The Eggs-traordinary Egg Lady, Edie Massey Remembered
By Tom Warner and Scott Huffines (Baltimore Or Less)
Edith Massey, the popular John Waters “Dreamlander” actress (Multiple Maniacs, Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, Desperate Living, Polyester), punk singer (Edie and the Eggs), boutique owner (Edith’s Shopping Bag in Fells Point) and greeting card model, passed away this day from cancer and complications resulting from diabetes. Her ashes, fittingly, were interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, home of numerous Hollywood stars and entertainment industry celebrities.
Edith will forever be remembered as “Edie the Egg Lady” for her breakthrough role in Waters’ equally breakthrough cult classic Pink Flamingos (1972), though her leather-clad turns as Aunt Ida in Female Trouble (1974) and as evil Queen Carlotta of Mortville in Desperate Living (1977) are just as memorable.
Besides her body of work with Waters, Edie’s legacy is preserved in Robert Maier’s 1975 documentary short Love Letter To Edie, the 1976 documentary short Edith’s Shopping Bag, the Steve Yeager documentaries Divine Trash (1998) and In Bad Taste (2000), the 1981 John Cougar Mellencamp music video “This Time,” and her recordings as the singer of the all-girl punk rock band Edie & The Eggs, whose one-time drummer – and Dundalk native (Sacred Heart of Mary class of 1971, hon!) – Gina Schock went on to later fame with The Go-Go’s. (See producer Tom D’Antoni’s Evening Magazine profile of Schock here.)
In the 1980s, Edie continued her punk rock act with a number of different backing bands. One of them was Baltimore’s Thee Katatonix, who initially backed Edie at one of her birthday parties with a lineup that included “Danimal” Danny Brown and Adolf Kowalski on guitar and keyboards, “Reverend” Jack Heineken on bass and Big Andy Small on drums.
The Kats’ association with the Egg Lady culminated in a two-night stint in 1982 at New York’s Mudd Club, on a bill that included Joe Tex and Sam & Dave and with John Waters in attendance.
But perhaps the zenith of Massey’s career came when she graced the May/June 1980 cover of the esteemed cinema journal Film Comment. From Egg Lady to glossy Cover Girl – who knew?
Edith always dreamed of more glamorous Hollywood roles and even auditioned for a part in a non-Waters film, Paul Bartel’s 1985 comedy Western Lust in the Dust (which featured her Polyester co-stars Divine and Tab Hunter), before before sidelined by health issues.
She eventually got her teeth fixed late in life by Baltimore dentist/video producer-editor Ron Israel (who weened producers Tom Warner and Scott Huffines during Atomic TV‘s late-’90s infancy on Baltimore City public access television), who talks about Massey in a bonus feature appearing on the extremely rare Criterion Collection laserdisc of Polyester (1981). As Baltimore Sun writer Bill Thomas reported (“Edith, the Toothless,” Dec. 17, 1982), when Massey lost her last remaining tooth in 1982, Dr. Ron made her two sets of new ones – one full pair for formal occasions and another one with just her signature solo snaggle tooth for the movies.
When Baltimore’s cold winters became too much for her to handle, Massey moved to Venice, California, where she operated another thrift store until her untimely death in 1984. She was, and will continue to be, missed.
Below, see some of our favorites sights and sounds from Edie’s colorful and entertaining life on screen and on stage.
Listen to Edie singing Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons’ “Big Girls Don’t Cry.”
Listen to Edie & The Eggs sing “Hey Punks, Get Off the Grass” live on the Sunset Strip in 1979, with Baltimoreans Gina Schock on drums and Ann Collier (formerly of Charm City’s all-female band Rhumboogie) on guitar.
Check out Mellencamp and Massey in the music video “This Time.”
You can hear Edie the Egg Lady soundbites sampled in the Thrill Kill Cult music video “Days of Swine and Roses.”
“Edith Massey Conquers Godzilla”
Check out Evening Magazine’s 1978 profile of Edie in “Edie: Queen of Fells Point.”
Watch a clip from Robert Maier’s short Love Letter To Edie.