John Waters’ inimitable and outrageous muse gets the bio doc treatment by the filmmaker who’s already crafted the definitive portraits of porn star Jack Wrangler, activist Vito Russo, and filmmaker showman William Castle.
Jeffrey Schwarz adds another larger-than-life character to his already impressive list of film biographies with this portrait of Harris Glenn Milstead, better known as the one and only Divine. Through his outrageous collaborations with John Waters, the Baltimore native became heralded the world over as the queen of trash cinema and a symbol of proud non-conformity. The imposing Divine took drag to a new, confrontational, and almost surreal extreme, creating an unforgettable persona who was always the standout of Waters’ films until her untimely death in 1988. I AM DIVINE aims to capture Milstead’s – and Divine’s – lives through her work, rare archival footage, and interviews with those who knew the performer best.
Schwarz has less than two weeks left in an IndieGoGo campaign for post-production costs, so there’s still time to pledge if you’re so inclined. You may also keep up to date on developments with the film via its website.
There aren’t many celebrities who can really pull off the single name conceit – Divine could. More than two decades after her passing, her name still means something – at least if you ask those who sought out her work, feeling a kindred spirit in her attitude of putting it all out there, as off-center and against the mainstream as she was. Divine made you laugh with her, not at her, engendering a solidarity against the squares of the world, and finding strength in difference rather than shame. Her weapon was comedy, and of the trashiest kind, wearing down the viewer’s defenses through humor. As signaled by its subtitle, “THE TRUE STORY OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN THE WORLD,” Schwarz’s film promises to bring that same sense of arch humor to Divine’s life story as the icon brought to her roles. I’m very much looking forward to seeing this film.