Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

'I Am Divine' Director Jeffrey Schwarz On The Legend Of His Muse

By Jeffrey Schwarz | Indiewire October 25, 2013 at 9:27AM

Before the video revolution of the 1980s, it was damn near impossible for a suburban kid like myself to see the kinds of movies I read about in Danny Peary’s Cult Movies book. One of the titles Peary wrote about was "Pink Flamingos," a movie so demented, depraved and disgusting I became obsessed with finding out everything I could about the people who made it.Even before seeing any of his films, John Waters became my personal god, and I devoured his autobiographical books "Shock Value" and "Crackpot." I was still a closeted teenager with no tangible connections to gay culture, so John’s sensibility helped to lead me down a path of embracing my own difference. John’s relationship with his leading lady Divine was also inspiring. Their friendship and artistic collaboration gave me hope that I might someday find like-minded people and be able to express my true nature like they did.
0
"I Am Divine"

Before the video revolution of the 1980s, it was damn near impossible for a suburban kid like myself to see the kinds of movies I read about in Danny Peary’s Cult Movies book. One of the titles Peary wrote about was "Pink Flamingos," a movie so demented, depraved and disgusting I became obsessed with finding out everything I could about the people who made it.

Even before seeing any of his films, John Waters became my personal god, and I devoured his autobiographical books "Shock Value" and "Crackpot." I was still a closeted teenager with no tangible connections to gay culture, so John’s sensibility helped to lead me down a path of embracing my own difference. John’s relationship with his leading lady Divine was also inspiring. Their friendship and artistic collaboration gave me hope that I might someday find like-minded people and be able to express my true nature like they did.

Will You See This Movie? | John Waters's Muse Divine Gets the Doc Treatment
Sue Lowe, Mink Stole, and Jeffrey Schwarz in Baltimore while doing interviews for "I Am Divine."

In 1988, I was in my first year of college and finally getting to see all of Divine and John Waters’ movies. Each film was more jaw-dropping than the next and Divine’s performances were fearless and courageous. Just after the release of "Hairspray," John and Divine’s breakthrough success, I opened the newspaper and saw that Divine had died. It seemed so cruel and unfair that after receiving the best reviews of his career and on the verge of mainstream acceptance, he wouldn’t be able to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

Years later, I had the pleasure of collaborating with John Waters when he appeared in my film "Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story." In 2007, I produced "You Can’t Stop the Beat: The Long Journey of Hairspray" for the DVD of the 2007 remake, which featured a section about the original film. Getting to meet all of John’s collaborators on Hairspray gave me the idea to mount a tribute to Divine that would deepen our appreciation for this iconic performer and ensure his legacy for a new generation. A documentary could honor Divine in just the way he always craved - as a serious artist and immortal star.

Like the John Waters protagonists he portrayed in numerous films, Divine was the ultimate outsider. Spitting in the face of the status quos of body image, gender identity, sexuality, and preconceived notions of beauty, Divine still succeeded in becoming an internationally recognized recording artist and screen icon. He gives courage to anyone who’s ever been mocked, ridiculed, and ostracized, and gives us all hope that anything’s possible.

His story is about fame. It’s about the quest for the spotlight and artistic respect. And in the end, it’s a story of a man estranged from his family and their beautiful reunion. It’s also the ultimate “it gets better” story about a bullied fat kid who had the last laugh on his tormentors. With this regard for Divine’s emotional complexities comes "I Am Divine," which will celebrate the Most Beautiful Woman in the World’s life and art.

"I Am Divine" kicks off its 17 city theatrical run in New York City today. For information on where and when to see it, click here.


This article is related to: Queer Cinema, LGBT, I Am Divine, Documentary, First Person






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More