There is heavy promotion for the new Hairspray remake film with John Travolta, but it only makes me wish transvestite Divine was still around. Ah yes, the incomparable and unforgettable Divine! Glen Milstead was his real name, and John Waters had the brilliant eye to use him lots in his early twisted movies like Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, and Polyester. Apparently, John and Glen went to high school together back in Baltimore, Maryland and soon after their degenerate and hilariously revolting collaborations began.
If you've never seen some of John Water's classic 70s films, you owe yourself a look at some fine work with absolutely no social value, other than to disgust and make ya laugh your head off. It was Divine's overly dramatic deliveries and a competent ridiculous regular cast (including Mink Stole and the enormously hilarious Edith Massey) that made these films so fun; the epitome of white trash indeed! Pink Flamingos gets all the glory for showing Divine eating doggy poo in the final scene, but I wholeheartedly believe Female Trouble is the better film; funnier and more twisted than can possibly be imagined. These films can still shock today; they received an X rating back then and were even banned in certain countries. John Waters went very mainstream in the 1980s and his films since then have not had the same grotesque impact as his early work; by the time he directed the original Hairspray, Waters was pretty tame.
Sadly, drag queen Divine died at the young age of 42, due to being overweight. He was fortunate though to die in his sleep--as a result of sleep apnea and heart failure. But the legacy of his work, as preposterously tasteless as it is, still remains highly comedic. There is no doubt that Divine was a terrific comedic performer, and I defy anyone to watch one of his films and not roar out a good one.
It'll be interesting to see what Travolta does with the role Divine played some 19 years ago.