Washington’s superstar DJ, Shea Van Horn, is debuting the documentary film “I am Divine: The True Story of the Most Beautiful Woman in the World” this Saturday at the Black Cat. He’ll be hosting the screening as his drag alter ego Summer Camp. And, like Divine, we expect this premier to be an over-the-top affair of camp, crass, and the shocking.
We asked Shea to give us some reflections on Divine, the Baltimore shock artist who changed film forever.
Divine changed my life. I came out the same year that I first heard of him–1986. My gay identity is heavily influenced by Divine, both his music and his acting. I think he is one of the most important individuals in gay culture. Everyone should see his films and hear his music. He was a trailblazer who was taken from us too early. He was only 42 when he passed away and was just at the beginning of his career.
For those who know and love Divine, I hope they come see Jeffrey Schwarz’s film and enjoy 90 minutes that capture the glory that is Divine. For those who don’t know Divine, I hope they become curious to learn more about him, see his films, and listen to his music. Certainly, some of it is dated now, but still very relevant. Divine was a trailblazer who paved the way for the drag performers of today. Any queen who records a dance track and releases a video to promote it, should give props to Divine, who did that 30 years ago.
Everything. Summer Camp wouldn’t exist if not for Divine. He was the first drag queen I ever saw and I immediately fell in love with him–his sense of humor and willingness to be filthy. It’s too easy to discount shock value and potty humor, but it makes us laugh — even if it also makes us uncomfortable (or gag…in the case of Divine eating dog shit).
- Christmas morning at the Davenports when Dawn doesn’t get her cha cha heels.
- Dawn Davenport eating a meatball sandwich in class and threatening the girl who tells on her.
- The “Divine Walking down the Streets of Baltimore” sequences from Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble. I have this gif saved to my bookmarks. I watch it whenever I need a good laugh.
- Babs Johnson’s birthday party in “Pink Flamingos” when she snorts poppers. You can actually see when the poppers hit her.
- Babs when she receives the turd in the mail.
People don’t talk about “Mondo Trasho” and “Multiple Maniacs” as much as the later films, but those two films have so many great scenes that feature Divine’s comedic abilities, too. In Mondo Trasho – The sequence of Divine driving her car, seeing the hitchhiker, and then backing over Mary Vivian Pearce’s character. As well as Divine’s death scene; rolling around in pig crap. Or in Multiple Maniacs when she shoots the girl who says, “You’re sick and repulsive.” I love the way Divine yells her lines and the immediacy that she reacts. She asks the girl to repeat herself, hears the insult, and then promptly executes the girl.
But I think my all time favorite is Babs shoplifting a piece of meat by sticking it between her legs and then barbecuing it for dinner while singing, “Black Magic.”
This screening is a bit of a mash-up between a standard film screening and a nightlife entertainment event. That’s something new in gay nightlife in DC. Where do you hope to take future events, in that respect?
For a long time, I’ve wanted to host an event called Summer Film Fest, where Summer Camp shows her favorite films and DJs. So I guess this might be the first in that series. We’ll see if there is another one.
I am Divine: The True Story of the Most Beautiful Woman in the World
Black Cat (Main Stage)
1811 14th Street NW
Saturday, January 4
Doors 9 PM | Movie 10 PM
**SEATING IS LIMITED** The night will have a 400 person capacity with 50 cabaret, 50 bar stools, 140 row seated, and the rest standing room. Seating is first-come, first-seated.
Purchase advance tickets here. (Limited Capacity)
For more on DC’s queer nightlife scene, follow the @BYGays on Twitter.