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Hairspray (1988)

Long-time cult film director John Waters burst into the mainstream with this cheerfully zany spoof of 1960s TV teen dance shows.

Ricki Lake may be better known for her weird and wonderful US chat show (that ran until 2004), but it was director Waters who launched her into stardom with this kitsch classic.


Waters toned down his usual excesses, but his mischievous black sense of humour was still very much to the fore in this affectionate salute to Z-grade teen movies.

Lake is the fun-loving Tracy Turnblad, who becomes the new teen dancing queen on The Corny Collins Show much to the horror of her wealthy, snobbish parents, who want their daughter to shine.

Tracy is overweight, opinionated, always in trouble at school for “hairdo violations” and looks just like her mother, Edna (Divine). A rebel with a cause, Tracy outmanoeuvres teen queen Amber Von Tussle (Colleen Fitzpatrick) and eventually wins viewers hearts with her radical social views, her new dances and her revolutionary hairdos.


The eclectic cast – which ranges from Waters’ regulars Divine (in his last movie) and Mink Stole, through to Debbie Harry, Sonny Bono, Pia Zadora and former Cars singer Ric Ocasek – scored big, and the soundtrack dredged up some brilliant old toons, with oldies both golden and mouldy.

Tracy Turnblad
Ricki Lake
Edna Turnblad/Arvin Hodgepile
Franklin von Tussle
Sonny Bono
Motormouth Maybell
Ruth Brown
Amber von Tussle
Colleen Fitzpatrick
Velma von Tussle
Deborah Harry
Link Larkin
Michael St Gerard
Penny Pingleton
Leslie Ann Powers
Clayton Prince
Wilbur Turnblad
Jerry Stiller
Beatnik girl
Pia Zadora

John Waters