joining that group, and indulging in the associated heavy drug use and free-spirited antics, seem to have been the best thing that could have happened to Milstead. It is also cool to picture the Waters and Milstead families interacting and perhaps expressing concern about their boys.
The insights of this group include the story behind Divine's punk look of a ginormous forehead, absurdly arched eyebrows, and "mile-high" eye makeup. Waters further shares a literally fall-on-the-floor funny parody of the JFK assassination that has a pre-Divine Milstead playing Jackie O. Waters gleefully acknowledges that making that short film in 1965 was "too soon."
Other clips include Divine's greatest moments from her classic Waters films. These consist of "Pink Flamingos," "Polyester," "Female Trouble," "Lust in the Dust," and the original "Hairspray." Clips of Divine's stage plays, concerts, and other live performances are icing on the Twinkie.
The biggest and best surprise of "Divine" is having the still dreamy former matinee idol Tab Hunter, who co-stars with our heroine in "Lust in the Dust" and "Polyester," discuss his experiences regarding those films. His recalling Waters telling him about his role requiring kissing a 300-lb drag queen is the textbook definition of priceless.
Viewers who share Milstead's childhood crush on Hunter can relate to the Divine Mr. H. discussing the former sharing that tidbit with him. This ALMOST makes the audience forget about a clip of a shirtless Hunter in a razor commercial from early in his career. It is almost guaranteed that this segment will prompt even the straightest man to experience thoughts that he could never imagine entering his head.
It is equally nice to see how Milstead embraces his alter ego for so many years and finds a true family through her. We additionally share his joy at achieving a desired form of success through always doing it his way.
At the risk of being slapped with a dead mackerel, candor requires not having watched the deleted scenes that are a special feature on the DVD. Other extras include commentary by Mink Stole and others.
Deep respect and regard for Divine and Waters requires ending this review of this homage to the former with a personal anecdote related to viewing the review copy of "Divine." My highly significant other and I watched it on a Saturday night and attended a service at a 230 year-old New England Episcopal church the next morning.
In relaying a story about Jesus, the minister asserted in the voice of said savior "I am Divine." My Honey Boo Boo and I, who of course were sitting in the very last row, exchanged huge grins.
I augmented my reaction with thoughts of Divine shooting up from a back-row seat, shouting "NO, I AM DIVINE," planting a big wet one on the lips of the proverbial little old church lady in the front row, flipping off the congregation, and proudly strutting out. Not many performers inspire that depth of thought.
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