October 19, 1945
Harris Glenn Milstead aka Divine was born to a rather well off socially conservative family on October 19, 1945, at the Women’s Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland and would grow up to be the the most famous and fabulous Drag Queen of the Century. (Sorry RuPaul but you can’t hold a cha-cha heel to Divine!) Divine weighed 320 lbs. and ballooned at the midriff like the south side of a hippopotamus. Add to all that a 40-lb. blizzard-blond fright wig, a face like a big, eerie, poster-colored subway graffito, and a set of humongous foam-rubber falsies—each packed with 50 lbs. of uncooked lentils. He called himself Divine and he was proud of his creation: a unique and hilarious high-camp cartoon.
Divine aka Milstead embraced the counterculture of the 1960s and became involved with Waters’s acting troupe, the Dreamlanders, starring in early Waters films Mondo Trasho (1969), Multiple Maniacs (1970), Pink Flamingos (1972) and Female Trouble(1974). Hits on the U.S. midnight movie circuit, the films became cult classics. In the 1970s, Divine moved to theater, appearing with The Cockettes before performing in Women Behind Bars and The Neon Woman. Continuing cinematic work, he starred in Polyester (1981), Lust in the Dust (1985) and Hairspray (1988). In 1981, Divine embarked in the disco industry, producing Hi-NRG tracks that were mostly written by Bobby Orlando. He achieved global chart success with hits like “You Think You’re a Man”, “I’m So Beautiful” and “Walk Like a Man”.
Divine considered himself to be male, and was not transgender or transsexual. He was gay and damn proud of it and during the 1980s had an extended relationship with a married man named Lee, who accompanied him almost everywhere that he went. They later separated, and Divine went on to have a brief affair with gay porn star Leo Ford, something that was widely reported upon in the gay press
On March 7, 1988, three weeks after Hairspray was released nationwide Divine passed away in Los Angeles, California from cardiomegaly but has remained a prominent cult figure within the LGBT community, and has provided the inspiration for fictional characters, artworks and songs. Various books and documentary films devoted to his life have also been produced, including Divine Trash (1998) and I Am Divine (2013).