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Desperate Living (1977)

John Waters followed his two works of “accidental art”, Pink Flamingos (1972) and Female Trouble (1974), with this lurid ensemble melodrama – his most “serious” work.

Peggy Gravel (Mink Stole) is a highly strung, bourgeois housewife whose quest for self-actualisation and liberation leads her to a fascistic royal kingdom ruled by the very pink and vulgar Queen Carlotta (Edith Massey).

Having just been released from a mental hospital, Peggy comes home to what she perceives as a plot to kill her by her husband and children. With the help of her “petite” 400-pound maid, Griszelda, she sits on her husband’s face and suffocates him.

Fearing the consequences of their actions, they both flee by car only to be pulled over by a raunchy cop who prefers sniffing women’s underpants to making arrests.

Having got a noseful of their “delights”, he recommends that the women hideout in a town called Mortvillewhere only criminals can live under the benevolent dictatorship of Queen Carlotta (Edith Massey) and her sex slaves.

The villagers are commanded to walk and dress backwards, while sex changes, rabies and auto-castration all work their magic into the plot.

Peggy applies for a job as a biochemist working for Queen Carlotta who wishes to spread rabies among the rabble.

A woman’s picture par bizarre excellence, the film may look cheap and cluttered, but it comes with a poignant ending that is endearingly apocalyptic.

Peggy Gravel
Mink Stole
Queen Carlotta
Edith Massey
Muffy St Jacques
Liz Renay
Mole McHenry
Susan Lowe
Princess Coo-Coo
Mary Vivian Pearce
Grizelda Brown
Jean Hill
Bosley Gravel Jr
Brook Blake
Beth Gravel
Karen Gerwig
Flipper
Cookie Mueller
Kid
Jay Allan
Bathroom pervert
Pat Moran

Director
John Waters