Edith as Aunt Ida in Female Trouble
Edith in one of her infamous fat-lady birthday card poses.
Edith Massey was one of the most beloved of all Dreamlanders. "Discovered"
by Waters as a barmaid in Pete's Hotel in Baltimore, she filmed her very
first scene for him right there for Multiple Maniacs. But that's not where
her story begins.
No, Edith Massey had a long history. She grew up in an orphanage in Denver,
but ran away to Los Angeles to be in show business. To make ends meet
while waiting for her big break, she sold pencils and combs on the sidewalk.
Never really making it as a Hollywood commodity, Edith began dancing in
bars, clubs and "honky-tonks" as a b-girl (asking men for drinks).
She traveled like a hobo on freight trains and hitchhiking around the
country; Texas, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago, Las Vegas. Eventually
she got a bar of her own in Oklahoma and once worked as a madam in an
While in Tampa, another girl told her the pickings were good in Baltimore.
She spent 15 years on "the block" [a notorious section of the
city] before opening her own thrift shop and working at Pete's Hotel.
The rest is history. For a really great version of this story, pick up
a copy of the short film Love Letter to Edie.