Actress Mink Stole talks about late actor Divine, meeting John Waters and her new record

The Cast of Pink Flamingos. Divine (front row on the left), next to Mink Stole.
Mink Stole got wrapped up in acting when she met avant garde director John Waters in the mid-'60s. But this wasn't just a convenient accident: the East Coaster had a real knack for the B-movie style. Working hard as part of Waters's devoted crew -- dubbed The Dreamlanders -- Stole has now been acting on both stage and screen for more than four decades.

Coming to Denver this Saturday, July 20, as part of the Cinema Q Film Festival, Stole will speak about Divine, her late friend and fellow actor, in conjunction with the screening of the new documentary I Am Divine. In advance of her appearance, Stole spoke with Westword about the first time she met Waters, what it was like to work with Divine and the recent release of her first-ever studio album, Do Re MiNK.

See also:
- Keith Garcia's top five picks for the Cinema Q Film Festival
- Everything I know about real life I learned from John Waters
- John Waters on beer, bathroom reading and his signature mustache

Westword: I Am Divine is the story of Divine, a friend and fellow actor you worked closely with. What did you think of the film?

Mink Stole: I thought that (director) Jeffrey Schwarz created a documentary that was very affectionate and very respectful, but it wasn't a whitewash.

The film talks a lot about John Waters, the films he made and his working relationship with Divine. How did you come to work with John Waters and eventually Divine?

I met John in the mid-'60s in Provincetown on Cape Cod, and he had made one ten-minute, 8mm, black-and-white film. That was it; he wasn't a famous filmmaker yet. He was just a guy. He was an extraordinary guy -- incredibly charismatic, very self-confident and very motivated, which was attractive.

We had a lot of things in common -- we had both grown up with and had rejected Catholicism. We came from similar neighborhoods. We became friends after my sister introduced us -- she had known him in Baltimore. By the end of the summer, he, my sister and I and about half a dozen other people were all living together in Provincetown, and we went back to Baltimore together.

Through John, I met a whole slew of other people. I guess I don't remember the first time I ever met Divine....I have a vague recollection that it was at a party and I was on acid and he was draped in a sheet and he was kissing his dog, a little Yorkie that he had. That's my vague recollection, but I'm not sure.

John asked me if I would be in a movie and of course I said yes; I'm not stupid. We did Roman Candles and Divine and I are both in that, but we're not in scenes together. I guess the first time Divine and I actually worked together was Mondo Trasho, so that was '67 or '68. I don't remember -- it kind of blurs. Of course, we were lovers in Multiple Maniacs.

I love Divine's ability to embody these wild erratic women and then reserved housewife types, but with equal passion.

The thing with Divine is that he committed 100 percent to every role that he took. There was never any hesitation. We would get together for rehearsals and we would all laugh -- we would read these scenes and think, oh my god, John, how do you come up with this stuff?

But when the camera was rolling, you know, there was a 100 percent commitment -- it was "this is a role that I'm taking and I'm going to play it the best I can," and Divine was completely professional in that way.

The limited interview footage with Divine in the film really shows that -- his devotion to his craft as an actor.

Exactly. I used to get really annoyed when people called us amateurs. We were untrained, that much was true. We didn't belong to the actor's union back in the '60s and early '70s, so we didn't have that. But when I think of professionalism, I think of people who show up on time, do their work, know their lines and do what the director asks of them. That's what I think of as professional, and that's what we were.

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