Female Trouble - Plot


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 on a dirty mattress on the side of the road. 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 (Hilary Taylor) 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 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 during which a narcissistic Dawn happily poses for their photographs. Ida then bursts into Dawn's house and disfigures her face with acid when Gator leaves to pursue work 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. After encouragement from the Dashers, Dawn cuts off 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. Taffy returns home and announces she is joining the Hare Krishna movement. Dawn warns her she will kill her if she does. Dawn, now with 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 are 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.

Read more about this topic:  Female Trouble

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