Female Trouble: Wikis


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Female Trouble

US release poster
Directed by John Waters
Produced by John Waters
Written by John Waters
Starring Divine
David Lochary
Mary Vivian Pearce
Mink Stole
Edith Massey
Cookie Mueller
Susan Walsh
Michael Potter
Music by John Waters
Bob Harvey
Cinematography John Waters
Editing by John Waters
Charles Roggero
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release date(s) October 4, 1974
Running time Original cut
97 min.
16mm cut
92 min.
Theatrical cut
89 min.
Country  United States
Language English
Budget $25,000

Female Trouble (1974) is a American comedy film written, produced, and directed by John Waters starring Divine, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Mink Stole, Edith Massey, Michael Potter, Cookie Mueller, and Susan Walsh.[1]

The film is dedicated to Manson Family member Charles "Tex" Watson. Waters' prison visits to Watson inspired the "crime is beauty" theme of the film, and Waters includes a wooden toy helicopter that Watson made for him in the film's opening credits.



1960 Baltimore. Juvenile delinquent Dawn Davenport (Divine), a regular troublemaker at her all girls school, receives a failing Geography grade and a sentence of writing lines for fighting, lying, cheating, and eating in class.

On Christmas morning, Dawn fails to get the cha-cha heel shoes she wants for Christmas. After breaking into a violent rage and pushing her mother into the Christmas tree, Dawn runs away from home and, while hitchhiking, gets picked up by Earl Peterson (also Divine), a fat man driving an Edsel station wagon. Peterson drives Davenport to a dump, where they have sex. When she later finds herself pregnant and demands money from him, he tells her, "Go fuck yourself", which Divine had indeed done by playing both roles.

Dawn gives birth to her daughter Taffy and works as a waitress, go-go dancer, hooker, and petty thief - working the latter two jobs with delinquent friends Chicklette (Susan Walsh) and Concetta (Cookie Mueller) through the mid '60s. 1968, Taffy is now eight years old and driving her mother to violence (beating her with a car antenna). Dawn complains to Chicklette and Concetta about the demands of motherhood, and they suggest she cheer herself up by getting her hair done by a stylist named Gator (Michael Potter), who lives with his morbidly obese aunt, Ida (Edith Massey) who constantly pleads with him to "turn queer".

Dawn becomes a client of Gator's at the Lipstick Beauty Salon, owned by the fascists Donald (David Lochary) and Donna Dasher (Mary Vivian Pearce). Dawn and Gator marry, but five years later, in 1974, their marriage is complicated by the fact that Taffy (Mink Stole), now fourteen years old, hates Gator. When Taffy catches her mother and stepfather having sex, Gator suggests she join them in bed, to which Taffy replies, "I wouldn't suck your lousy dick if I was suffocating and there was oxygen in your balls!"

Fed up with Gator's infidelities and his penchant for reading magazines while penetrating her with tools such as hammers and pliers, Dawn leaves Gator and starts divorce proceedings. She seeks solace at the Lipstick Beauty Salon, where the diabolical Dashers ask her to be a "glamorous guinea pig" for a "beauty experiment": they want to test Jean Genet's theory that "crime equals beauty". At their behest, Dawn performs several crimes including knocking her daughter unconscious with a chair after a fight which almost embarrasses Dawn. Soon Ida bursts into Dawn's house and disfigures her face with acid, after Gator leaves to start applying for a job in the auto industry in Michigan.

Dawn lands in the hospital and though hideously disfigured, the Dashers and her other friends convince her she's pretty and discourage her from having reconstructive plastic surgery. After leaving the hospital, Dawn returns to find her home redecorated by the Dashers, who've kidnapped and confined Ida to an oversized bird cage. At this point Dawn amputates Ida's hand. Taffy comes home and after becoming unhinged at the sight of a grown woman in a bird cage with a bloody stump, pleads with her mother to reveal the identity of her real father, which she reluctantly does.

Taffy finds her father living in a dilapidated house and drinking excessively. She stabs him to death with a butcher knife after he tries to sexually assault her. When Taffy returns home and announces she is joining the Hare Krishna movement, Dawn warns her she will kill her if she does.

Dawn, who now has grotesque hair, make-up and outfits provided by the Dashers, creates a nightclub act. Backstage on opening night, Taffy appears after freeing Ida from the bird cage. Upon discovering that Taffy is now a Hare Krishna, Dawn strangles her to death while the Dashers and their minions cheer her on.

Dawn performs her nightclub act, which includes jumping on a trampoline and wallowing in a playpen filled with dead fish. She revels in the ideal that beauty is an art form born from crime:

I framed Leslie Bacon! I called the heroin hot line on Abbie Hoffman! I bought the gun that Bremer used to shoot Wallace! I had an affair with Juan Corona! I blew Richard Speck, and I'm so fuckin’ beautiful I can't stand it myself !!!

She then yells out, "Who wants to be famous, Who wants to die for art?", and commences shooting into the crowd. Several people are wounded and others are trampled while fleeing the scene. Police allow the Dashers to leave after Donald and Donna claim they're upright citizens caught in a bloody rampage. Dawn flees into a forest but is soon arrested by the police.

At Dawn's trial, the Dashers are granted "total immunity" by the judge in exchange for their testimony against her. They claim to be shocked by Dawn's crime spree, although they engineered and encouraged it. Ida testifies against Dawn for kidnapping her and amputating her hand, when actually the Dashers kidnapped Ida and told Dawn to cut off her hand (even providing her with the axe). After Dawn is found guilty and sentenced to die in the electric chair, the Dashers are seen paying Ida for her testimony.

In jail awaiting execution, Dawn has a lesbian affair with another prisoner (Elizabeth Coffey). Dawn tells her lover being executed will make her famous, "like winning an Academy Award". Indeed, when a delirious Dawn is strapped to the electric chair, she gives a speech as if she were winning an Oscar.

I'd like to thank all the wonderful people that made this great moment in my life come true. My daughter Taffy, who died in order to further my career. My friends Chicklette and Concetta who should be here with me today. All the fans who died so fashionably and gallantly at my nightclub act. And especially all those wonderful people who were kind enough to read about me in the newspapers and watch me on the television news shows. Without all of you, my career could never have gotten this far. It was you that I burn for and it is you that I will die for! Please remember, I love every fucking one of you!

After receiving a fatal electric shock, Dawn is immortalized as her distorted face is shown in freeze frame with the end credits rolling over it.


Alternate versions

The initial 16 mm release of the film which was shown at colleges ran 92 minutes. However, when the film was blown up to 35mm and shown theatrically, it was cut to 89 minutes. This version was the only version seen in the United States for many years. However, a recent restoration was done of the original cut, which runs 97 minutes. (It has played at this 97-minute length in Europe, however, since its initial release.)

The 97-minute version was shown only in selected theaters and was included in an out-of-print DVD set paired with Pink Flamingos (Female Trouble is still available on DVD as a single disc and as part of a DVD box set, Very Crudely Yours, John Waters). This version also has a soundtrack remixed in stereo surround. The 97-minute version contains some additional scenes, including the chase through the woods, as well as an appearance by Sally Turner, the Elizabeth Taylor look-alike customer in the Lipstick Beauty Salon. (Turner served as Divine's double in the junkyard sex scene between Dawn Davenport and Earl Peterson.)

Production notes

  • The lyrics to the title song "Female Trouble", sung by Divine, were written by Waters and set to a pre-existing piece of music.
  • The unique production design is by Dreamlander Vincent Peranio, who created Davenport's apartment in a condemned suite above a friend's store.
  • Divine chose to perform his own stunts, the most difficult of which involved doing flips on a trampoline during his nightclub act. Waters took Divine to a YMCA, where he took lessons until the act was perfected.
  • The birth scene was saved until the end of shooting, when Dreamlander Susan Lowe gave birth to a son. The umbilical cord was fashioned out of prophylactics filled with liver, while the baby (Ramsey McLean) was doused in fake blood. The scene created quite a scandal for Lowe's mother-in-law, who arrived on the set in a state of confusion.[2 ]
  • Although Dawn Davenport received the death penalty at the end of the film, capital punishment in the United States was suspended from 1972 to 1976 due to the Supreme Court's ruling in the case of Furman v. Georgia.
  • On the 2004 DVD Director's Special Comments, Waters states that the original working title of the film was Rotten Mind, Rotten Face.[2 ]


  1. ^ "Female Trouble". IMDb. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072979/. Retrieved 2008-09-12.  
  2. ^ a b John Waters. (2004) (DVD). FemaleTrouble DVD Special Ed.. New Line Cinema.  

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Female Trouble is a 1974 film about a spoiled schoolgirl who runs away from home, gets pregnant while hitchhiking, and ends up as a fashion model for a pair of beauticians who like to photograph women committing crimes.

Written and directed by John Waters.
Nice girls don't wear cha-cha heels.taglines


Aunt Ida

  • The world of the heterosexual is a sick and boring life.
  • Queers are just better. I'd be so proud if you was a fag.
  • Fucker! Pig fucker! Hetero! Filthy hetero stink-shit!
  • [to Taffy] And remember, my offer still stands. If you get tired of being a Hare Krishna, you come live with me and be a lesbian!

Dawn Davenport

  • Where did you get this crap, Taffy? I told you to spend that money I gave you on a cute outfit, but ooooh-noooo! As soon as my back is turned, you run right out and spend it on props for your morbid little games! Well, I want it cleaned up pronto! We're having guests for dinner and I want you looking as P-R-E-T-T-Y as humanly possible!
  • You're a pain, Taffy. A pain in my big asshole!
  • I'm afraid I'm going to have to break the news to you, but I've thrown Gator out and started divorce proceedings. I don't want to seem overly bitter, but I want you to destroy all of his belongings.
  • Davenport. Dawn Davenport! I'm a thief and a shitkicker, and, uh, I'd like to be famous.
  • I've DONE everything a mother can do: I've locked her in her room, I've beat her with the car aerial. Nothing changes her. It's HARD being a loving mother!

Taffy Davenport

  • Writing a book, hippie? Why don't you go listen to some folk music and give me a break!
  • If I have to eat with Gator, I'll spit food!
  • You're not my daddy, you disgusting hippie pig! And I wouldn't get near a bed that had been defiled by the likes of you two! I'd sooner jump in a river of snot!


  • Butterfly: Beauty, beauty, look at you, I wish to God I had it, too.
  • Prison Matron: OK, Lez-beans! I caught ya! Bumpin' pussies is a violation of jail rules!


Earl Peterson: [answering phone] Hello?
Dawn Davenport: Is Earl Peterson there? Earl Peterson! This is Dawn Davenport. Dawn Davenport... you made love to me Christmas morning.
[Earl gasps]
Dawn Davenport: Well I just called to tell you I'm pregnant and I want money.
Earl Peterson: You stole my wallet, you fat bitch!
Dawn Davenport: So what if I did? I want money!
Earl Peterson: You'll never get any money from me, cow! Just cause you got them big udders don't mean you're somethin' special. Get the hook! Go fuck yourself for all I care. YEAH! Go fuck yourself! [hangs up]
Dawn Davenport: Hello? Hello? UGH!

Concetta: [consoling Dawn] Just get your hair done. That's what I always do when I get depressed.
Dawn Davenport: Maybe I will.
Concetta: I'll tell ya, the Lipstick Beauty Salon is the best. They only let, well, you know, 'special' girls in. You have to audition to even get your hair done!
Chicklette: AND, there's this guy that does hair there, MMMM MMMM. I'd suck the socks off him in a minute.
Concetta: Yeah, Gator's his name, and you know what? He lives right next door.
Dawn Davenport: Wonder what HIS story is? Maybe he's a... CHUBBY CHASER!

Dribbles: How's your little girl? Why don't you bring her in here more often?
Sally: Why? So you can undress her with your eyes? For Christ's sake, she's only six years old.
Dribbles: I know, but I just like to play with her. I wish I was a little girl.
Sally: Well, throw a goddamn penny in a fountain and make a goddamn wish and maybe it'll come true.

Taffy as a child: Why can't I go to school? Why can't I have friends?
Dawn Davenport: You can't go to school because I said so. I won't have you nagging me for lunch money and whining for help on your homework. There is no need to know about presidents, wars, numbers or science. Just listen to me and you'll learn. And no little friends over here, repeating rhymes, asking flippant questions, and talking in those nagging baby voices. Can't you just sit here and look out into the air? Isn't that enough? Do you always have to badger me for attention?

Wink: I'm getting a hard-on! Beauty always gives me a hard-on!
Donna Dasher: Aim it the other way then, Wink. You know how I detest organs. Beauty has absolutely nothing to do with that WORD, that THING you have hanging there like an obscene pickle. Spare me your anatomy.

Aunt Ida: Oh, Ernie! Have another pretzel for Chrissakes! Wait 'til you meet my little Gator. You two are gonna fall right in love.
Ernie: My dear, I hope so. Are you sure he's gay?
Aunt Ida: Well I just use common sense. I mean, if they're smart they're queer, and if they're stupid they're straight, right Earnie? Are you sure you won't have another pretzel?
Ernie: I'm sure, miss Thing, I'm sure. Pretzels give you plaque.

School snitch: Mr. Wineburger, Dawn Davenport is eating a meatball sandwich right out in class. AND she's been passing notes!!
Dawn Davenport: I was not eating!
Concetta: I got a knife here in my pocketbook and I'm gonna cut you up after class.

Dawn Davenport: I'd like to set fire to this dump!
Concetta: Just 'cause we're pretty everybody's jealous!

Dawn Davenport: WHAT are THESE? [Dawn discovers the shoe box under the Christmas tree does not contain cha cha heels]
Mrs. Davenport: Those are your new shoes, Dawn!
Dawn Davenport: Those aren't the right kind, I told you cha cha heels, black ones!
Mr. Davenport: Nice girls don't wear cha cha heels!
Dawn Davenport: Gimmie those presents, I'll never wear those ugly shoes! I told you the kind I wanted! You ruined my Christmas! [stomps on all of the Christmas presents]
Mrs. Davenport: Please, Dawn! Not on Christmas!
Dawn Davenport: Get off me, you ugly witch! [pushes mother into the Christmas tree, knocking Mrs. Davenport and the tree down]
Mr. Davenport: Dawn Davenport, are you crazy, look at your mother!
Dawn Davenport: Get off me... LAY OFF ME! I hate you, fuck you! Fuck you both, you awful people! You're not my parents! I hate you, I hate this house, and I hate Christmas!
Mrs. Davenport: Not on Christmas! Not on Christmas!

Taffy Davenport: What's that camera for?
Donald Dasher: To take pictures of your mother.
Taffy Davenport: HER?
Donald Dasher: We happen to think she's quite beautiful.
Taffy Davenport: You must be cockeyed, then!

Dawn Davenport: You want your spaghetti with or without cheese?
Donna Dasher: I'll have two chicken breasts please.
Dawn Davenport: Well, uh, we're not having that, we're having spaghetti.
Donna Dasher: I couldn't possibly eat spaghetti, do I look Italian?
Donald Dasher: We rarely eat any form of noodle. But I'll take a small portion to be polite, with cheese, please.
Donna Dasher: I'll have an extremely large glass of ice-water.

Gator: Hello, Aunt Ida.
Aunt Ida: Gator Nelson, what a coincidence! There's somebody here dying to meet you! Gater, this is Ernie; Ernie, this is Gater!
Ernie: Hi, stud!
Gator: Get him outta here!
Aunt Ida: Gator Nelson, you be polite to Ernie! He wants a date with you!
Gator: Well I don't want a date with him. I came to say goodbye Aunt Ida, I'm moving to Detroit.
Aunt Ida: WHAT?
Gator: I want to be near the auto industry, I'm sick of hairdressing and besides, Dawn had me fired.
Ernie: I can get ya a job in the baths, Mary!
Gator: Look, fucker, take a walk!
Ernie: Well...!
Gator: Look, you better beat it before I punch your fuckin' face out that window.
Ernie: No gay knocks for me, Ida! At best, all you've got is trade.
Aunt Ida: Oh Gator! Ernie's your type! Move in with me again, and we'll get you a job as a female impersonator!
Ernie: His hands are too big, dahling. BYE, Gator. It was... FAB meeting you!
Gator: FUCK you, you're worse than my wife!

Dribbles: How's your little girl? Why don't you bring her in here more often?
Sally: Why? So you can undress her with your eyes? For Christ's sake, she's only six years old.
Dribbles: I know, but I just like to play with her. I wish I was a little girl.
Sally: Well, throw a goddamn penny in a fountain and make a goddamn wish and maybe it'll come true.

Donald Dasher: We are always curious as to what drew you here to "Le Lipstique".
Stripper: Well I heard all the strippers come here, and I got sick of my old salon.
Donna Dasher: And supposing we become sick of you?
Stripper: Well, I had hoped that wouldn't happen...!
Donna Dasher: Well, I think it IS happening. It's hard to describe, but when I look into your face, I pick up the distinct sensation of NAUSEA.
Stripper: Hey, WAIT A MINUTE...!

Gator: Hey Taffy, baby, come suck your daddy's dick.
Taffy: I wouldn't suck your lousy dick if I was suffocating and there was oxygen in your balls!

Taffy: [showing up at Superstar nightclub dressed in saffron robes] Hare Krishna, mother!
Dawn Davenport: You've finally done it, haven't you! Embarrassed me on my night of FAME! [grabs her] No reporters saw you did they?!
[Taffy shakes off her mother's hands]
Dawn Davenport: Look at you, I could vomit!
Donna Dasher: Remember Alice Crimmins.

Concetta: Hey there, Taffy.
Dawn Davenport: She's been a hideous little girl today, she was about to get a good whippin'!
Chicklet: She's so cute.
Taffy as a child: Who are you, UGLY?
Dawn Davenport: You know who they are!
Taffy as a child: I've never seen THEM before.
Dawn Davenport: Oh, TAFFY.
Chicklet: I just saw you yesterday, Taffy. Come sit here with your Aunt Chicklet!
[Taffy bites Chicklette's arm]
Chicklet: OH MY GOD, this kid's BITIN me!
Dawn Davenport: This is ridiculous.

Taffy Davenport: Daddy? Daddy? It's me Taffy!
Earl Peterson: I don't know nobody named Taffy. I'm busy right now.
Taffy Davenport: Oh, please let me in, Daddy! Open the door!
Earl Peterson: Ah, fucking shut up! Alright already!
Taffy Davenport: [jumping into his arms] Daddy, it's me Taffy, your long, lost little girl!
Earl Peterson: Hey, get off! I ain't your daddy! I ain't even married!
Taffy Davenport: Oh, I know that, but you're my daddy alright. My mother told me. My mother is Dawn Davenport.
Earl Peterson: Yeah, you can stay here awhile. Want a drink?
Taffy Davenport: NO! You don't even believe me, do you?
Earl Peterson: Yeah, yeah. I'll be your sugar daddy, how about that?
[belches in Taffy's face]
Earl Peterson: I'm feelin' a little drink, so don't mind me.
Taffy Davenport: Shitface! You're my father! Doesn't that mean anything to you?
Earl Peterson: Who'd you say your mother was?
Taffy Davenport: Dawn Davenport. You know her.
Earl Peterson: What does she look like?
Taffy Davenport: Fat. Very fat.
Earl Peterson: Yeah, yeah. I maybe remember.
Taffy Davenport: Oh, daddy! I knew you would! Mother's been awful to me. For years, I've suffered. Please let me stay with you. I won't be any trouble. I'll help you clean and we can go out together and maybe... maybe you can buy me some regular clothes.
Earl Peterson: Can you fuck as good as your mother?
Taffy Davenport: [slaps Earl across the face] PIG! You goddamn slimy pig!
Earl Peterson: Hey, little Taffy, can you stretch like taffy?
Taffy Davenport: [struggling] Fuck you.
Earl Peterson: Hey, you spilled my drink! [pulls out his syphillitic penis] Daddy Earl's got a little present for you. [vomits on Taffy] I'm sorry... I been drinking.
[Taffy sees a butcher knife and begins stabbing Earl in the chest]
Taffy Davenport: OH! OH! [throws knife down and runs from house]


  • Nice girls don't wear cha-cha heels.
  • She has a lot of problems
  • A high point in low taste.


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