Opening Night

Q&A with John Waters on September 5 moderated by critic J. Hoberman.

Waters’s hysterical, full-throated assault on celebrity culture pivots on an unforgettable performance by Divine as Dawn Davenport, a runaway teen who falls into a life of petty thievery only to becomes a media icon with the help of a pair of sexually repressed, upper-crust hairdressers. Divine called Female Trouble his favorite of his own films, and it’s not hard to see why: everything about the film, from the theme song down, is marked by his electric, gender-defying presence. (He also plays the male truck driver who, in one of the movie’s most grotesque scenes, knocks Dawn up.) But it’s the couple, played by David Lochary (“we rarely eat any form of noodle”) and Mary Vivian Pearce (“spare me your anatomy”), who become both the chief targets of Waters’s satire and, with their theory of beauty’s relationship to transgression and crime, improbable mouthpieces for his filmmaking philosophy. With memorable turns by Mink Stole as Dawn’s ill-fated daughter and Edith Massey as their hot-blooded next-door neighbor.

Photos by Bruce Moore © New Line Cinema