Review: I Am Divine
Director: Jeffrey Schwarz
Starring: Harris Glenn Milstead (as Divine, archive footage), Michael Musto, Mark Payne, Greg Gorman, Mink Stole, John Waters, Vincent Peranio, Frances Milstead, Diana Evans, Dennis Dermody, Pat Moran, Susan Lowe, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce & Alonso Duralde.
Rated 15, 90mins
Divine has always been an important figure in cross-dressing drag artistry and also in the LGBT+ community.
This documentary painted a picture of an icon. Harris Glenn Milstead, known better by his alter ego, Divine, created a storm in the 1970's and '80's. A larger-than-life character, his acting, singing and all-round persona still ring of flaming hilarity, sassy brutality and outrageous endeavours. Director John Waters may have discovered him, but Divine also became a star of the big screen and the club scene, and this resulted in smash hit films, sold-out appearances and even hit songs.
The troubled side to this was drink, drugs and an immensely unhealthy diet. At first glimpse of Divine, you might think he was wearing a fat suit, alas no. Milstead was, indeed, that overweight and this resulted in a fatal heart attack, prior to his invitation to feature on the sitcom Married with Children (a favourite show of mine during my childhood).
You get glimpses of a genuine guy, loved by most, hated by some. Few would argue that Divine pushed the boundaries, but he certainly helped in equality for gay people, drag artists, transgender people and so on. He is said to have hated wearing women's clothing, sometimes ripping it off his body after shows. Perhaps most drag artists have this love/hate feeling towards their attire? After all, they don't want to be women but rather just wear ladies' clothes for a little while. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that. ;)
I am Divine and so are you!
Chapter Arts Centre continues all things Divine this September with the Welcome to Dreamland: John Waters season. Featuring Hairspray (1988), Pink Flamingos, Polyester (with the original Odorama cards) and Female Trouble.
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