Today marks 25 years since the death of America's most beloved drag queen. Written by Linnea Crowther. Originally published March 2012.
You may not know the name Harris Glenn Milstead. But if you're a fan of campy movies and music, you just might know his alter-ego.
Divine (Wikimedia Commons/Midnightblueowl)
Divine was probably America's most beloved drag queen, and his over-the-top performance and appearance were perfect for the cult films of John Waters. Divine starred in many of Waters's movies, ending his reign with Hairspray. The original version of the film – and the favorite version of cult-movie purists – was released just weeks before Divine died on March 7, 1988.
But Divine was more than just a man who played women onscreen – he also had a successful career as a disco singer. His songs were strange and a little baffling, but they were also so very danceable. The combination took off in clubs around the world.
When Divine wasn't working, the drag came off – it was a persona, not his whole life. But as an actor and singer, he was happy to be known as Divine: "Divine. That's my name. It's the name John [Waters] gave me. I like it." The fans liked it too.