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  • Writer's pictureMacabre Emporium Pod

Episode 31 - A Disney Villain and a Cajun Patron Saint

Sarah:

Drag Queen - Divine
Harris Glenn Milstead AKA Divine

Background

Harris Glenn Milstead was born in Baltimore, Maryland on October 19, 1945, to a conservative Baptist. His parents, Harris and Frances suffered two miscarriages prior to conceiving Glenn (which is what he preferred to be called to separate him and his father, as his father went by Harris). Glenn would be the only child. The family was considered well-off in their community. Glenn described them as “your upper middle-class American family.” He was given everything he wanted, including food, and he started gaining weight.


By the time he was a pre-teen, Glenn and family moved to Lutherville, which is a suburb of Baltimore. He didn’t have the easiest time in school. He went to Townson High School and was bullied for being overweight, as well as being more “feminine” than the other boys at school. He had spoken out later in life that he was beaten almost daily while at school. But he kept all of the things that happened to him to himself, out of fear that it would not only continue, but get even worse. However, a trip to the doctor's office would tell the truth. He had to disrobe for a physical, and there were numerous bruises on his young body. He broke down, as I’m sure any child would do that “got caught” in essence. Glenn would tell his parents what had been happening and they would call the police, and investigation ensued, and all of the kids that had a hand in Glenn’s abuse were expelled from school. Which caused Glenn to become even less popular. He said himself that he didn’t go out until he was 16 because of being self-conscious about his weight due to these assholes from school. However, he gained his confidence when he went from 180 pounds down to 145.


However, around 16 years old is when Glenn met and became friends with a man named John Waters, who would eventually become a filmmaker.


Post graduation in 1963, Glenn attended the Marinella Beauty School to learn how to do hair. He said this would help him in his career in show business. He worked at numerous salons, and even wound up being able to purchase his very own salon in Townson, with help from his parents. It didn’t last long though, as he quit doing hair in 1970.


He made new friends and would frequent the beatnik bars and clubs in the area.


In 1970, his parents took him to a psychiatrist, because he realized he was sexually attracted to men AND women. This was a taboo thing in the conventional American society back then.


Becoming Divine

“Divine” would be the nickname given to Glenn by John Waters. Waters had been reading Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet. At the time, it was a very controversial book, as it pertained to homosexuals that lived on the outskirts of Parisian society. Waters took the name “Divine” after a character from the book. In 1973, Glenn confirmed that he indeed liked the name that Waters gave him, and he used it. Divine is quoted in 1973 saying “Divine. That's my name. It's the name John [Waters] gave me. I like it. That's what everybody calls me now, even my close friends. Not many of them call me Glenn at all anymore, which I don't mind. They can call me whatever they want. They call me fatso, and they call me asshole, and I don't care. You always change your name when you're in the show business. Divine has stuck as my name. Did you ever look it up in the dictionary? I won't even go into it. It's unbelievable”.


While going to LGBT events in the 1970s, and making his “new” name, Divine, known…Waters encouraged him to make drag persona outrageous and gaudy. He stated that Divine should be the “Godzilla of drag queens” - which went against the standard for drag queens at that time, which was typically just a beauty pageant. So, Divine did just that. He embraced the town’s counterculture and Waters gave him the tagline “The most beautiful woman in the world…almost.”


The Divine Actor

Divine and his friend, David Lochary, joined John Water’s acting group called the Dreamlanders. Waters was intent on making the trashiest motion pictures in cinema history.


Divine would portray female roles in experimental short films called Roman Candles in 1966, where he would portray a drag queen as a smoking nun. It showed the Dreamlanders shoplifting clothes and modeling them. He starred in Eat Your Makeup in 1968 where he was a drag queen version of Jackie Kennedy. In the movie, she kidnaps models and forces them to eat their makeup. He acted in The Diane Linkletter Story in 1969, which was based on the death of Diane Linkletter. Of course, this would be trashy and over dramatized. Divine had the lead role here as well, playing the teenager who rebelled against their conservative parents after they tried to break them up from their hippie boyfriend before taking large quantities of LSD and committing suicide.


All of these were done in drag, obviously. He would go on to take the lead role for both of Water’s early full-length productions. Mondo Trasho in 1969 as well as Multiple Maniacs in 1970. Multiple Maniacs gained a lot of attention from the press. In 1972, Divine starred in Pink Flamingos, which became a cult classic and essentially sealed Divine’s fame in the American counterculture.


In the 1970s, Divine opened up his own vintage clothing store called Divine Trash. He sold items that he had purchased in thrift stores, flea markets and garage sales. It wound up having to be relocated because he never obtained a license to have the store. He didn’t make much money, and eventually sold his stock at low cost hoping to raise extra money. He sold the furniture from his rented and furnished apartment, which caused the landlady to go to authorities and have an arrest warrant put out for him, as everything he sold from the apartment belonged to the landlady. He was able to elude police by going to San Francisco, which had a massive gay subculture that drew him in, as at this point in his life, he was embracing his homosexuality.


From 1971-1972, Divine would star in another raunchy John Waters film called Pink Flamingos. It was designed by Waters to be “an exercise in poor taste.” This movie would be filmed in a hippie commune, and the cast and crew spent their downtime smoking cigarettes, weed and taking meth. Divine would play the character of Babs Johnson, a woman that claimed to be the filthiest person alive. In the movie she is forced to prove this by challengers called the Marbles. In a certain scene, the Marbles send a turd in a box to Babs as a birthday present. In order for this scene to work, Divine shit in the box the night before.


The ending scene, which is now infamous, was that of Babs, played by Divine, eating fresh dog shit. Divine later on told a reporter “I followed that dog around for three hours just zooming in on its asshole,” while waiting for it to shit, so that they could finish the scene. This became one of the most notable moments in Divine acting career. He later complained that people seriously thought he ran around doing that act all the time. He said “I’ve received boxes of dog shit - plastic dog shit. I have gone to parties where people just sit around and talk about dog shit because they think it’s what I want to talk about.” In reality, Divine said he was not a coprophile (which is someone that is excited by feces, to the point of using feces for sexual excitement), and only ate the shit that one time because it was in the script.


The movie premiered in 1972 at the Annual Baltimore Movie Festival to a sold out crowd for not the first showing, but the first three showings. It was picked up by a small company named New Line Cinema and was distributed to Ben Bareholtz, who owned the Elgin Theater in NYC, and had been promoting the midnight movie scene by showing trashy, low budget movies. This is where it's cult following began.


Even though Divine continued working on these movies with Waters, he kept it a secret from his parents, since he was relying on them financially. He charged them for expensive parties, bad checks, and repairs to his car. His parents finally figured it out and took away his access to their money. They were done paying for behavior they didn’t condone. In retaliation, Divine showed up at their house, took his two dogs, and left. He didn’t speak to them for the next 9 years. He did, however, send postcards from around the world to let them know he was ok, even though he never left a return address. His parents retired soon after and moved to Florida. Harris’ doctor said it would benefit him as he had muscular dystrophy.


The Divine Thespian

Divine would go on to star in theater. He had joined a drag troupe called The Cockettes. They starred in some shows which included Divine and Her Stimulating Studs, Divine Saves the World, Vice Palace, Journey to the Center of Uranus and The Heartbreak of Psoriasis.


He bought a house in Santa Monica and decked it out with expensive furnishings that reflected his expensive tastes. He went on to star in more of Waters films, and it wound up leading him to bigger roles. One of the biggest would be the film Hairspray in 1988. He played the character Edna Turnblad. He wanted to play the role of Tracy Turnblad as well, he was intrigued with playing both the mother and daughter. However, that role would be given to Ricki Lake.


The last film Divine would star in would be a comedy horror film called Out of the Dark. He played the character Detective Langella, a cussing policeman that was investigating the murder of a killer clown. This film would be released the year after Divine’s death. Divine became a well-known celebrity through the 80s and would do interviews on TV. He was on Late Night with David Letterman, Thicke of the Night and the Merv Griffin Show to promote his movies. He did have a very small music career during all of this but received no real success from it. Divine merchandise was aplenty. He had a book called The Simply Divine Cut-Out Doll Book. Andy Warhol even painted him at one point.


Divine Death

Three weeks after Hairspray was released nationwide, on March 7, 1988, Divine was staying at the Regency Plaza Suites Hotel in LA. He was set to tape an episode for Fox Network’s TV show, Married…with Children, for it’s second season.


He spent all day at the studio, and afterward, returned to his hotel where he met friends in the hotel’s restaurant for dinner. He then went to his hotel room and fell asleep. He passed away shortly before midnight while he was sleeping, at the young age of 42 of heart failure. He was found in the morning by a friend, who sat with his body for the next six hours with three more friends. They contacted the police, and Divine’s body was gathered and taken. His body was flown to Maryland and taken to Rucks’ Funeral Home in Townson. His funeral was held at Prospect Hill Cemetery, where a massive crowd of hundreds gathered to show their respects. John Waters gave a speech, and then the pallbearers carried his casket to his final resting place, which is next to his grandmother. Tons of flowers were left at his grave, including a wreath sent by Whoopi Goldberg, which had the statement “See what happens when you get good reviews” on it.


Fans have visited his grave and in what’s become a tradition, have left makeup, food and graffiti on his gravesite in memoriam. John Waters said that some fans have even had sex on his grave, which he feels Divine would have absolutely loved.


In the weeks after his funeral, the IRS seized most of Divine’s possessions and auctioned them off in hopes of recouping some of his unpaid taxes.


Divine Legacy

People Magazine described Divine as “The Goddess of Gross, The Punk Elephant, The Big Bad Mama of the Midnight Movies, and a Miss Piggy for the blissfully depraved” People loved Divine as much as Divine loved people, especially his LGBTQ community.


Divine would become the inspiration for one of my favorite Disney Villains…Ursula from The Little Mermaid, in 1989. He didn’t live long enough to voice the character, but being the inspiration for her looks is massive in its own right.


Because of Divine’s portrayal of Edna Turnblad in Hairspray, there have been numerous men that have gone on to star as female characters…including John Travolta in the newest adaptation of Hairspray.


Divine truly shaped the drag queen culture and left a legacy of an over-the-top stage personality and cult classic movies.


 

David:

Gary Plauche and Jeff Doucet
The moment Gary Plauche aimed to shoot Jeff Doucet.

Father’s Day is the one day a year when dads across the world dread possibly receiving another tie or even worse still having to BBQ for themselves on what is the day that we celebrate one’s father or influential father figures in our lives. Father’s Day is observed in over 110 countries worldwide but is generally celebrated on the third Sunday of June. In some Catholic countries in Europe, it has been celebrated on March 19th instead of aligning itself with Sain Jospeh’s Day, the patron saint of Fathers. He is also the saint of families and virgins, workers, and expectant mothers and unborn children. These Orthodox traditions can be traced back to at least 1508. Today March 19th in many countries is celebrated as International Men’s Day as well.


How we celebrate Father’s Day its roots begin with a mining accident. December 6, 1907, an explosion would rock Fairmont Coal Company’s No. 6 and No. 8 mines, killing 362 men and 250 of them being fathers.


This first unofficial Father's Day celebration would be held on July 5, 1908, after Grace Golden Clayton suggested to the pastor of her church to church sponsored the nation’s first event explicitly in honor of fathers, a Sunday sermon in memory of the 362 men who had died in the previous December’s explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah, but it was a one-time commemoration and not an annual holiday. July 5th was the closest date to her own father’s birthday that she lost in the mines.


“It was partly the explosion that set me to think how important and loved most fathers are, all those lonely children and the heartbroken wives and mothers, made orphans and widows in a matter of a few minutes. Oh, how sad and frightening to have no father, no husband, to turn to at such a sad time.” Clayton would tell The Fairmont Times later on.


Clayton’s event would only be known locally and wasn’t well known due to Independence Day celebrations the day before along with the death of the congregation members. Even though Grace Golden Clayton suggested a memorial for fathers to be a one-time event. It is believed that this is the first recording of the holiday in American History.


1909 is when the push for an actual holiday would be proposed by Sonora Smart Dodd in Spokane, Washington after hearing a sermon from Anna Jarvis, the creator of Mother’s Day. She would then tell her pastor fathers should have a day honoring them as well. Sonora would suggest having Father’s Day originally on June 5th which was her own father’s birthday as he raised six kids on his own and Sonora being one of them. Unfortunately, the pastors of Spokane felt they didn’t have enough time to prepare their sermons and it would be deferred to the third Sunday of June. This first actual celebration would be held at the Spokane YMCA, on June 19, 1910.


A bill in 1913 would be introduced to Congress for Father’s Day to have national recognition, President Woodrow Wilson wanted to make it official in 1916 and speak at a celebration of the holiday in Spokane but he was met with resistance from Congress as they feared it would become commercialized.


One historian was quoted on history.com about fathers “Many men scoffed at the holiday’s sentimental attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving, or they derided the proliferation of such holidays as a commercial gimmick to sell more products–often paid for by the father himself.” Today anywhere you look you can find a Father’s Day sale of some sort. So Congress was right after all. During the Great Depression, we wouldn’t see the commercialization of the holiday by retailers in an effort to make it a “second Christmas for men” with promos on neckties, hats, socks, pipes and tobacco, sporting goods, and greeting cards.


However, during the 20 and 30s, a pro parent’s day group led by radio performer Robert Sphere would gather in Central Park in NYC to be a public reminder “that both parents should be loved and respected together.” During WWII the holiday would take on more in supporting the Allied Forces and the war effort than just fathers themselves. After the war, it would be more of a national institution but not a federal holiday still. It would take the work of President Lydon Johnson to get Father’s Day to how we know it today. LBJ would sign an executive order stating that the third Sunday of June to celebrate Father's Day. Congress would finally pass in 1972 a bill officially making Father’s Day a national holiday. Six years later Sonora Smart Dodd, the woman who pushed for the holiday, would pass away at the age of 96.


But even through the years, it would take Father’s Day to become a national holiday, November 10, 1945, down in Baton Rouge, La Leon Gary Plauche is born. Most people knew him as Gary so for this episode, I will be doing the same. Gary Plauche would be honorably discharged from the Air Force at the rank of SSGT and be a cameraman for WBRZ news before he become a traveling salesman for heavy equipment.


He was described best by his family members, as a kind fun loving man that loved to crack jokes almost as cracking open beers and crawfish. Gary took great pride in his kids and coaching the sports teams they were on. He was also a bit of a prankster as well according to his son Mikey, but Gary hated pranks to be pulled on him and he would tell Mikey “I don’t get even: I get ahead.” Gary Leon Plauche has 3 other children as well.


When his sons Jody and his brothers started their next sports adventure in karate when they got word of a competitive team forming in their area. Here is where they would meet 24-year-old man by the name of Jeff Doucet, their instructor. With Karate instruction being his only source of income and no other friends or family in the area Jeff would end up living in the back of the dojo.


Jody remembers his dad crying and saying it's pitiful how he doesn't have anyone after Gary learned that he was living in the back of the dojo, and being the kind soul Gary was, he would bring Jeff into his home letting him shower and give him clean close and have them attend their family dinner they would do every week at Jody’s grandparents. After this Jeff would end up spending more time with the Plauche family after bringing the boys home after their karate lessons. Jeff Doucet would eventually move in with Gary after he and Judy separate to Gary developing a drinking problem.


In March of 1983, Jeff Doucet is driving Jody and himself home after practice and this is where Doucet would start testing the waters. On this particular trip home from practice Doucet asks Jody if he wanted to drive. Like any 10-year-old boy would want to drive a car, he climbed into his lap to steer, while Doucet would shift and operate the pedals of his Datsun 280z. Jody would remember while his turn driving around the block Doucet would put his hands in Jody’s lap. He would first maybe dismiss this as an accident after Doucet would remove his hands from his lap as soon as Jody would notice he was being touched. This was no accident, Doucet would continue to test the waters with Jody touching him again in the same manner when he would start steering the car again. Being only 10 years old Jody wasn’t sure what to do or how to tell someone knowing that what Doucet was doing is wrong.


From here it would escalate into much worse, even with a room full of kids in Houston, Tx on a Karate trip, Doucet would still take advantage of Jody in their hotel room performing oral sex on him. About a month later it would get even worse and Doucet would begin to start raping Jody up to two times a day, at times Doucet would send the rest of Jody’s team off to 7/11 for snacks but would tell Jody he would need to stay and do extra work with him.


That summer Jody would win first place in his skill group at a national tournament in Dallas, Tx. Jody’s parents would make arrangements for him to stay with his uncle Jeff Plauche. Jeff Plauche could see tell that Doucet was upset by this arrangement and doesn’t speak to anyone when he is dropping off Jody. When Doucet tells Jody goodbye his uncle Jeff would recall seeing Doucet kiss him on the mouth. He would tell his brother Gary that something isn't right with Jody's relationship with Doucet. Gary would dismiss this and stand by Doucet, but his brother was animate that something isn’t right because he doesn’t even kiss his own kids on the mouth. Over the next six months, Jody would be raped daily by Doucet sometimes up to twice a day. Jody would start to make up excuses as to why he didn’t want to go to Karate anymore trying to get his abuse to stop. Doucet would show up at times to “drag him off” to lessons and June his mother would allow this because she would think coaches knew what was best.


Even still Jody is scared to say anything because he had overheard his father say in the past “If anybody ever touches my kid, I’ll kill him.”


Feb 19, 1984, at 9 AM. Doucet would pick up Jody from his mother’s to help him with an errand and look at carpet, they will be back in 15 minutes, I don’t know about you but I would question why you would need a child’s help to look at carpet. After Doucet gets Jody into his car Doucet informs Jody we aren't going to look at carpet we are going to California. One of the things that Jody brings up in an interview I listened to is that Doucet was about to stand trial for writing bad checks and was fleeing to California to avoid prosecution.


Hours have gone by at this point and Judy is now in panic mode and calls the police about her now kidnapped son at the same time Doucet is driving to Port Arthur, Tx where he and Jody, board a bus for LA after Doucet shaves off his beard and mustache and dying Jody’s hair black trying to pass him off as his own son.


Jody never felt like he was in any real danger with Doucet in Ca as he would end up taking Jody to Disneyland at one point. Almost out of money Doucet would try and proposition Jody to allow men to sleep with him for money, and Jody would absolutely refuse the proposition. Doucet would allow Jody to make phone calls to his mother to let him know he was ok.


Feb 28, nine days later at the Samoa Hotel in Anaheim. Doucet calls Judy and has no idea that this phone call is being traced by the FBI when they locate him, the next thing Judy would hear is banging on the door could only hear the phone hitting the floor and "BACK, BACK, Police...Get up against the wall" before the phone goes dead. It wouldn't be until an hour later that Jody and Gary find out their son is safe and Doucet is in police custody and arrested for suspicion of aggravated kidnapping.


Being a victim of sexual assault Jody is taken to a hospital to be examined and have a rape kit administered which came back positive 12 days later.


With Jody now 11 years old he makes a decision to lie about Doucet’s sexual assault when he was questioned, he made this decision because he knew they would find evidence but he felt that Jeff would get out of jail and come after him without it. And his plan was to tell Jeff I didn’t tell on you, you got yourself caught. He waited until he would be confronted by law enforcement about why he lied.


The next day Jody Plauche is flown home to Louisiana to be reunited with his family 10 days later after he was kidnapped. Back home with his family Jody Plauche would do the best he can to reclaim his life before. Jody would try to dye his hair back to its original color and go back to school. He would say that that first day back at school when he entered the gym it was silent and everyone was looking at him due to everyone knowing he was kidnapped. Finding his circle of friends they would all be silent not knowing what to say and he would break the silence “What? Why are you all looking at me like I was kidnapped.”


When the results of Jody’s rape kit came back positive, Mike Barnett of Baton Rogue police and a long-time friend of the Plauches would tell Gary and June that the tests came positive. Gary would because enraged saying “I’m going to kill that son of a bitch” whereas June would do what mothers do best and be calm on the outside but have a full range of emotions on the inside. Her calmness Jody would find comforting and it allowed him to open up more about what had happened to him.


March 16, 1984, Doucet is flown back to Louisiana, this is where Doucet would tell Baton Rouge Detectives he was molested as a child and assaulted multiple children and can’t remember how many he had in the past.


Days prior to this Gary would spend days at The Cotton Club which is known for local news reporters meeting up after work. Where a former colleague of WBRZ news just happens to know when Doucet is being flown back in at 9:08 pm.


Plauche would put himself on a bank of payphones wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses to try and hide his identity knowing he could easily be recognized by the news crew in the terminal.


As the news crews are taping Doucet being escorted through the terminal and as they walk past Gary he pulls a .38 snub-nosed pistol and shoots Doucet at point-blank range in the head. Barnett would recognize Gary and say “Why Gary why?” loudly. With tears running down his face he would only say to him “If somebody did it to your kid, you’d do it too.” Jody would have mixed emotions about hearing about his father shooting Doucet. His wife Judy would go on to say when she found out what Gary had done and never asked him why he did it she already knew. “The least you could have done was let me drive.” Doucet would actually die the next day when Jody finds out that Jeff is dead and has mixed feelings about it.”I didn’t know how to feel, I considered Jeff a friend a friend with a problem that you wish he could quit.”


While awaiting trial Gary would end up telling his attorney, Foxy Sanders while in jail on charges of second-degree murder, “I don’t want him to do it to other kids” Sanders would also say that Gary said the voice of Christ had compelled him to pull the trigger. Even though he killed a child molester, Gary still committed murder and had to be put on trial.


Sanders was adamant that Gary wouldn’t spend a single day locked up once the world learned what Doucet had done to Jody. In his defense, Sanders argued that Gary was in a psychotic state from Jody being kidnapped and wasn’t capable of distinguishing right from wrong. The people of Baton Rouge didn’t agree with this and he was in the right mind when he killed Doucet.


Gary Plauche had huge support from his community and nationally. From Jambalaya dinner fundraisers put on by family friends to keep the family afloat to a defense fund that totals 100k. Even with pleading no contest to manslaughter.


Even with the initial charges being second-degree murder, Gary Plauche would plead no contest to manslaughter. He was sentenced to seven years suspended sentence, with five years probation and 300 hours of community service, which he completed in 1989. After his trial, he would be asked if he had any regrets. “ I regret being put in a situation where I had to kill another human being but no I don’t regret killing him, the only regret I have is not gut-shotting him 3 or 4 times so he suffered before he died.”


Jody Plauche would turn his trauma into something beautiful like his father saw beauty in everything, and wrote a book titled “Why Gary Why?” and works as a sexual assault survivor counselor telling his story across the country helping other survivors and helping parents and guardians recognize the signs of sexual abuse in children. He also points out that sexual abuse comes from those trusted by the family more so than strangers.


Leon Gary Plauche would pass away in 2014 from a stroke. And to his last days on earth, he would still say if they would dig him up I would do it again.



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