2 mins


I wanted to be famous ... I wanted to be DIVINE".

Harris Glenn Milstead became both when he started making very off beat, acid head movies in the late sixties and early seventies with John Waters and friends.

His death (in his sleep) in Los Angeles on March 8th at the age of 42 closes a unique chapter in vulgar and trashy entertainment.

Divine worked very hard over the years in maintaining his disgusting image.

On stage, all 134 kgs of his revolting figure were usually restrained in the tightest lurex/polyester number imaginable as he skillfully exploited his audience's retiscence/embarrassment of certain taboo subjects - inevitably sexual at that.

He plumbed the depths of bad taste when in "Cocaine Fiends" he was raped by a giant lobster having only minutes beforehand devoured his boyfriend's cock. Chopped it right off with a knife, he did and hardly protested as the 3 metre long lobster, large and shiny red, got up on him.

In "Pink Flamingoes" he stooped, in every sense of the word, to eat dog shit from a pavement-passing poodle.

Such was his stage persona. He once said "I see myself more as a clown” ... I'm not a threat to women. I'm not trying to be a woman only look like a woman ... It's just that people get off on me as a female clown".

Divine didn't continue the clowning off stage and many people found the transfer to white-haired, slightly balding (great for the wigs) middle-aged man quite astonishing.

In the '80's DIVINE got into singing in a big way and brought his tongue-in-cheek nastiness to a new generation of boys and girls who helped many of his records get to best selling gold status.

For someone who couldn't sing, "my voice is horrible but luckily they have machines that can make even me sound good", the production and mixing talents of Bobby O (he of the Pet Shop Boys' classics) helped immortalise on vinyl such songs as "LoveReaction, "Native Love", "Jungle Jezebel" and "Shake it up".

In recent years Divine capitalised on his chart success with "You think you're a Man (But you're only a Boy) "- a very camp yet ideologically sound ditty - and "Walk like a Man."

Such was his cult stature the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York, exhibited this wild creation as one of the US' outstanding comedy classical traditions. A far cry from Divine's early days as a trash exponent in Baltimore, Maryland. As he once said himself: "When I first started in America everyone was screaming because I wore a dress on film ... Can you imagine? With all the shit happening at that time they worry about me in a dress ..."

This article appears in Issue 2

Go to Page View
Previous Article Next Article
Issue 2
Page 9