“We’re on location in the visiting room of Camp Cupcake, um, excuse me, the correctional facility for women in West Elm, to visit with fallen-from-grace maven Divine. Because of the exceptional nature of this location, our studio audience is located in the lounge of Betty’s Better Half Bar & Washeteria just down the way on Main Street. Ah, here’s today’s guest now. Let’s give her a warm Pinkie welcome!” The Host swoops her arms in a side-to-side circle then pats her palms together gently.
Divine shuffles into the interview room with her hands in her pockets, all smiles, rocking an orange two piece cotton-poly blend outfit with the collar turned up. There are stencils of bluebirds on the lapels and cuffs of the tunic top and parallel navy magic marker lines stenciled around her waist in lieu of a belt. On her head is a striped green and yellow headscarf tied at the back of her neck. She and Pinkie press cheeks against the Plexiglas in the visitor’s room, leaving oily skin-smudges.
“Hello, Divine.” Pinkie’s eyes are blinking like she’s practicing semaphore. “How arrrrre you?”
Divine holds her open palms skyward, in a Madonna-like pose. “Hello, Pinkie, Ladies in the studio audience. Welcome, all to my humble home.” She waves, then punks her bum into a scarred turquoise stacking chair and angles around to profile her best side.
“Thank you for having us. It’s been ten weeks since you arrived. May I ask how you’re doing?”
The boom man swings the microphone closer to the glass, while camera 3 readies for a close-up. The hamper-shaped matron at the back of the interview room scowls but doesn’t stir from the plastic tub chair by the door.
“I’m doing as well as can be expected. I’ve been assigned a bunk with a lovely woman from downtown named LaTeshia. She and her gal-pals’re teaching me about nail art. You know, how to apply acrylic or gel tips and then decorate them. Here, let me show you.”
Divine showcases her hands on the table top, fingers spread wide. Each of her talons is decorated in a different shade, from palest pink to vampire red, the tips flaunting a variety of art deco designs. Pinkie leans in close, bumps her head on the glass and swears with gusto. The director grimaces and does a cutting motion with his fingers across his neck. Pinkie waves him off.
“Well, those certainly are… artistic. And colourful.”
Divine shrugs coquettishly and pumps a fist beside her ear. She presses the backs of her hands against the glass.
“And notice the tasteful Asian script on my knuckles that reads: b-i-t-c-h on the right hand and q-u-e-e-n on the left.”
Pinkie leans back with her mouth open. For the first time ever, she’s at a loss for words. She glances over her shoulder at the camera man. He nods and gestures with two fingers up in a rock salute – I’m lovin’ it. The director is sweating in the corner, making more frenzied throat-slashing motions.
“Um, we have a commercial break coming up. Stay tuned folks, for more on Miss Divine. And we’ll field questions from our studio audience.”
The camera lights click off. The makeup crew rushes in to blot away some shine and fluff her hair. Pinkie waves them away. She leans in close, whispering sharply. “Girlfriend, what the h-e-l-l are you talking about?”
Divine sits up tall and squares her shoulders, then pulls off her headscarf to reveal a stubby cap of corn-rows ending in gold coloured beads. Her pale scalp is flushed and glowing under the harsh overhead lights.
“Ease up, Sistah. I’m cool.” She drives her index finger across her face towards the table top. “Ya know what I’m sayin’? Getting’ down just fine as butter. I got me a decent gig in the kitchen making some fine vittles for the ladies, got me some homegirls in my crew to watch my back, got the Big Dog’s permission to pimp up my crib to suit my style, ya know what I’m sayin?”
Pinkie’s lips open and close soundlessly and she shakes her head. She reaches an arm to one side. One of the go-fers slaps an unwrapped candy bar into her palm. She lifts it to her mouth and chews thoughtfully. Divine begins to bob her head to some internal tune. The beads dance along.
“Hold up, hold up, old Mama. Get wit’ the program. Call me Mistress D. I be chillin’.”
“But, but… what’s happened to you?”
“I got style, I got flava, I am totally fresh.” She does a queen-like waggle of her left hand. “Try Betty’s bumbleberry pie, ladies – it’s to die for!”
The director claps his hands. Pinkie jumps. She pastes on a host-smile as she turns to camera two.
“We’ll be back with Divine Stewart in a moment. A ‘new look’ Divine. So Divine….”