Mink Stole on life with John Waters and death in the new horror-comedy 'All About Evil'
"I guess there's just two kinds of people, Miss Sandstone. My kind of people and assholes."– Mink Stole as Connie Marble in Pink Flamingos
Do you recall your first encounter with the trashy, transgressive, and all-too-true universe of John Waters? I do. It was at a 1980 midnight screening of Pink Flamingos, which, at the time, was almost more than I could handle. Reared on a diet of Hitchcock, Romero, and Mad magazine, I found Flamingos' freaky mirror universe – in which Connie (Mink Stole) and Raymond Marble (David Lochary), "two jealous perverts," engage in a spectacularly seedy death struggle with the ample, cross-dressed, coprophagous charm-bomb Divine for the title of "filthiest people alive" – to be a joyous assault on all things humdrum and culturally safe. (Granted, I didn't think in those terms at the time; I was more likely to expound on how gross Edith Massey's egg lady was or argue with my high school geek squad about whether or not that was a real dog-bomb that Divine scarfed down.)
Most of all, though, I remember the queasy allure of Mink Stole's conflagration-orange wig and the Fifties-retro horn-rimmed eyeglasses she wore for the role of the scheming Connie Marble. They signaled both "outsider" and "bad kitty" to my friends and me, and that explosive faux-coiffure haunts me to this day. Stole, of course, went on to appear in nearly all of Waters' films; frequently cast in roles that were both repellent and inexplicably attractive, she made Waters' villains fun in a misguided sort of way.
Stole's film career owes, by her own admission, everything to Waters, but the Baltimore native's résumé is jam-packed with juicy, freaky, funny roles in the films of others, too, not the least of which is her newest, All About Evil, a horror-comedy that plays with classic horror movie tropes and co-stars Natasha Lyonne and Cassandra Peterson (aka Elvira). As with much of Stole's curriculum vitae, it's a doozy of a picture, equal parts horror and humor, with much on its mind. Not unlike Stole herself.
The Austin Chronicle spoke to Stole on the eve of All About Evil's Texas premiere and the co-screening of Pink Flamingos at the Alamo Drafthouse. Two kinds of people? Sure, and Mink Stole is our kind.
Austin Chronicle: All About Evil is a great little homage to both horror films of yore and the entire experience of going to your neighborhood theatre to watch funky, offbeat programming. How did you find this project, or did it find you?
Mink Stole: Peaches Christ and I go way back. I was the very first live guest at his Midnight Mass in San Francisco 10 years ago, and I've been a guest many times since, and I've always just adored him. He's all good things, and I was in before I read the script.
AC: For those who aren't familiar with Peaches' work ....
MS: Right. Peaches Christ is the celebrated drag persona of a guy named Joshua Grannell, who is also the director and writer of All About Evil. For many years he had been putting on a series of shows with films at midnight on Saturday nights called Midnight Mass. They were all camp classics, and each movie would be preceded by a live stage show. He's an incredible showman, and he not only performed in the shows but he produced them as well and has received citations from the governor of California and the city of San Francisco. He's really quite an institution.
AC: Do you want to talk about John Waters and what he's meant to your career?
MS: He was my career, for the longest time! Of all his films that I've been in, I think Female Trouble is my favorite, especially of the early ones. I guess Serial Mom would be my favorite from the later ones. But, you know, I was a very lucky person. I met John before he was a household name. When I met him, he had one 10-minute, 8-millimeter, black-and-white film to his credit. And that's all he had. We met in Provincetown in Cape Cod, and he was very charming, very charismatic, and then at the end of the summer we both moved back to Baltimore. He called me up one day and said, "I'm shooting this movie; would you like to be in it?" and I said, "Sure." So we filmed a couple of scenes, and that turned out to be a movie called Roman Candles which is never seen because it's impossible to show – it takes three 8-millimeter projectors and a tape recorder. It's really difficult. And then from there we moved on to Multiple Maniacs, Mondo Trasho, and the rest is history.
My career grew with John. I wasn't doing any acting with anybody else, so I was just really, really lucky to find him. Because I loved it. I loved doing it. I was kind of adrift at the time, too. I was young and didn't really know what I was going to do, and so meeting John gave my life a real center and a focus.
AC: It's difficult to imagine anyone else ever having the sheer, transgressive impact of Seventies and early Eighties-era John Waters.
MS: John worked really hard. It didn't come to him – he went out and got it. He carried films around in the trunk of his car and took them to movie theatres and said, "Please play my film." There were no computers back then. We had handwritten scripts. There weren't even any Xerox machines. I mean, this was a million years ago. Eventually, with the later scripts, he would get them printed, but this was the age of mimeograph!
AC: Very guerrilla.
MS: Yes. On the one hand it was easier because there were not as many people trying. The pool was smaller. But at the same time, life in the pool was harder.
All About Evil screens Saturday, May 15, 7 & 11pm at the Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz (320 E. Sixth), with Peaches Christ, Mink Stole, and Cassandra Peterson in attendance. Hey Homo! presents Pink Flamingos on Sunday, May 16, at 6:45pm, with Mink Stole and Peaches Christ. For tickets, visit www.originalalamo.com.