…and the quest to see everything

Hairspray ’88

ph. New Line

Did you know that I played Edna Turnblad (Divine) at a high school production of the musical version? In a Catholic school. We sang ‘Mama I’m a Big Girl Now.’ I had this guttural voice that I assume is from a Broadway production recording, not the fuller voice that Divine had. I also wore a moo-moo and A-cup rice boobs, undeserving of the fabulous outfits that Divine wore.

When I was watching Pink Flamingos two weeks or so, there’s a scene when Divine walks around in this predominantly black area downtown, their eyes at her, the division between race unspoken but obvious. I feel as if Hairspray bridges those two people, taking us back to 1963. Like the earlier John Waters film,this movie would depict a taboo, this time, black and Caucasian miscegenation, with psychological carnality. Its protagonist is a plus sized young woman, in this film she’s Edna’s daughter Tracy (Ricki Lake), has a best friend in love with a young black man and fighting someone skinnier and bitchier.

And of course, who can make a movie about racism so irreverently than Waters himself? There’s a guy holding a lynch rope in an amusement park scene. This movie also features the most endearing line reading of the word ‘Negro.’ Also featuring Debbie Harry, Jerry Stiller and Waters alumnus Mink Stole.

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