Thursday, December 6, 2012

Multiple Maniacs (John Waters, 1970)

Quick, alert the mainstream media, I'm about to wallow in my element. Has anyone seen me wallow in my element? It ain't pretty, honey. And it doesn't get anymore hella-mental than my face wallowing in the vicinity of Multiple Maniacs, the John Waters' film that raises the question: What's a rosary job? Licking bicycle seats and sniffing glue, now these are my passions, and they're fully explored in this flimsy excuse for filmed entertainment. Okay, maybe they're not my passions, and they might not even be fully explored. But I do appreciate it whenever a director decides to include either one of them in his or her film, especially glue sniffing, as you don't see it depicted or talked about much nowadays. Oh, sure, you'll see it on reality shows on that channel that used to show ballet in the 1980s (now they only air programs about lumpy, illiterate mouth-breathers who pay money for other people's junk), but you hardly ever see it movies anymore. I love inhalant abuse. (Fuck you, Mr. Drug Dealer. I'm going to the housewares section of my local hardware store to shoplift me some spray paint.) In fact, I love inhalant abuse almost as much as I love cross-dressing. And, get this, this flick features both in the same scene. Yeah, you heard right. A male glue fiend in a dress rapes Divine, with the help of a female glue fiend, sort of in an alleyway. What do you mean "sort of"? You either rape Divine or you don't rape Divine. No, what I mean is, given Divine's ample girth, her body wasn't entirely in the alleyway. Hence, she was "sort of in the alleyway." In retrospect, the glue sniffers were probably just too lazy to pull Divine all the way into the alleyway after they jumped her on the street. In other words, I apologize for implying that Divine was too fat to fit in an alleyway. Anyway, what Divine's unpleasant encounter with the glue sniffers has to do with the film's plot is anyone's guess, but I did enjoy it on some bizarre level that went well beyond my sphere of comprehension.
In case you're wondering, the reason I pretended that licking bicycle seats was one of my passions was because I own a bicycle with a seat and I thought about licking it after the movie was over. But cooler, less bicycle seat licking heads prevailed, and my bicycle seat is currently languishing in a state of not being licked.
"Welcome to Lady Divine's Cavalcade of Perversions: The Sleaziest Show on Earth," announces Mr. David (David Lochary), the M.C. of the aforementioned show that purportedly features fags, sluts, dykes, and pimps. Beckoning all those within earshot, Mr. David is selling the living shit out of this show. But get this, it's free!
Standing before a couple of crudely erected tents, Mr. David eventually catches the attention of three ladies wearing clothes that were inexplicably fashionable at the time this film was made. Now, I don't know who two of the women were, but I know for sure that one of them was played by none other than Mink Stole (Female Trouble, Desperate Living, etc.), my favourite Dreamlander. The second she appears onscreen I had this sudden urge to thrust my hand up her skirt. Which, I've been told, is perfectly normal. At any rate, playing a total square, Mink and her friends reluctantly enter one of the tents. What they see, according to Mr. David, will shock and amaze them.
Check this out, for absolutely nothing you get to see a guy fondling a bra, a heroin addict go through withdrawal, some armpit licking (and some bicycle seat licking as well), watch the puke-eater eat his own puke, and see two "actual queers" kissing. I'll admit, it's pretty tame by today's standards; in fact, you can probably see all of them acted out on HBO's awesome new show, Girls (eww, you just mentioned something current). Either way, in typical John Waters fashion, he manages to make the perversions on display seem harmless.
Is Susan Lowe the topless cavalcade pervert in the black pantyhose we see at the beginning of the film wondering when the shows going to begin? I'm just asking because I only know her as Mole McHenry from Desperate Living, and the woman in the black pantyhose doesn't look an angry bull dyke.
Just as Lady Divine (Divine), the star of the show, is about to go on, a bleach blonde chick named Bonnie (Mary Vivian Pearce) tries to approach her. Not in the mood to hear what some autoerotic coprophiliac has to say, Lady Divine, who is lounging in the nude, tells her henchmen to remove "this slut" from her presence. Instructing Mr. David to "hand me my hose," Lady Divine eventually hits the stage. What's her perversion, you ask? Why her perversion is to pull out a gun and rob the audience of their valuables.
You see, the "Cavalcade of Perversions" is merely a ruse, a scam, if you will, that Mr. David and Lady Divine run. However, things start to fall apart when a bleach blonde, you guessed it, named Bonnie, enters the picture. Just because his attempt to get Bonnie into the cavalcade was thwarted doesn't mean Mr. David is going to continue being  Lady Divine's lap dog. Telling Bonnie to meet him at Pete's Club (a joint run by Edith Massey), Mr. David, Lady Divine and Ricky (Rick Morrow), Lady Divine's right hand man, head over to the apartment that belongs to Cookie Divine (Cookie Mueller), Lady Divine's always topless daughter, to argue. In other words, engage in some over the top John Waters-style dialogue.
While Mr. David is making arrangements to meet with Bonnie, Lady Divine is busy being raped by a couple of glue fiends.
You know how I said certain parts of Multiple Maniacs went well beyond my sphere of comprehension? Well, when the Infant Jesus of Prague grabs Lady Divine by the hand and escorts her to a church, St. Cecilia, I think, things definitely started to sail away from comprehension comfort zone. As we're shown images of a badly beaten man wearing a crown of thorns dragging, what looked like, a giant lower case 't' made out of wood, spliced with a scene that featured Mink Stole, playing a character named "Mink Stole," cramming rosary beads up Lady Divine's ass in one of the church's pews.
Thankfully, things start to come back to my realm once Lady Divine and Mink Stole leave the church together. Their conversation on the street (Mink's talks about her transient lifestyle), is edited together with a scene that has Mr. David performing cunnilingus on Bonnie; I loved it when David Lochary, during a moment of post-coital bliss, puts his ashtray Mary Vivian Pearce's stomach. I don't know what I like better, David Lochary and Mary Vivian Pearce as a couple or David Lochary and Mink Stole as a couple. On the other hand, the sight of Mink Stole and Divine as a couple was just plain odd.
Make sure to keep on a close eye on Mink Stole (who is wearing a turban) when she's talking to Lady Divine on the street. As her facial expressions are almost as memorable as the film's infamous lobster rape scene. Carefully examining the scene several times now, I've come to the conclusion that Mink was trying to get John Waters's attention. And instead of breaking character, Mink tries to inform him that some people are were about to walk through their shot by bulging her expressive eyes in a manner that signaled to John that something was up.
Hold on. Did you say, "lobster rape"? Yeah, yeah, Divine is unexpectedly raped by a giant lobster near the end of the film. If you don't mind, I'd rather talk about Mink Stole's eyes. So, where did the lobster come from? Fine. I'll talk about the lobster. To answer your question, I have no idea. In fact, I don't think anyone really knows where it came from. And that's what makes the scene so special, it just comes out of nowhere. Like, boom! Here's a giant lobster. Suck on that, crustacean enthusiasts.
As far as classic lines go, you know, like, "I wouldn't suck your lousy dick if I was suffocating and there was oxygen in your balls!" from Female Trouble, or "My saliva tastes funny, and I itch a lot," from Desperate Living, I'd have to say that David Lochary's "I love you so fucking much I could shit," was my favourite line uttered in Multiple Maniacs, as it encapsulates everything I love about John Waters: Sweetness wrapped in a cheaply made veneer of vulgarity.


  1. This and "Mondo Trasho" just got moved up on the to-watch list. Barbara Steele in big fancy dresses takes priority, though.

  2. I've been to Barbara Steele's hometown.

  3. That's cool! Have you spent a lot of time in England?

    I've been in Baltimore a bunch of times. Mostly when I used to live in the DC metro area. They've fixed up the parts of it by the waterfront, mostly. I saw an interview with John Waters saying its sad now that there are less "hookers, sailors, and rats" there. Its true. It never saw a single cross-dress hooker at the Inner Harbor. Mostly yuppies. It was kind of a downer. Also no cross-dressers or gimps at the Orioles games. That wasn't a big shock, though. A bigger surprise was the O's actually making the play-offs this past season!!!

    There are still some extremely rough parts of town, but I don't think mincing about in drag in those areas be the best idea.

  4. Nope, just once, when I was, oh, let's say, ten.

    The closest I've come to visiting Baltimore is reruns of Homicide: Life on the Street. Actually, what am I talking about? Reruns? I watched Homicide when it aired on NBC. Boo-ya!

    I love listening John Water wax poetically about Charm City.

    Extremely rough and mincing are a lethal combination.

  5. Man, they don't make 'em like this anymore. I wish someone would!