Pink flamingos peer down from the dining room walls of Mink Stole's apartment -- playful reminders of the notorious 1972 film that helped launch Stole's career as an actress, alongside Divine, John Waters and the rest of the Dreamlanders.
While Stole says she has a copy of "Pink Flamingos" "somewhere," she hasn't seen the film -- or many of the other Waters' productions she co-starred in -- for some time. The past few years, Stole has been focusing on her budding career as a singer. She's preparing to release her first album, "Do Re Mink," at a show at the Creative Alliance on May 31.
"People will say, 'I didn't know you could do that.' And the answer is, 'I didn't, either.'" she said.
After living in New York and California for more than 30 years, the spry sexagenarian moved back to her native Baltimore about five years ago, into a building across the street from the Tuxedo Park house where she grew up.
"It was one of the best decisions I ever made to come home," she said.
You came into music later in life.
I was actually doing a Shakespeare play with the L.A. Women's Shakespeare Company. We were doing "A Winter's Tale," and I played the Singing Peddler. And a friend of mine, Brian Grillo, who is a musician, came to see the play and heard me sing -- it was a lighthearted little ditty. And he said, "I'm putting together this Sunday afternoon club at this leather bar in Silver Lake. Will you come and sing a song for me?" And I said, "Sure."
It's good to learn how to work a crowd before you record an album.
Absolutely. It did help a lot. Especially when you're doing gay bars. They like me in gay bars when I first get there, but as the evening progresses and they get drunker -- I'm a girl. Mink Stole? Movie star? Don't care. I'm a girl. They totally lose interest in me.
You crowd-sourced this album via Kickstarter, and one of the rewards for donations was wedding services.
Yes, I did one! [Laughs]
What's the deal with that?
A couple of guys from New York who had been together for 20-some years -- they lived together; they had a business together. They asked me to come up and perform their wedding, and I did exactly that. I'm a Universal Life Church minister. It takes five minutes on the Internet, but it's legal.
This is a community that has embraced you.
I don't know where I would be were it not for the homosexual population of the world. [Laughs] I really don't.
When you moved back here, you joked that it was like crawling back inside the womb.
[My mom and I had] always had a relatively prickly relationship. I was feeling my way, and trying to figure out what the boundaries were, and she had a stroke and three weeks later she was dead. I had five weeks with her. It's better than not being here, but I was really like, "Oh my God."
What will it take for you to consider "Do Re Mink" a success?
My real goal is for people to like to listen to me sing, and for other songwriters to want me to do their material. That would make me very happy, if people would want me to sing their music, as opposed to just letting me.