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"I Am Divine" Review

If they've even heard of Divine, most people's knowledge of gonzo trash cult filmmaker John Waters' longtime collaborator/muse is probably limited to this: "That's the fat drag queen who ate dog poop in that movie." While that's absolutely correct (I will probably watch Schindler's List before Pink Flamingos), there's a whole lot more to the fascinating and ultimately tragically short life of one Harris Glenn Milstead as told by the expansive documentary, I Am Divine.

With the prominence of gay and transgender/crossdressing performers like RuPaul common in the media today, it's hard to imagine the late-Sixties/early-Seventies' reaction to Divine and frankly, compared to what passes for "transgressive" today (e.g. oooooh, Miley Cyrus twerked), the antics and work of Waters and his band of misfit misfits are still pretty terrifying. But behind the shock were a group of people orbiting a sweet man named Glenn, whose ravenous appetites were his undoing, who were just doing their thing because why not.

With plenty of clips from Waters' films and Divine's stage and concert performances (she was a big - no pun - disco star in the Eighties, like a scary fat Dead Or Alive) and interviews with his mother, Waters and many of the performers and crew from the films, we get a feeling for Divine's life, though the seeds of his ultimate demise are clearly planted. Face it, he was eating for a reason and it finally killed him the night before he was to start work on Married With Children in a male role. It's sad that no one was able to stop him from putting himself in an early grave because he was clearly transitioning into a new and potentially interesting phase of his career.

Score: 8/10. Catch it on cable. (Netflix has it.)


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