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Fundraising for Divine monument ends, starts up again

Fundraising for Divine monument ends, starts up again
Proposed "Divine Shrine" (Baltimore Sun)

Fundraising for a proposed monument to actor and drag queen Divine has fallen well short of its $70,000 goal, but organizers are already trying again.

A team of local merchants, artists and Divine fans announced Friday that they are abandoning efforts to raise the money through a campaign on Kickstarter.com that was scheduled to end today. As of Friday afternoon, just over $14,000 had been raised. That money will be returned to the 235 people who had pledged.

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The group has begun fundraising on a second crowdfunding website, m4hub.com. That site will not include a deadline for raising the money, says Hampden merchant Michal Makarovich, allowing the group more time to stage fundraising events and come up with other ways to collect the money.

"There has been lots of enthusiasm, but it hasn't all translated into donors," says Makarovich, one of those spearheading the effort to put the 8-foot-high marble and concrete monument on the side of a building at Reed and Tyson streets — across from where director John Waters filmed the infamous final scene of his 1972 film "Pink Flamingos." In the scene, Divine, playing Babs Johnson, the self-proclaimed "filthiest person alive," scoops up a handful of dog excrement and eats it.

"Our enthusiasm was so high at the beginning; we thought we'd get it in the first two days," lamented Makarovich. "There are so many Divine fans all over the world."

Divine, born Harris Glenn Milstead, grew up in Towson and Lutherville. He was a mainstay in films made by Waters, his longtime friend, through 1988's "Hairspray." He also gained international fame as a disco singer and drag queen.

Divine died in 1988 and is buried in Towson.

The proposed monument has already earned the enthusiastic support of Baltimore's Public Art Commission, which endorsed its design during a meeting in February.

The Divine group had hoped to have the monument in place by July's Artscape, but now concede that timetable was overly ambitious.

"Now, we won't feel like we're part of a heated political campaign," says Hampden's Alex Fox, an early member of the group. "It'll be easier to plug and to have different types of fundraisers over the next six months, year, maybe the next few years."

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