Bernard Jay Not Simply Divine

ISBN 13: 9780863697401

Not Simply Divine

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9780863697401: Not Simply Divine
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To call Divine an outrageous character is an understatement. This biography, written by Divine's best friend, provides a "warts 'n' all" account of his life and work. Born Harris Glenn Milstead in 1945 and raised in a respectable Baltimore suburb, Divine's hairdressing career was diverted by John Waters, his near neighbour and amateur film-maker, and their cult status grew with movies like "Pink Flamingoes" and "Female Trouble". In 1976 Divine teamed up with the author, an English producer, and the two remained partners until Divine's death in 1988. This is the author's personal account of Divine's life.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

The life of the most outrageous drag queen of them all, told with plenty of tenderness and campy humor by his former manager. Divine was born Harris Glenn Milstead, the son of Baltimore Baptists, and grew up something of a monster, perhaps because of his parents' wild indulgence of their angel-faced, big-boned boy. Long after he had ballooned to 300-plus pounds and left his beauty parlor business to become a gay icon and movie star, Divine was borrowing his parents' credit cards, purchasing furs and other extravagances without informing them, imperiling both their financial and mental health. Jay, a London theater manager, discovered the strange and surprisingly winning Divine in the bizarre off-Broadway hit Women Behind Bars. He describes his charge's beginnings in director John Waters's films, including Pink Flamingos, the role in which the ``Divine'' character came to full flower. Jay then describes how he and Divine decided to work together and goes on to recount his trials with the often selfish star, ``the epitome of excess and vulgarity'' with his wild eating binges, nonstop pot-smoking, dyspepsia, narcolepsy, and near-toxic flatulence. Jay's sad story of the struggle to save Divine's character from one-dimensionality includes Divine's days as a mega- selling disco diva in Europe and the aging performer's increasingly desperate attempts to become a player of character roles, which met with some success (including male and female parts in Waters's hit Hairspray) before Divine's sudden death at age 42 from sleep apnea, or occluded breathing, in 1988. Jay succeeds with grace and writerly flair in his self- appointed task of giving us Divine ``the man,'' illuminating his subject's troubled character without divesting him of his surprisingly affecting humanity. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Divine was underappreciated and misunderstood, asserts Jay in his well-executed, fully fleshed-out biography of the voluptuous star of such films as Polyester , Lust in the Dust and Hairspray . Certainly Jay, Divine's manager for 10 years until Divine's death in 1988, pulls no punches: "I can say there were many times when I loved Divine. But I'm not sure I can truly say that I really liked him." He goes on to chronicle Divine's addictions to food, marijuana and shopping, and his frequent bouts of selfishness, insensitivity and general loutishness. Yet Jay renders with insight and empathy Divine's love/hate relationship with his parents, his crippling self-doubts, and his frustration at his inability to win respect as an actor. As to be expected given the subject, it's a lot of fun, too. We see Divine giving the Duchess of Hamilton eye makeup tips and attending a party at which he and Jackie Kennedy Onassis were wearing the same dress. "We didn't talk, just glared at each other across the room." Much of the material will be familiar to those who read John Waters's Shock Value , but popular culture mavens, cult film buffs, and fans of this quintessential diva will not be disappointed. Photos.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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9780671884673: Not Simply Divine

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ISBN 10:  0671884670 ISBN 13:  9780671884673
Publisher: Touchstone, 1994
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