1977 / 90 min. /
Director: John Waters
Cast: Liz Renay, Mink Stole, Susan Lowe |

This Filthy John Waters Retrospective: DESPERATE LIVING

CONTENT WARNING: Desperate Living contains scenes that may be upsetting or triggering to some viewers.

This December at The Royal Cinema, we’re getting down and dirty with a curated selection of some of John Waters most iconic works for a six-part retrospective! Prepare yourself for some of the most downright filthy films ever created, with a video introduction from the Pope of Trash himself!

CO-PRESENTED BY BLACK GOLD – Celebrating the best of black cinema and its heroes from then ’til now at The Royal Cinema!

Are you ready to enter Mortville?

Mink Stole stars as Peggy Gravel, a neurotic housewife who was just released back home after a long stay at a mental institution. She suffers another mental breakdown, and together with her maid Grizelda Brown (Jean Hill), they kill Peggy’s husband after Grizelda sits on him and smothers him. The two go on the lam, and after encountering a particularly frisky cop dressed in women’s clothing, they are delivered an ultimatum: either go to jail, or be exiled to Mortville, a disgusting settlement run by the tyrannical Queen Carlotta (Edith Massey) and her daughter Princess Coo-Coo.

Desperate Living is a veritable parade of lunacy from beginning to end, offering one of the most frenzied and consistently funny performances by Dreamlander legend Mink Stole (seriously, we don’t know how she didn’t lose her voice from all the screaming). Desperate Living is a staple in Waters’ early works with some of the nastiest poor taste jokes you can find in a film which are definitely not for the weak of heart. It’s worth the price of admission alone just to watch Edith Massey as the inimitable Queen Carlotta “interacting” with her nude guards.

Sponsored by: Eyesore Cinema!

A word from BLACK GOLD programmer, Sarah-Tai Black:
“As for black heroes, Jean Hill is an absolute godsend for black femmes trying to find to reflections of themselves – most times, to no avail – in trash cinema. Waters serves up Grizelda ‘I don’t want no white man looking at my Tampax’ Brown with a welcome dose of murderous girth and absolutely 100% no bullshit. What else can we say? He’s always been one for women’s bodily autonomy.”

Upcoming Screenings:


None Currently Scheduled