The story goes that John Waters asked Divine if she would eat dogshit on camera for his new film Pink Flamingos. Brushing it off as just another of the director’s increasingly crackpot ideas, Divine shooed him away and said, “Yes, yes, whatever…” Fast-forward to the end of the shoot, and it’s time for the big scene. Once Divine discovers that Waters was indeed serious about his request, she readies herself for the grand finale.
The scene took a long time to film, because the dog they crew had sequestered to “perform” for them was a little shy. The owner returned home to feed it up, and even gave it some doggie laxatives in order to, ahem, force the issue. But there was nothing doing. Eventually, after a long old wait in the streets, with Divine dressed to the nines and in full makeup, magic time finally arrived. The cameras were rolling and the rest, as they say, is history.
It’s sad to say that Pink Flamingos is still something of a film maudit in the UK due to our restrictive censorship laws. Over the years, certain sequences have been approved, but never to the point where a citizen of these fair isles could walk into a cinema with the freedom to see the full, unexpurgated film in all its gaudy glory. With the 50th anniversary Criterion Blu-ray release on its way, we decided that now would be the perfect time to return to the scene of the crime and look back at this masterpiece of sicko cinema.
So, with this issue, we’ve wiped the matted chicken feathers from our eyes, warmed up a rump steak in our undies and boiled up a whole mess of eggs to celebrate a film of boundless creative energy and wicked humour, and that’s also a paragon of that very fragile human urge to just have fun while you’re young and test the limits of your personal experience.
On the cover
We’ve ushered in Bristol-based Rosie Lea Brind to riff on the iconography of Flamingos-era Divine, with a bold, colourful portrait that harks back to ’70s handmade screen prints.
In this issue
Lead Review: Pink Flamingos
On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, Aimee Knight praises John Waters’ transcendent trash opus.
The Gospel According to St John
Juan Barquin enters into a lewd discourse with Baltimore’s finest, John Waters.
John Walters: An Oeuvre
A spry dash through the Pope of Trash’s gross cinematic output.
The Dreamlanders: A Who’s Who
Charles Bramsco offers an index of John Waters’ regular collaborators.
The Divine Right of Queens
Lillian Crawford unpicks the representational evolution of the late drag icon Divine.
What a Swizz!
Is Pink Flamingos a muck-smeared one-off? Or is it a template for more middle-brow auteurs? Soma Ghosh investigates.
A World of Filth
Kat McLaughlin is MC and organiser for a world championships of sicko filmmakers.
The Little Blockbusters That Could: A Dossier
Five essays on weird movies from across the globe that have struck box office gold against all the odds.
Threads #21: Blue Eye Shadow
Christina Newland explores how Divine’s makeup style influenced a generation of strong screen women.
In the back section
Essay: Raising the Dead
Marina Ashioti meets filmmaker Charlie Shackleton to explore the broad and poetic implications of his conceptual 35mm feature film, The Afterlight.
David Jenkins speaks to the French Bergman Island writer/director about the sublime intricacies of the creative process.
Hannah Strong meets the director of Pleasure, an glassy-eyed and provocative exploration of the modern porn industry.
Steph Green meets the star of tomorrow today – who’s currently headlining Good Luck To You, Leo Grande.
The iconic German-born bit-parter finally gets a lead in Swan Song, and Anna Bogutskaya speaks to him.
Ella Kemp chats to the maximalist-and-proud Australian auteur who’s new film, Elvis, is a biopic of The King himself.
Mia Hansen-Løve’s Bergman Island
Ed Perkins’ The Princess
Wawrick Ross and Robert Coe’s Blind Ambition
Ninja Thyberg’s Pleasure
Jacqueline Lentzou’s Moon, 66 Questions
François Ozon’s Everything Went Fine
Martin Bourboulon’s Eiffel
Michelangelo Frammartino’s Il Buco
Jessica Beshir’s Faya Dayi
Pietro Marcello, Alice Rohrwacher and Francesco Munzi’s Futura
Jonas Carpignano’s A Chiara
Jim Archer’s Brian and Charles
Todd Stephens’ Swan Song
Damien Odoul’s Theo and the Metamorphosis
Justin Kurzel’s Nitram
Lucile Hadžihalilović’s Earwig
Baz Lurhmann’s Elvis
Panah Panahi’s Hit the Road
Sophie Hyde’s Good Luck to You, Leo Grande
Plus, Matt Turner selects six key home ents releases for your consideration. And Hannah Strong sends a postcard from the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, highlighting some of her favourite titles and musing on the messy subjectivity of taste.
Published 22 Jun 2022