Sex Cells’ Divine Ball At The El Rey Theater, Saturday March 31st 2018
Sex Cells is always a freak show, the monthly event organized by Lethal Amounts, the brainchild of gallerist and party promoter Danny Fuentes, actually advertises itself as just being this, a complete freak show, but last night had another level of freakiness. Sex Cells had its first Divine Ball with a Divine look-alike contest, and it was pure freedom in the trashy and filthy department.
John Waters’ movies are certainly an acquired taste, or a taste you may never acquire as a matter of fact. I am not talking about the gentle family-friendly ‘Serial Mom’ or ‘Hairspray’, I am talking about his vile, trashy, filthy, crazy, outrageous old flicks, like ‘Pink Flamingos’ and ‘Female Trouble’. I don’t know how this happened but I watched these movies when I was still a teenager, after midnight, and I was amazed that such movies could have been made. That was pushing weirdness, vulgarity and ridiculousness to a point of no return and a place I had never seen before, not only Waters’ movies were the crowning of bad taste but they basically were going against any convention, rule, boundary and so-called morality you have been taught about when you are a teenager, and it tasted like freedom and anarchy.
Some people may see Waters as a pervert and disgusting character – and he is probably happy about that – but for many, is obviously a movie icon, an expert in the shocking business, a tastemaker and trendsetter, the master of counterculture and still the incontestable king of the abject and grotesque. May be eating dog feces is not your thing, but it was obviously one of the highlights of last night.
From 9 to 1 am, the El Rey Theater slowly filled up with one of the craziest crowds I have ever seen. There were all the Divine versions you can imagine, more or less male or female but always ‘female trouble’, blonde or brunette, short or tall but always on the heavy side of course. People had been creative but the best ones were clones of Female Trouble’s Dawn Davenport, the rebel teenager with her acid-scarred face, grotesque make-up and beehive, or copycats of Pink Flamingos’ trailer trash and underground criminal Divine, the filthiest person alive, wearing this absurd make up and legendary tight mermaid red dress. There were many versions of other Waters’ characters, and while DJs Danny Fuentes and Matthew Pernicano were warming up the room, the theater became a real John Waters movie, with a photo booth where you could immortalize the night by surrounding yourself with some plastic pink flamingos.
Bathed in a pink light, Plasmic let her inner female trouble run free during a short set filled with her feminist anthems, preparing the crowd for the contest, which was judged by Linda Ramone, Traci Lords and Waters’ favorite actress, Mink Stole… the freak parade was a scene to see, while the best Divine were also asked to react some of the fav scenes of the movies, including a lobster attack, a drug injection scene and that crazy dog shit delicacy meal. It was ugly and trashy, as hilarious as a Waters movie, and I couldn’t believe Traci Lords’ grimaces at each outrageous reenactment of some offensive scene… didn’t she star in some adult movies in the ‘80s?
The winner, a perfect Divine, was Cara Zozula, a makeup artist in real life, who had probably an advantage right there. ‘I’m the filthiest person alive officially’, she wrote on her social media, ‘Last night was better than losing your virginity on prom night, I won the Divine costume contest and Mink Stole & Traci Lords crowned me the Filthiest Person Alive!!’
She looked excited and rightly so, the night was a tribute to the drag queen legend, a demented fashion icon, still deeply influential 30 years after his death. And this, for a good reason, he broke all the rules, and went where nobody dared to go.