One of the most inventive of European writers and a master of allegorical fantasy, Calvino was born in Cuba in 1923 but grew up in Italy and spent most of his life there.

An essayist and journalist, as well as a writer of fiction, he was awarded the prestigious Italian literary award, the Premio Feltrinelli.

Entering into a relationship, they were married in 1938 before both gaining employment working at the Black and Decker factory in Towson.

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In 1963, he began attending the Marinella Beauty School, where he learned hair styling and, after completing his studies, gained employment at a couple of local salons, specializing in the creation of beehives and other upswept hairstyles.

Milstead eventually gave up his job and for a while was financially supported by his parents, who catered to his expensive taste in clothes and cars.

Along with friends like Waters and Lochary, Milstead began hanging out at a beatnik bar in downtown Baltimore named Martick's, where they associated with hippies and smoked marijuana, bonding into what Waters described as "a family of sorts". Not many of them call me Glenn at all anymore, which I don't mind. They call me fatso, and they call me asshole, and I don't care. Following the production of his first short film, Hag in a Black Leather Jacket (1964), Waters began production of a second work, Roman Candles (1966).

Waters gave his friends new nicknames, and it was he who first called Milstead "Divine". You always change your name when you're in the show business. This film was influenced by the pop artist Andy Warhol's Chelsea Girls (1966), and consisted of three 8-millimeter movies played simultaneously side by side.

Waters later remarked that he had borrowed the name from a character in Jean Genet's novel Our Lady of the Flowers (1943), a controversial book about homosexuals living on the margins of Parisian society, which Waters – himself a homosexual – was reading at the time. Roman Candles was the first film to star Divine, in this instance in drag as a smoking nun.

It featured the Dreamlanders modeling shoplifted clothes and performing various unrelated activities.

In 1981, Divine embarked on a career in the disco industry by producing a number of Hi-NRG tracks, most of which were written by Bobby Orlando.

He achieved international chart success with hits like "You Think You're a Man", "I'm So Beautiful", and "Walk Like a Man", all of which were performed in drag.

Being both a short film and of an avant-garde nature, Roman Candles never received widespread distribution, instead holding its premier at the annual Mt. In the film, she turns to kidnapping models and forcing them to eat their own makeup.