From John Waters’ first collection of essays I gather that his band of hostile, disenfranchised, transgressive actors was culled from the delinquent friends he partied with as a teenager. And party they did, breaking into houses and liquor cabinets, committing vandalism and raising hell. In his brilliance at making strychnine from lemonade, Waters engaged these non-actors in a series of beyond low budget, trashy, gleefully disgusting, yet perversely funny films. From the late 60’s to early 70’s he released such debauchery as: Desperate Living, Female Trouble, Mondo Trasho, Multiple Maniacs, beginning an oeuvre as strange, demented and curiously distinctive as say, Bunuel, Jack Smith, Kenneth Anger, but a different sort of cachet.
From Waters coterie of ridiculously bad and memorable cast members (Edith Massey, Mink Stole, Cookie Mueller, David Lochary) emerged Divine (aka Harris Glen Milstead) the notorious, enormous drag queen forever noteworthy for consuming dog feces in the wretchedly classic Pink Flamingos. Over time, the inimitable Divine rose to the station of Counter-cultural Saint, enchanting the hearts and minds of freaks, malcontents, fringe dwellers and shameless sex iconoclasts. God bless her! (And sign me up!)
Local actor Benjamin Lutz has crafted a raucous, raunchy, wistful and hilarious cabaret-style tribute to this dark princess in Divine: Live at the Boom-Boom Room! The small theater at State Fair’s Margo Jones has been transformed into a night club, with a bar and tables with votive candles. The action bounces back between Divine’s volcanic act and her private life, back stage. Interspersed with this thread is the narrative of freelance journalist Michael (Jonathan Barnes) and gender bending numbers by the angry in-house musicians and “Tina Turner.” We see film footage from Pink Flamingos and Divine returns to her shtick throughout, denouncing celebrities and rallying the audience pf the infamous gay disco with greetings like, “Hello Cocksuckers!”
Brad Smith (Divine) Benjamin Lutz (playwright) and Ryan Matthieu Smith (Director and Designer) et al converge to capture the spirit and essence of a performer who was truly phenomenal, creating an improbable yet charismatic persona that soared and delighted, simply because she was fearless and unrepentant. The atmosphere of playful, orgiastic merriment is exponentially boosted by Brad Smith’s channeling of Divine, demonic goddess onstage and jaundiced, frail, petulant actress struggling with disappointment in her dressing room. The supporting cast keeps the atmosphere giddy, lively and just this side of criminal mischief.
It would be a sin and a shame if you missed the remarkable, spectacular Brad Smith as the sinful, shameful, subversive, raunchy Divine in Benjamin Lutz’s Divine: Live at the Boom-Boom Room! Smith’s performance as the legendary queen of depravity, Divine is nothing short of uncanny, doing 200% justice to our Patron Saint of Decadence. Lutz’s script is frantic, juicy, appalling, heart-breaking, anarchistic and abso-fucking-lutely wonderful. Be there or be a Fascist!
Cast and Creators: Brad Smith, Benjamin Lutz, Ryan Matthieu Smith, Kennedy Brooke Styron, Caleb Pieterse, Joey Casoria, Jonathan Barnes and Morgana Shaw.
Divine: Live at the Boom-Boom Room! Playing at The Margo Jones (Magnolia Lounge) at Fair Park, 8 PM, Thursdays-Sundays through July 30th. 1121 First Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75210. www.giantentertainment.org.