In Tennessee Williams' The Mutilated, Trinket Dugan is an odd character. Though well supported by a Texas oil fortune, she lives in a run down hotel in New Orleans. She often flashes a wad of cash as thick as a po-boy, but she tends to stay alone in her room and drink jug wine. Her only close friend is Celeste Delacroix Griffin, who was kicked out of the hotel and has just been released from jail, on Christmas Eve.
Nancy Stoll, aka Mink Stole, is no stranger to odd characters, having appeared in all but a handful of John Waters' films, including starring roles in cult classics Pink Flamingos, Desperate Living and Female Trouble. She played Trinket in a production of The Mutilated directed by Cosmin Chivu in Provincetown, Massachusetts and in New York, and Chivu and Stole are remounting the show with a New Orleans cast this week at the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC).
Waters gave Stole the name she has since adopted. Although both are from Baltimore, they met in Provincetown in the 1960s while Stole was visiting her sister for the summer. Stole and Waters, who had made one 8 mm short film at that point, hit it off.
"We called ourselves freaks," Stole says. "We were too late for the beatniks. We didn't want to be hippies, because they didn't wear makeup or high heels. We were into glamour."
Glamour may not be the first term associated with Waters' transgressive and often trashy films. Stole played carrot-topped Connie Marble, a baby kidnapping ring leader rival to crossdresser Divine, in Pink Flamingos. She was the babydoll-dressed angry teenager Taffy Davenport in Female Trouble, and Peggy Gravel, a histrionic housewife who escapes suburbia to live in the sleazy town of Mortville in Desperate Living. As Waters created his own genre of art trash, he wrote roles for Stole, Divine and the rest of the actors known as the Dreamlanders.
"In Pink Flamingos, we did not start with a finished script," Stole says. "We knew that in the end, Divine was going to win and I was going to die."
Stole made no money but enjoyed making films with Waters. Regarding the films' love of filth, she says only that she knew her mother was appalled by the films.
"We knew they were funny; we never knew we'd have any impact," Stole says. "Probably if I had, I would have been insufferable."
While Stole is best known for Waters films, she's appeared in many movies, ranging from the gay comedy series Eating Out to her part being left on the cutting room floor of David Lynch's Lost Highway — though her lines were kept in the film. She's also appeared onstage in William Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams productions and worked with San Francisco drag queen Peaches Christ.
One of her latest projects is Hush Up Sweet Charlotte with Jason Stuart (Will & Grace) and Varla Jean Merman, whom she met while in New Orleans in 2013. Though the Southern gothic thriller is set on a Louisiana plantation, they filmed in San Francisco. It will be released in 2016.
In 2013, Stole and New York actress/performance artist Penny Arcade starred as the oddball friends living on society's margins in the revival of The Mutilated. At the CAC, Donna Duplantier plays Celeste, and there's a live band onstage.
The Mutilated flopped when it opened on Broadway in 1966, closing after one week. But its dark humor may have been ahead of its times, or in need of the right Trinket.