An appearance by John Waters was the highlight of last spring's 15th annual Florida Film Festival, so there's a precise symmetry in the booking of perennial Waters player Mink Stole as a special guest for an unrelated startup event known as Aida's Big Phat Florida Film Festival (see Selections, page 40). But Stole (born Nancy Stoll) is more than the actress who has essayed character parts in every one of Waters' feature films, having sustained independent careers in film, theater and music. She's even put in time as an advice columnist for papers like Orlando Weekly's sister publication, the Baltimore City Paper. We didn't ask Stole for any spiritual guidance, but that doesn't mean we think her thoughts are worth less than their weight in smuggled furs.
How well do you remember meeting John in 1966?
I don't remember it at all, to tell you the truth. I don't remember the actual meeting. I know who introduced us — it was a woman named Floanne Femling. She was a friend of my sister's from Baltimore. When I met John, I was staying with my sister and Floanne in an apartment in Provincetown. It's 40 years ago this summer.
When I met John, there were no `John Waters` films. When he asked me to make the movie Roman Candles, it was just like, "Hey, I'm going to make this movie. Do you want to come over and be in a scene?" "Sure!"
I was 19 years old, he was 20. He was extremely charismatic. I thought the people he knew were fascinating. And I was a little awed by his … he was different from anyone I had known before.
Had you wanted to act before meeting him?
You know, I did. I hadn't really done anything about it. I was a very shy child, so I didn't really know how to pursue things. But the minute John said, "Hey, do you want to do this?", I was like, "Yes I do! Pick me, pick me, pick me! Please, please, please!" And I thoroughly loved it. I really took to it. Over the years, I've certainly worked with a lot of people. I've done film and I've done theater. I've done all sorts of other stuff.
You've even done Shakespeare plays.
I've done a couple. One play was sort of the beginning of my musical aspirations — with the L.A. Women's Shakespeare Company, I did The Winter's Tale. I played the character of Autolycus. I was a peddler, and I had to sing. A friend of mine who is a musician, Brian Grillo, saw me. He wrote me a song and had me perform it at this leather bar in Silver Lake. And the audience seemed to really like it. So he introduced me to some musicians and helped me put a band
What's your favorite of the more obscure projects you've been involved with?
I really wish Girl Play was better known. It's a movie I did that was directed by Lee Friedlander. It was a lovely little movie — I played the mother of a lesbian, and she came out to me. There's a movie that I just finished working on a few months ago `by` the same director. It's called Out at the Wedding. And that was a wonderful project that I thoroughly enjoyed. It's kind of a complicated screwball comedy where a woman is afraid to tell her family that she's engaged to a half-black man, so instead she invents a story of being homosexual. And hilarity ensues.
It's not a gay movie; Girl Play was a gay movie.
I'd presume from what I've heard about it that another of your recent projects, Another Gay Movie, is a gay movie.
Actually, I've been cut out of that.
No! So audiences won't be meeting the character with the greatest name in history — Sloppi Seconds?
I actually just finished a `different` movie called Eating out 2: Sloppy Seconds.
It sounds like you have a motif going on.
Well, not intentionally. `Another Gay Movie director` Todd Stephens wrote me a charming note to tell me that `my part` had been cut and would be on the DVD. That's fine with me. I make enough of these little independent movies that if I don't make it to the screen in one of them, I'll survive this.
You're unlike a lot of people in that you've said making a movie is "the most fun thing in the world." Is live theater a runner-up?
Oh, absolutely. Basically, either of them can be the most fun thing in the world depending on the company. I've done plays that I was miserable in because the cast was awful and nobody got along. I've been on movies that were like that, too. But if you're working with people who are really enjoying what they're doing, either one of them can be the most fun thing. (Thinks) There's more money in movies.
How did you come to write the advice column for City Paper?
I was writing an advice column for a magazine in Los Angeles (Glue) that is now defunct. A woman named Laurie Pike was starting this magazine, and she said, "I want you to be sort of the big sister everybody wishes they had." I thoroughly did enjoy it, and I took it very seriously. The point was to be amusing and entertaining, yet give really serious advice. I was occasionally flip, but only when I thought they deserved it.
Was your singing another longstanding desire?
You know, it's funny. I took singing lessons when I was in New York. Back in 1969 or 1970, I was actually in a band for one minute. We did two performances and it was really fun. I wasn't the lead singer, I was just a backup singer, but I loved it. `And` I've always considered myself a performer as much as an actor. So when somebody actually gave me the chance to do this, I ran with it. It's been one of the smartest things I've ever done, because I thoroughly enjoy it. Right now, I work with live musicians, `and` I'm also working on an album of electronic music that I'm laying vocals over. There's something about singing that it's really just happy-making.
In Pink Flamingos, your character, Connie Marble, is tried and convicted of "assholism." Who in today's world would you like to see brought up on the same charge?
Certainly, every single person connected with the Bush White House. Every single one. And then also religious-right leaders. Anybody who wants to keep anybody else from living a life that is productive and happy. But if you want to concise it, just put "the whole Bush White House."