Mondo Trasho is a 1969 American 16mm mondo black comedy film by John Waters. The film stars Divine, Mary Vivian Pearce, David Lochary and Mink Stole. It contains very little dialogue, the story being told mostly through musical cues.
After an introductory sequence during which chickens are beheaded on a chopping block, the main action begins. Platinum blond bombshell Mary Vivian Pearce begins her day by riding the bus and reading Kenneth Anger‘s Hollywood Babylon.
Bombshell is later seduced by a hippie degenerate “shrimper” (foot fetishist), who starts molesting her feet while she fantasizes about being Cinderella. She is then hit by a car driven by Divine, a portly blonde who was trying to pick up an attractive hitchhiker whom she imagines naked. Divine places her in the car and drives distractedly around Baltimore experiencing bizarre situations, such as repeated visits by the Blessed Virgin Mary (Margie Skidmore)—during which Divine exclaims, “Oh Mary … teach me to be Divine”. Divine finally takes the unconscious Bombshell to Dr. Coathanger, who amputates her feet and replaces them with bird-like monster feet which she can tap together to transport herself around Baltimore.
- Mary Vivian Pearce as The Bombshell / Cinderella
- Divine as Divine / Greaser in Alley
- David Lochary as Asylum Inmate / Dr. Coathanger / Voice of Snob #2
- Mink Stole as Homeless Woman / Asylum Inmate / Snob #1
- John Leisenring as The Hippie Foot Fetishist / Prince Charming
- Bob Skidmore as Asylum Personnel / Policeman
- Margie Skidmore as Shocked Mother in Park / The Virgin Mary
- Berenica Cipcus as Evil Stepsister #1 / Asylum Inmate / Dr. Coathanger’s Nurse
- Chris Atkinson
- Lizzy Temple Black as The Virgin Mary’s Assistant
- Mark Isherwood as The Hitchhiker
- George Figgs as Asylum Inmate / Man in Waiting Room
- Susan Lowe as Asylum Inmate
- Marina Melin as Asylum Inmate
- Rick Morrow as News Photographer
- Mimi Lochary as Snob #2
- Pat Moran as Dr. Coathanger’s secretary
- Bob Walsh as Shocked Laundromat Patron
- Susan Walsh (uncredited) as Shocked Laundromat Patron
- John Waters as Reporter (voice)
- Patricia Waters as Little Girl
- Rip Quinn as Jacob Ross
Depending on versions of the story; either Waters or the whole crew (except Divine) was either arrested or nearly arrested during production for illegally shooting a scene involving a nude hitchhiker on the campus of Johns Hopkins University.
The film’s title refers to a series of semi-related quasi-documentary films that were popular during the 1960s: Mondo Cane, Mondo Freudo, Mondo Bizarro, etc. The title also pays tribute to Mondo Topless, a film by one of Waters’ favorite directors, Russ Meyer.
Waters, in a 2008 interview, stated that the songs used in the film were taken right out of his own record collection. Waters says he did not pay the proper licensing fees to use these songs because he could not afford to. It is because of this, Waters says, that Mondo Trasho remains out of distribution, as the still-unsecured music rights would be too prohibitively expensive to clear.
Waters himself has stated that he does not care for this movie. In an interview with British Film Institute Waters said it should have been a short film instead of a feature but was a feature-length due to being influenced by films such as Andy Warhol’s experimental film Sleep.
The film was only produced in 1984 on a 95 min rated R VHS, hi-fi mono sound in black and white by Cinema Group Home Video.
In an interview with the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, MA on tour for his book release of Mr Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder (2019), John stated that Mondo Trasho would never get released again due to copyright issues with the music and that it would cost $1 million dollars just to secure rights for the music.
DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic!