Desperate Living

Desperate Living

Peggy Gravel (Mink Stole) and Grizelda Brown (Jean Hill) escape arrest by running away to Mortville, a fantastical, trash-filled slum ruled by the fascist Queen Carlotta (Edith Massey), where they receive alarming makeovers. Van Smith, a Dreamland regular, designed the makeup and costumes, amalgamating the film’s garish outfits with drastically clashing textures and colors for a full-on assault on the eyes—and taste—of the audience. The third in John Waters’s so-called "trash trinity" that started with Pink Flamingos (1972) and Female Trouble (1974), Desperate Living’s fantastical sets were designed by his frequent collaborator Vincent Peranio with literal trash from Baltimore streets for a truly tasteless look.

DIRECTED/WRITTEN BY: John Waters. WITH: Liz Renay, Mink Stole, Susan Lowe, Edith Massey. 1977. 90 min. USA. Color. English. Rated X. 35mm.

Academy Museum film programming generously funded by the Richard Roth Foundation. 

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