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Outrageous! Pink Flamingos

Pink Flamingos

This is the 5th post in a series covering the most outrageous moments in underground film history. You can follow the entire series here.

Film: Pink Flamingos
Director: John Waters
Year: 1972

On the one hand, choosing only one moment in Pink Flamingos as a “most outrageous” moment is like trying to pick out the most offensive grain of sand on the beach. But, on the other hand, it’s almost mandatory to zero in on the film’s coup de grace ending.

Pink Flamingos is so overall offensive that it should have been arrested for assault and battery on audiences when it was released to theaters back in 1972. It only got away with its crimes against humanity as it snuck in through the alley and only played on the midnight movie circuit. That was the only time of the day when an audience could actually stomach it.

Flash forward nearly 40 years later and the film is still a grotesque, never-to-be-matched masterpiece of puerile art no matter how many imitators and wanna-be’s still come along. That’s because the offensiveness is put on display with such a totally engaging good-natured cheerfulness that it’s all absolutely hilarious.

From the egg-eating lady who sits in a crib to turkey necks dangling from male appendages to the homemade artificial insemination to the chicken-slaughtering erotica, Pink Flamingos is a non-stop catalog of depravity.

But nothing — absolutely nothing — tops the final scene where the star of the film, the plus-sized drag queen Divine, hungrily snaps up a fresh pile of dog excrement off the pavement, shoves it into her mouth and gives the camera a big, literal shit-eating grin.

This is not CGI. This is not a special effect. John Waters actually convinced a 300-pound transvestite to eat dog poop. According to Waters in his autobiography Shock Value, Divine actually never balked at the outrageous request. However, afterward, fearing she might get ill, Divine called a local hospital and claimed her “retarded son” had accidentally ingested feces. Although a nurse said “the son” could get worms, Divine never suffered any ill effects.

Pink Flamingos is available on DVD: Amazon | Netflix| Facets

Underground Film Feedback (2 comments)

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  • Olga says:

    What a disgusting movie. I still want to see it, though, out of curiosity.

  • Alana says:

    The only two movies I love by John Waters & his filthy crew are Female Trouble and Polyester. The ones made prior to that are like a horrible acid trip you never want to re-live. And that’s saying a lot coming from me, because I have a very dark sense of humor, but I find the older John Waters movies simply aim to disgust the audience, without humour or even a story line. A real, live chicken gets raped to death in Pink Flamingos. Not entertaining at all. Now they’re re-zee leasing Multiple Maniacs? Good luck with that. I guess John Waters need some retirement funds…