“Just because you got them big udders don’t make you something special.” So says Earl Peterson (DIVINE, born Harris Glenn Milstead, 1945-88) to Dawn Davenport (Divine, again) in two of her greatest roles. And Earl was right — the udders were almost beside the point. That is, Divine had about as much in common with other drag queens as Ernie Kovaks had with other variety show hosts. Divine did not impersonate weary cocktail singers or randy housewives, or any females you’d meet outside of a John Waters movie. Her characters in Multiple Maniacs, Pink Flamingos, and Female Trouble, to name three great early Waters films, didn’t have attitude or sass: they ate dog turds and sprayed bullets into crowds and rubbed their privates with dead fish, all the while maintaining a pitch of glee that veered dangerously close to hyperventilation. And at the very moment when the mainstream threatened to swallow her up, a week after the premier of her crossover performance in Hairspray, she succumbed to the weight of her abnormally large heart.
On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: | Karl Wallinger |
READ MORE about members of the Blank Generation (1944-53).