Waters' biographer, John G. Ives, describes Desperate Living as a revisionist fairy tale. To me, it's his dyke movie.
The story centers around insane housewife Peggy Gravel (Mink Stole) and her obese maid Grizelda (Jean Hill). After murdering Peggy's husband in a fit of rage, the two women seek refuge in the mythical town of Mortville, a town full of criminals who've fled the straight world.
They take up residence together in a back-woods shack owned by butch dyke Mole McHenry (Susan Lowe) and her glamourous lover Muffy St. Jacques (played by burlesque legend and gun moll Liz Renay). But Mortville is ruled by the cruel and self-serving Queen Carlotta (Edith Massey), who humiliates and tortures her citizens. Peggy, being insane and all, eventually usurps Carlotta's benevolent daughter, Princess Coo-Coo (Mary Vivian Pearce), helping the Queen with her plot to poison Mortville's populace. Revolution ensues, but not until after Mole wins the lottery and gets a penis implant!
By the time I made Desperate Living, the era of midnight movies was over, so at the time it was the least successful of all my films. Weirdly enough, it now does really well on video and college campuses. And I'm not quite sure why. - John Waters
Note: Tickets to John Waters talk and VIP Reception on June 24 will be available for purchase at this venue.