Anatomy of a Queer Sex Scene: “Multiple Maniacs” Has the Best Lesbian Sex Scene Ever

Welcome to Anatomy of a Queer Sex Scene, a series by Drew Burnett Gregory and Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya about queer sex scenes in film. Today Drew writes about John Waters’ early perverted classic, Multiple Maniacs.


I want to start by saying that if you are a cis woman who exclusively has sex with other cis women and that sex exclusively involves kissing, fingering, and licking pussy that you are valid. Those are great ways to have lesbian sex. I enjoy them, I hope you enjoy them, I hope your partner or partners enjoy them.

But the great thing about lesbian sex — and queer sex in general — is its expansiveness. Even within so-called vanilla sex there are endless ways to kiss and suck and finger. Everyone’s bodies are different and different acts and approaches to those acts bring different people pleasure. This is true for all sex, but queer people are gifted with fewer expectations. Therefore, almost all of us are forced to consider what we want rather than falling into a routine.

And maybe what we want is to get fucked in the ass in church with some rosary beads.

Mink fucks Divine in church

John Waters’ early feature Multiple Maniacs is just as audacious today as it was in 1970. Opening with a guided tour through “The Cavalcade of Perversions,” Waters and his troupe of misfits push and push in their depictions of sex, violence, drug use, and sacrilege. One minute the legendary Divine is spitting out fabulous insults, the next she’s getting raped by a giant lobster.

And then there’s the rosary job scene.

This scene makes up about a sixth of the movie’s total runtime. It begins with Divine being led by the Infant Jesus of Prague (played by a literal child) to a Catholic church. Like the sequence as a whole, Divine is narrating this encounter, providing inner monologue and motivation to cut to a lo-fi retelling of Jesus’ miracles.

Multiple Maniacs sex scene: Divine prays in church

Jesus stands next to bags of bread and cans of tuna fish

But as she prays, Mink Stole enters and gives her a “lewdly religious glare.”

Soon enough Mink has sidled up next to Divine and — even though Divine narrates that lesbianism has never really appealed to her — she trusts in the Infant Jesus of Prague leading her to this church. Mink instructs Divine to say the stations of the cross as Waters continues to cut to his own take on them. Meanwhile, Mink starts fucking Divine with her rosary.

Mink pears at Divine as she prays

After Jesus has been nailed to the cross and Divine has come, “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands” fills the soundtrack. Waters cuts to another misfit shooting up heroin elsewhere in the church just in case he hadn’t offended enough.

Divine and Mink leave the church together and Divine admits that was the most fabulous sexual experience of her life. Mink says most people call her The Religious Whore.

I’m not Catholic, nor was I raised Catholic. I come to this scene delighted by the sacrilege but with a different reaction to it than an ex-Catholic — or current Catholic! — queer person might.

Jesus bleeds carrying the cross with spit dripping down his beard

For me, what makes the scene is the sex act itself — and who is doing it. As a trans woman, deeply underrepresented in the history and present of lesbian film and television, I love that this moment is between a cis female actor and a cis male drag queen. I don’t care that Divine wasn’t trans! If two straight women can be in a lesbian sex scene, then so can a drag queen.

And then there’s the sex itself. A lot of lesbian sex on-screen (outside of porn) is vague. At most, we’ll know someone is being fingered or getting head. There are not a lot of toys. There definitely isn’t a lot of anal. Which is absurd! Even queer women with vaginas have anal sex! The scene in Multiple Maniacs is clear: The words rosary and anal are interchangeable when followed by the word beads.

Multiple Maniacs Sex Scene: Mink Stole puts rosary beads in Divine's ass

I want to see a wider variety of queer bodies have sex on-screen. I also just want to see a wider variety of sex acts. Porn is great, but something is lost as a culture when it’s the only place to watch the vast majority of ways people can fuck.

The scene in Multiple Maniacs is funny and hot all at once. Mink’s smeared lipstick, Divine’s loud orgasm, even someone spitting in Jesus’ beard if that’s what does it for you. It’s the work of a one-of-a-kind queer artist operating under total freedom.

Multiple Maniacs sex scene: Divine and Mink kiss

Some would balk at me calling this the best lesbian sex scene of all time. Hell, some would be upset with me calling it a lesbian sex scene at all. But my hope — on-screen and in life — is that we are always looking to expand beyond ourselves and to expand ourselves.

Queerness should always include a cavalcade of perversions. If you want to keep your lesbian sex simple and sensual, I love that for you. Some of us will be in church bent over a pew taking a string of rosary beads.

We’re just following the Infant Jesus of Prague.

Mink Stole wipes off the rosary beads

Remember to clean your beads.


Multiple Maniacs is now streaming on The Criterion Channel. The Multiple Maniacs sex scene begins at 34:28.

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Drew Burnett Gregory

Drew is a Brooklyn-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. She is a Senior Editor at Autostraddle with a focus in film and television, sex and dating, and politics. Her writing can also be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Refinery29, Into, them, and I Heart Female Directors. She was a 2022 Outfest Screenwriting Lab Notable Writer and a 2023 Lambda Literary Screenwriting Fellow. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about queer trans women. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Drew Burnett has written 474 articles for us.

7 Comments

  1. Divine identified as a gay man. I get you say you don’t care about others opinions on that. But to say a scene focused on a queer mans pleasure is the “best lesbian sex ever” is pretty reductive and ignores the way women (afab and trans) have traditionally been secondary to male pleasure in the vast majority of film.

  2. Having seen Multiple Maniacs for the first time recently (largely having no idea what to expect, and with a friend) — this is wildly timely for me personally and I continue to love this website and your commentary. May we all continue to have such experiences!

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