by Angela Meyer
In a cold Baltimore church basement, a vile film flickered over faces. Is it a she? they wondered at the pudgy one, hair pulled back to make room for the skyscraper make-up. A middle-class man muttered, but his wife, who had been curious (flier tucked under her windscreen wiper) fingered the pearls on her neck and wondered how it would feel to have them, one by one, slipped into her anus.
Divine had to kneel, to pick up the turd. He was inspiring to the ‘gays and the heavy-set’, his mum told a documentary-maker, years later. Divine preferred to be called an actor, or a shim, not a female impersonator. Divine’s director, with his skinny mo, called her a he. Divine smiled when she ate the shit.
A raucous racket at the closing shot: laughter plus wiggles of discomfort, even from the stoned-out post-Beats and Hippies. The Priest thought: how creative he is. He’d never seen anything like it.
The censors crossed themselves. The theatre put it on after an ‘educational’ sex film.
Not so many years later, in 1988, Divine crashes after dinner in a hotel, and drops away. An enlarged heart. Someplace else, trash plays on VHS in the background at a party. One boy is going down on another for the first time. A stoned girl thinks nothing is new, but everything is lovely. On the screen, Divine drops to her knees again.
Angela Meyer is a Melbourne-based writer, reviewer, scholar, drinker, Bowie-fan, lover-not-a-fighter and literary blogger for Crikey.