Hairspray | Chicago Reader


John Waters's 1988 musical comedy set in 1962 Baltimore represented a good many firsts for the celebrated underground “bad taste” writer-director-producer: his biggest budget, his first period foray, his first PG-rated movie, and his first real brush with politics—the issue of integrating a local TV dance show in Baltimore during the height of the civil rights movement. The cast includes Debbie Harry, Sonny Bono, Divine (in a dual role), Jerry Stiller, Ruth Brown, and cameo appearances by Ric Ocasek and Pia Zadora as beatniks. Not only Waters's best movie, but a crossover gesture that expands his appeal without compromising his vision one iota; Ricki Lake as the hefty young heroine is especially delightful. With many arcane dance steps and hit singles from the period.



  • John Waters


  • Ricki Lake
  • Divine
  • Jerry Stiller
  • Sonny Bono
  • Colleen Fitzpatrick
  • Ruth Brown
  • Michael St. Gerard
  • Deborah Harry
  • Leslie Ann Powers
  • Clayton Prince
  • Mink Stole
  • Shawn Thompson
  • Ric Ocasek
  • Pia Zadora


  • Stanley Buchthal
  • Pat Moran
  • Rachel Talalay
  • John Waters

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