“Divine was the burlesque of John”
After premièring in the US at South by Southwest in 2013, I Am Divine finally hits the UK shores. It tells the story of how drag artiste Divine, aka Harris Glen Milstead, became John Waters’ cinematic muse and an international drag icon.
I Am Divine is a definitive biographical portrait of Divine, best known as the drag queen that ate dog poo in Pink Flamingo’s. The documentary honours Divine in just the way he always craved — as a serious artist and immortal star. Unfortunately, he died days before shooting began for Married with Children, where Divine was finally due to be taken seriously as an actor.
Divine’s entire life story is told, from his early days as a misfit youth bullied in Baltimore through to his rise to infamy as a cult superstar. Like the characters he portrayed in numerous films, Divine was the ultimate outsider. He transformed himself from a schoolyard fat kid to a larger-than-life personality and underdog royalty as his alter-ego Divine. Divine stood up for millions of gay men and women, female impersonators, punk rockers, the ample figured, and countless other socially ostracised people.
As outrageous and fun as its subject, I Am Divine combines movie clips, rare home movies and photos, television appearances and live performance footage with interviews with John Waters, Ricki Lake, Mink Stole, Tab Hunter, Holly Woodlawn, Michael Musto, Bruce Vilanch, mother Frances Milstead (who provided her final interview just months before she passed away), and many more of Divine’s family, friends, colleagues, and devotees.
It tells a frank account of Divine’s addictive and excessive personality including men and drugs. The film reveals Divine had no problems with men, and that in fact he had one in every port, and even had a relationship with porn star, Leo Ford. Additionally it is revealed that Divine had a crush on fellow screen star Tab Hunter, and got to kiss him in Polyester, before starring alongside him in Lust in the Dust.
Overall Verdict: A definitive look at a true cult figure. Well worth watching, especially if you love Divine!
Reviewer: Matt Peake