Less than six months after Prospect Hill Cemetery arranged for a stone conservator to clean graffiti off the gravestone of Harris Glenn Milstead, the drag performer known as Divine, the gravestone has been vandalized again.
The middle of the headstone is marred by a rust-red splotch that covers the name Divine and the name Glenn just above it. The redness extends up into a carved portion of the stone that depicts two roses and two praying hands. It appears to be either oil paint or smudged lipstick.
Today would have been Divine’s 76th birthday. He was born on Oct. 19, 1945 and died on March 7, 1988, at the age of 42. Throughout the year, fans place gifts on the ground to show their affection for Divine, but the gravesite in Towson gets more visitors than usual on his birthday and the day he died.
As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, items included a plastic-covered card that reads “Happy Birthday My Divine Glenn,” with an image of a birthday cake in one corner; a rainbow-colored, star-shaped Slinky; a miniature of Deep Eddy lemon-flavored vodka; a can of BED HEAD “extra strong hold” hairspray; and a plastic pink flamingo wearing a face mask. The red splotch was there before Tuesday.
Divine was a 300-pound drag performer who rose to fame starring in John Waters movies such as “Pink Flamingos,” “Female Trouble,” “Multiple Maniacs” and “Hairspray.” He also performed in the plays “Women Behind Bars” and “The Neon Woman” and launched a singing career during the disco era. After he died, People magazine named him “The Drag Queen of the Century.”
An anonymous admirer from Alabama paid to have the gravestone professionally cleaned earlier this year, after seeing that it was covered with curse words and other phrases scrawled in magic marker and lipstick. Other celebrities who have had their gravestones defaced include Jim Morrison, Andy Warhol and Oscar Wilde.
After Divine’s gravestone was restored, the cemetery’s management created a small black and white sign that asks visitors not to deface it. The sign was placed off to the side of the gravestone when it first went up, in the hopes that it would deter vandalism. On Tuesday, it appeared to be slightly closer to the gravestone than before. It’s the first time the cemetery’s managers have posted a sign specifically mentioning Divine or anyone who is buried there.
“By all means pay your respects to an iconic performer,” it reads in part, “but help preserve the dignity of this burial ground.”