Here are three more of John Waters's most popular screenplays — for the first time in print, including an original introduction by Waters and dozens of fun film stills. John Waters, the writer and director of these movies, is a legendary filmmaker whose films occupy their own niche in cinema history. His muse and leading lady was Divine — a 300-pound transvestite who could eat dog shit in one scene and break your heart in the next. In "Hairspray," a "pleasantly plump" teenager, played by Ricki Lake, and her big-hearted hairdresser mother, played by Divine, teach 1962 Baltimore about race relations by integrating a local TV dance show. "Female Trouble" is a coming-of-age story gone terribly awry: Dawn Davenport (again, Divine), progresses from loving schoolgirl to crazed mass murderer destined for the electric chair — all because her parents wouldn't buy her cha-cha heels for Christmas. In "Multiple Maniacs," dubbed by Waters a "celluloid atrocity," the traveling sideshow "Lady Divine's Cavalcade of Perversions" is actually a front for a group of psychotic kidnappers, with Lady Divine herself the most vicious and depraved of all — but her life changes after she gets raped by a fifteen-foot lobster.
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It's been 17 years since erstwhile gross-out filmmaker Waters published three screenplays (Pink Flamingos, Desperate Living, and the as-yet-unfilmed Flamingos Forever) as Trash Trio. You'd think he would've come up with a similarly catchy title for the second helping of his cinematic oeuvre, but no. Still, leading off with his greatest hit, the movie-to-musical-and-(come '06)-back-again Hairspray, ought to grab the rubes, and once they're in for that piece of endearing, off-kilter nostalgia about integrating an American Bandstand- like show in early-sixties Baltimore, maybe they'll stay for the two scenarios for funnier, if hardly as well-produced, early Waters features. Made on either side of Waters' art-house smash Pink Flamingos, Multiple Maniacs and Female Trouble are excruciatingly campy satires of pornographic sex and violence. Shoestring-budgeted, both starred Waters' transvestite performer friend Divine and now seem hilarious harbingers of movies such as Natural Born Killers and lots of what's on cable TV. All published here with several scenes cut from the completed films, they and Hairspray are gloriously silly. Ray Olson
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