Divine wouldn’t have lasted a single episode on RuPaul’s Drag Race—the 1970s and ’80s drag icon was vulgar, intentionally unattractive and, well, ate dog poop. But she nonetheless paved the way for many queens to come and is a seminal figure in LGBT entertainment history. A muse to John Waters and star of such seminal queer flicks as Pink Flamingos and Hairspray, Divine (born Glenn Milstead) came from meager beginnings but brought drag to the mainstream in a way no on had before.
I Am Divine, a new documentary from Jeffrey Schwarz (Vito), explores Divine’s origins and evolution, from Waters’ midnight movies and a raunchy cabaret act to chart-topping disco songs and friendships with art stars like Andy Warhol and David Hockney. Divine was even the inspiration for The Little Mermaid‘s Ursula the Sea Witch.
Hmm, maybe she would’ve done well on Drag Race after all.
NewNowNext sat down with Schwarz to talk about the Filthiest Person Alive, whether anyone is carrying her mantle today, the current state of drag and more. Says the director, “[Divine] grew up wanting to be a movie star, wanting to be Elizabeth Taylor, and all his dreams actually did come true.”
Watch our interview with Schwarz above, and peep the trailer for I Am Divine below.