Mink Stole is the Philip Seymour Hoffman of John Waters’ world. The actress has played leads (“Desperate Living”), supporting (“Pink Flamingoes”) and smaller roles (“Serial Mom”), creating compelling characters no matter what their prominence.
Even if she’d appeared only in Waters’ films, Stole would still be a cult film queen. (Maybe wearing the crown she attempted to share with Queen Carlotta in “Desperate Living”?) But in addition to the high trash of Waters, Stole has appeared in dozens of films. In an e-mail interview after shooting her latest, a women’s prison movie called “Stuck,” Stole talks about her many “mother of the gay” roles and her best buddy on the “Female Trouble” set. That film is the reason – well, today, anyway – for thinkin’ Mink: Stole will attend a special screening of the Waters classic Saturday at the Loft Cinema.
What are you doing right now? Where are you?
It’s about 7 p.m. and I just got home from Macon, Ga. I was there working on a new film by Steve Balderson called “Stuck.” It’s a black-and-white women-in-prison movie about a young woman mistakenly accused of killing her mother and sentenced to be hanged. It has all the good stuff you’d expect from a death-row film noir: the innocent one, tough-on-the-outside-cream puff-on the-inside lesbians, vicious prison guards and the religious fanatic – that’s me. We filmed all the cell block scenes on a soundstage, but used the local jail for the prison yard stuff, and a beautiful, real antebellum mansion for a dream scene. Macon is absolutely gorgeous, so pretty that (Gen. William) Sherman decided to spare it on his horrific destructive march through Georgia during the War Between the States, and we, the cast and crew, were treated with true Southern hospitality. Many of us stayed in private homes and by the time we left we all felt like we had become members of the family. I stayed with Kim and Terrell Sandefur and their 10-year-old twins, Nina and Wyatt, and I already miss them.
We’ve read that Taffy Davenport, your woman-child role in “Female Trouble” – is your favorite of the many fabulous characters you’ve played in John Waters’ films. What is it about her that you so love?
I’ve always felt a really strong connection to Taffy, probably because as a kid most of the time I felt misunderstood and unappreciated. I’m the fifth of 10 kids – hardly an only child like Taffy was – and I deeply resented being “the problem child,” so of course I acted out, which made things worse. I’ve always felt that Taffy was just like that, just trying to be good, but nobody wanted to believe her, so she got attention however she could. And from an actor’s POV, it’s always fun to play extreme characters, so Taffy was a blast. We shopped the children’s departments of the local thrift shops for her wardrobe. It was also great to be able to film so much inside – a real change from the bitterly cold exteriors of “Pink Flamingos.”
Who of the rich cast of folks from “Female Trouble” were you most comfortable with, most likely to grab a cup of coffee with?
Probably my best friend on the set was David Lochary. We spent a lot of off-camera time together, but this was the fifth movie I’d worked on with John and most of the same cast members and crew, so we were all good friends by then. Vincent Peranio, our production designer, and Van Smith, our costume/ makeup designer, and Pat Moran, the production chief, were just like family, too. We all socialized together off set.
What has been your favorite non-John Waters film and/or role?
I really enjoyed playing Natasha Lyonne’s mom in “But I’m a Cheerleader” a few years ago, and Robin Greenspan’s mom in “Girl Play” in 2004. Both of those were “mother of the gay” roles, another of which I did in “Eating Out 2″ in 2006. My favorite role is usually the one I’m either working on at the moment or have just completed, so right now I’m totally in love with Esther, the devout death-row inmate in “Stuck,” and Evelyn the librarian in “All About Evil,” the Joshua Grannell film just wrapped in San Francisco. This was the first horror movie I’ve been in where I’ve actually been tortured, and it has an amazing cast, including Natasha Lyonne. I loved working with her again, as well as Thomas Dekker, Cassandra Peterson and Patrick Bristow. It’s really funny and really bloody. I don’t know when “All About Evil” will be released, but we expect “Stuck” to premiere at MAGA, the Macon, Ga., film festival in February 2010.
How does your filmography reflect who you are (your politics, beliefs, etc.)?
Hmmmmm. I’m a yellow-dog Democrat and a tolerant atheist. I believe in human rights (including gay marriage) and animal rights. I’ve never chosen films because of any of these beliefs, but the way I think and live have definitely had an influence on the roles I’m offered.
The only recording we’ve heard of Mink and Her Wonderful Band is “Sometimes I Wish I Had a Gun.” Are there other recordings out there? How active is the band?
When I moved from Los Angeles back to Baltimore in 2007, I had to leave my band behind, which broke my heart. I’ve put together a great group here in Baltimore, and we’ve done one concert so far, but are hoping to do more. What I’d really love is to be the house band in some supper club for a while, but I have been out of town way too much to put that together. “Gun” is the only tune that’s been released but, although I have no specific dates or plans, I will do an album as soon as I can. I’ve been very lucky to work with some wonderful musicians, and I want to record with them all.
IF YOU GO
What: actress Mink Stole screens “Female Trouble”
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.
Price: $8 general, $6 Loft members
Info: 795-7777, www.loftcinema.com