No mother wants to watch her son eat dog poop, as Frances Milstead, mother of the gifted actor and outrageous drag persona Divine (1945-1988) would agree. Divine asked her not to see the John Waters film Pink Flamingos
, in which the unforgettable poop-noshing scene occurs, and she has abided by his wishes. To her credit, though, she proudly describes the scene and its aftermath, in which Divine's friends overheard him calling an emergency room to ask what diseases his 12-year-old son might have picked up from eating a dog turd ("Yes, well, he's a little retarded."). Clearly Milstead is no ordinary mother. Page after page she provides a remarkably unembarrassed view of her son's adventures on and off screen. With amusing childhood details for true devotees of Divine, plenty of new photos, and judicious quoting from other sources, such as John Waters and his friend and producer Pat Moran, My Son Divine
serves as a corrective to Bernard Jay's harshly drawn Not Simply Divine
, and offers a warm, entertaining version of the drag star's life. --Regina Marler
From Publishers Weekly
This loving, photo-filled tribute to the 350-pound female impersonator/disco chanteuse/ character actor Divine (born Harris Glenn Milstead) offers cult movie fans an intimate biography of the star of Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, Lust in the Dust and other films, and stands as an excellent companion to John Waters's Shock Value. Thanks to an ideal matching of coauthors, there is a satisfying balance between "Glenny at home" anecdotes from Divine's mother and detailed coverage of his career from coauthors Heffernan and Yeager (writer and director, respectively, of Divine Trash, the award-winning documentary about the early films of Waters and Divine). Born to doting parents, Glenn was a complicated child: he struggled with his weight, and with his social life; he could be moody and occasionally demanding. His habit of charging purchases to his parents' credit cards eventually led to a nine-year estrangement. During that time, Waters rechristened Glenn "Divine" and created a midnight matinee star. "I wanted him to be the Godzilla of drag queens," said Waters, who, along with costars and friends, is extensively interviewed throughout. Later, happily reunited with his family, Divine found mainstream success with 1988's Hairspray; a few weeks later, at 42, he died of cardiac arrest. Many quoted within this volume decry the negativity of Not Simply Divine, the lively 1993 memoir by Divine's manager Bernard Jay. But the portraits resemble one another, in that each is a warts-and-all biography of an artist who was larger than life in both talent and temperament. Color and b&w photos. (Nov.)Forecast: With hundreds of never-before-published photos and the ace credentials of the authors, fans of the flamboyant star will find this package hard to resist.
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