Pink Flamingos: An Exercise in Poor Taste
Pink Flamingos – 1972, by John Waters
“If someone vomits while watching one of my films, it’s like getting a standing ovation”
Pink Flamingos is #4 on a list of 50 of the most disturbing films ever made and is also #29 on a list of 50 films you should see before you die. It was banned in Australia and in some parts of Canada and Norway and there is a Japanese laserdisc version that blurs over all pubic hair. It’s the third film by the “Pope of Trash,” John Waters, and it’s his first movie in color. It’s remembered for many things: cars, the soundtrack, the dialogue and, of course, The “filthiest person alive,” Babs Johnson a.k.a the “most beautiful person alive,” Divine.
Pink Flamingos is known as one of the most notorious films ever made and was described as “the poop film” to Traci Lords. After a Florida family watched Hairspray they decided like it so much when they went back to their local video rental store looked for other John Waters movies and picked up Pink Flamingos. They got through half of the movie before they called the police and later on after the jurors deliberated, a $5,000 dollar fine was charged to Waters and awarded to the family.
Pink Flamingos was filmed in 1972 and it all took place in Baltimore, Maryland on a decaying mansion property inhabited by a commune of draft dodgers and drug dealers after “Bob, the Psychedelic Pig” gave them permission to build the trailer on the back of the property in the woods. It was made on a budget of $10,000.
Pink Flamingos is still one of the craziest movies I’ve ever seen in my life, so far. The first time I watched this movie it took me over 3 hours to finish the whole thing, even though the movie is only an hour and a half long.
The filthiest person alive is hiding out in a trailer in the woods under the name Babs Johnson (Divine) with her family. Her mother, a 250 pound senior citizen named Edie (Edith Massey), who sits in a playpen all day dressed in a girdle and bra, Crackers (Danny Mills), her demented hillbilly-hippie son, and Cotton (Mary Vivian Pierce), her bleach blond voyeuristic traveling companion are all trying to live quietly knowing the title of ‘The Filthiest People Alive’ belongs to them.
Connie and Raymond Marble (Mink Stole & David Lochary), a red- and blue-haired couple who sell heroin to elementary school children and kidnap hitchhiking girls to feed their ‘adoption clinic’ are trying to seize the title of filthiest people alive. After being provoked, Divine puts the Marble’s on trial and murders them at a press conference in front of all the sleaziest newspapers in the country. At the end of the movie Divine does one of the craziest thing I’ve ever seen in my life to reclaim her title of ‘Filthiest Person Alive’ after having to follow a dog around. After she reclaims her title, Divine and her family move to another location to try and live a peaceful life of filth in Boise, Idaho.
In order to get the scene where Divine reclaims her title just right, the dog owners fed the dog for three days and didn’t take it out just to make sure everything would come out just right. Van Smith is the mastermind behind the make-up and helped with the clothing of Divine and helped create one of the most beloved and influential drag icons. Van Smith is the usual costume designer make-up artist on most of John Waters films.
If you’re not very familiar with John Waters and you’ve only seen Hairspray or Cry-Baby, Pink Flamingos is very different. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all because Hairspray and Cry-Baby are amazing movies. Hairspray helped bring John Waters and Divine to a wider audience and allowed people to see Harris Glen Milstead as more than just the character Divine.
All of our John Waters films are going to be in our Cult dvd section. We usually have all of the available John Waters titles but if you’re looking for something and don’t see it, just ask and we can order it for you.
Brace yourself before watching this movie and I hope you’re dressed up and ready to fall in love with the Most Beautiful Woman in the World.