I Am Divine is coming soon, but only with your help

Divine in "Female Trouble"

The filmmakers behind the new documentary ‘I Am Divine’ need your help to bring the story of The Most Beautiful Woman Alive to the big screen.


A little more than a year ago, I had the pleasure to chat — via email — with director Jeffrey Schwarz, the man behind the awesome documentary about director William Castle, and the recent HBO documentary Vito. Schwarz also worked on some bonus material for the home video release of the musical version of John Waters’ Hairspray, where he met John and hatched the plan to produce a documentary on Waters’ muse, Divine.

Divine had certainly been a cult figure in Baltimore and beyond before the original Hairspray hit theaters, but he became an “overnight” star in 1988 … and died suddenly, shockingly, soon after the film’s release. The star of Waters’ movies was gone, changing the tone of his films, but broadening the cult appeal of Divine. Fans still flock to Baltimore to take tours of the film’s locations, and to visit Divine’s final resting place in a cemetery in Towson (and adorning the headstone with various items such as lipstick and false eyelashes). Besides a book written by Divine’s mother, Frances Milstead, and an E! True Hollywood Story, the life of the star — and Glenn Milstead, the man behind the makeup — has gone largely untold. Until now.

The producers want I Am Divine to be a movie for the fans and by the fans.

Schwarz’s company, Automat Pictures, is hard at work on putting the finishing touches on the documentary I Am Divine, but they need your help. The producers want I Am Divine to be a movie for the fans and by the fans, and they are asking fans and interested parties to help fund the project with a new Kickstarter campaign in which they hope to raise $40,000 by Divine’s birthday, October 19th. As of this writing, they are just over halfway to the goal with a little more than a week to go. They are looking for donations in any amount, and of course the incentives get better the more you give.

To get a better idea of Schwarz’s vision for the movie, you can check out my earlier interview with him. To get an update on the film’s progress and what they need to complete with the help of the Kickstarter donations, I got in touch with co-producer Lotti Pharriss Knowles to check on their progress.

CD: How far along are you in the process now? What still needs to be done? What will the money from Kickstarter help you finish?

LPK: We have finished a “rough cut” of the movie, but still need to polish the edit and add music and graphics. We also need to pay a lot of hefty licensing fees in order to use all the fantastic film clips, photos and archival footage we’ve collected.

CD: When may people expect to see the film?

LPK: We hope people will be able to start seeing the movie in festivals early next year — but again, that’s entirely up to Divine’s fans if they help us reach our goal!

CD: Can you tease a bit about some interesting things we might see in the film, and who has participated?

LPK: Fans will find out a ton (no pun intended) of interesting information about Divine’s entire life and career — we’ve really dug deep to tell the whole story. And we’ve got so many fantastic interviews with his friends, co-workers, the surviving Dreamlanders (including John Waters, of course), and the last interview Divine’s mother gave before she died.

CD: Any famous faces outside of the whole Dreamland circle making appearances?

LPK: Some of the non-Dreamlander “luminaries” interviewed include Ricki Lake, Tab Hunter, Bruce Vilanch, Michael Musto, Holly Woodlawn, Greg Gorman, and Joshua Grannell aka Peaches Christ.

CD: You’re looking for people to donate to Kickstarter to help complete the film. What do you want to say to those people who may be considering a donation to really entice them to help out (in addition to the perks that come with making a donation)? Why should people help you complete this movie?

LPK: We’d like to tell people that this really is a movie BY and FOR Divine fans, and we want them to feel a sense of ownership of the film. Yes, it’s tough raising money for independent films and documentaries in this economy, but we’re doing Kickstarter mainly to create a community of Divine-lovers who can rally around this project and champion the legacy of The Most Beautiful Woman in the World!

Do you want to see the life story of The Most Beautiful Woman in the World (or The Filthiest Person Alive!) on the big screen? Check out the I Am Divine website for more information on the film and the Kickstarter campaign, and help make Divine the star she was always destined to be.


Photo Credit: New Line Cinema

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