This photo shows a dramatic situation early in the filming of John Waters’ Polyester. It was taken in the basement of the home on Heavitree Hill in the Baltimore suburb that was the Fishpaw residence, Divine’s home in the movie. The production office was in the partially finished basement. Lots of players with a lot on their mind.
From left to right, Casting Director, Pat Moran, offers a tired stare. Line Producer, Robert Maier, clenches an unlit cigarette between his lips and is probably punching numbers into a calculator. Divine leans in for a better look- could it be his paycheck? Delores DeLuxe, from the Art Department, emphatically cajoles a stone-faced Maier. Is she grabbing his arm, trying to get his attention? Two bit part actors, who are good friends of Waters watch intently. Drinking from a cup in the back is the film’s editor Charles Roggero, who doesn’t know that Polyester will be his third and last movie with Waters. An unknown visitor completes the tableau.
This photo was taken in late 1980, well before computers when low-budget filmmaking was a blizzard of paperwork . Working with a $300,000 budget on John’s first 35mm movie made for many intense meetings like this one. It is a rare photo of Divine out of costume and very serious indeed. I love the dramatic wedge composition and 3D feel. Could be a Caravaggio painting.
Photo copyright by George Stover, used with permission.
Read about Robert Maier’s fifteen years working with John Waters in the new book “Low Budget Hell: Making Underground Movies with John Waters.” Available from Amazon.com and booksellers around the world.