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I Am Divine

  • Documentary
  • 2013
  • Jeffrey Schwarz
  • 89 mins
  • 15

Summary

Documentary exploring the life of the famous drag queen, from troubled youth to cult icon. The film examines the development of his larger-than-life public persona through his lifelong collaboration with film-maker John Waters, as well as his foray into disco singing and desire to pursue a career as a dramatic actor. Featuring contributions by friends and family, including Waters and Hairspray co-star Ricki Lake.

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Review

A star rating of 3 out of 5.

Aficionados of the films of John Waters will need no introduction to his muse Divine, a 300-pound drag queen who, among other startling style choices, shaved his hairline absurdly high because, as Waters explains in Jeffrey Schwarz's affectionate documentary, "there wasn't enough space on the human head for the amount of eye make-up he wanted to wear". Born in conservative 1940s Baltimore, Harris Glenn Milstead struggled with both his weight and bullies before meeting Waters, conjuring up Divine, and starring in the Pope of Trash's early underground films such as Female Trouble and Pink Flamingos (in which he notoriously ate dog faeces). Schwarz interviews friends and fans, piecing together a picture of a gentle, perhaps surprisingly shy man who channelled his family's rejection and his anger at society into his outrageous alter-ego. He eventually felt trapped by his creation but was on the cusp of attaining mainstream recognition after Waters's surprise 1988 hit Hairspray landed him a role in a popular TV sitcom. Tragically, he died of a heart attack the day before filming.

How to watch

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Credits

Cast

rolename
DivineDivine
John WatersJohn Waters (2)
Ricki LakeRicki Lake
Tab HunterTab Hunter
Mink StoleMink Stole

Crew

rolename
DirectorJeffrey Schwarz

Details

Theatrical distributor
Peccadillo Pictures
Released on
2014-07-18
Guidance
Swearing, drug abuse
Available on
DVD
Formats
Colour
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