“Female Trouble was the only movie I wrote completely as a star vehicle for Divine,” John Waters tells us by phone about his Pink Flamingos follow-up, which screens at BAM this Saturday as part of its I Am Divine series. “His character, Dawn Davenport, was based on my memories of the girls I went to junior high with, especially one so-called ‘bad girl’ with Dawn’s hairdo named Carol: she lived across the street from Divine, and they used to play poker for pimple medicine, rather than for money.
“I like all of Divine’s performances in my movies, but to me Female Trouble gives him his meatiest role: he starts as a teenager, ages 15 years, commits crimes, performs a trampoline act, plays both a man and a woman at one point, and gets to have sex with himself. Divine always liked being the star of a movie, and I think that he loved looking so glamorous in this one. I never had a burning aim with my movies except to hopefully be delighted by the perverse; even when Dawn finally goes to the electric chair, to me, it’s a happy ending.”