Hairspray poster

Hairspray, is a 1988 comedy film written and directed by John Waters, and starring Ricki Lake, Sonny Bono, Debbie Harry, and Divine. Hairspray was a dramatic departure from Waters' earlier works, with a much broader intended audience. In fact, Hairspray's PG is the mildest rating a Waters film has received; most of his previous films were rated X by the MPAA. Set in 1962 Baltimore, Maryland, the film revolves around self-proclaimed "pleasantly plump" teenager Tracy Turnblad as she pursues stardom as a dancer on a local TV show and rallies against racial segregation.


Tracy Turnblad and her best friend, Penny Pingleton, audition for The Corny Collins Show, a popular Baltimore teenage dance show based on the real-life The Buddy Deane Show. Despite being overweight, Tracy becomes a regular on the show, infuriating the show's reigning queen, Amber Von Tussle, a privileged, beautiful high school classmate whose pushy stage parents, Velma and Franklin Von Tussle, own Tilted Acres amusement park, where racial problems occurred). Tracy steals Amber's boyfriend, Link Larkin, and competes against her for the title of Miss Auto Show 1963, fueling Amber's hatred of her.

Tracy's growing confidence leads to her being hired as a plus-size model for the Hefty Hideaway clothing store owned by Mr. Pinky. She is also inspired to bleach, tease, and rat her big hair into styles popular in the 1960s. At school, a teacher brands her hairstyle as a "hair-don't" and sends her to the principal's office where Tracy is sent to special education classes, where she meets several black classmates who have been put there to hold them back academically. The students introduce Tracy to Motormouth Maybelle Ruth Brown, an R&B record shop owner and host of the monthly "Negro Day" on The Corny Collins Show. They teach Tracy, Penny, and Link dance moves and Penny begins an interracial romance with Motormouth Maybelle's son, Seaweed. This horrifies Penny's mother, Prudence, who imprisons her daughter in her bedroom and tries to her into dating white boys and oppose intergration with the help of a quack psychiatrist. Seaweed later helps her break out of the house and run away. It is implied that she will never return as she has finally broken free from her mother.

Undeterred, Tracy uses her newfound fame to champion the cause of racial integration with the help of Motormouth Maybelle, Corny Collins, his assistant Tammy, and Tracy's agoraphobic, slightly overbearing, and overweight mother, Edna. After a race riot at Tilted Acres results in Tracy's arrest, Franklin and Velma Von Tussle grow more defiant in their opposition to racial integration. They plot to sabotage the Miss Auto Show 1963 pageant by planting a bomb in Velma's bouffant hairdo. Tracy, who had won the crown but was disqualified for being in reform school, gate-crashes the pageant after the governor pardons her, along with all of her supporters, much to the Von Tussle's horror. This move integrates the Corny Collins Show, much to everyone's delight, apart from the Von Tussles.

Tracy then steals the spotlight, wearing a pink gown adorned with roaches, and subsequently dethrones Amber with the help of Little Inez. And as everyone starts to join in the dancing, the Von Tussles' plan to sabotage the pageant literally blows up in Velma's face as the bomb detonates prematurely. The two are arrested and led away screaming as Amber, whom the wig had fallen onto, is ostracized and ridiculed by her former friends from the show.

The movie ends as Tracy is crowned the rightful winner of the pageant, and in the final scene, calls on for everyone to dance.

Cast and CharactersEdit


Side OneEdit

Hairspray (1988)

Hairspray 1988 Soundtrack Cover

  1. "Hairspray" by Rachel Sweet with Deborah Harry
  2. "The Madison Time" by Ray Bryant
  3. "I'm Blue (The Gong-Gong Song)" by The Ikettes
  4. "Mama Didn't Lie" by Jan Bradley
  5. "Town Without Pity" by Gene Pitney
  6. "The Roach" by Gene and Wendell

Side TwoEdit

  1. "Foot Stompin'" by The Flares
  2. "Shake a Tail Feather" by The Five Du-Tones
  3. "The Bug" by Jerry Dallman and the Knightcaps
  4. "You'll Lose a Good Thing" by Barbara Lynn
  5. "I Wish I Were a Princess" by Peggy March
  6. "Nothing Takes the Place of You" by Toussaint McCall

Additional songsEdit

Other songs appear in the movie, but are not on the soundtrack.

  • "Limbo Rock" – Chubby Checker
  • "Day-O" – Pia Zadora This was never released as a single
  • "Duke of Earl" – Gene Chandler
  • "Train to Nowhere" – The Champs
  • "Dancin' Party" – Chubby Checker
  • "The Fly" – Chubby Checker
  • "The Bird" – The Duo Tones
  • "Pony Time" – Chubby Checker
  • "Hide and Go Seek" – Bunker Hill
  • "Mashed Potato Time" – Dee Dee Sharp
  • "Gravy (For My Mashed Potatoes)" – Dee Dee Sharp
  • "Waddle, Waddle" – The Bracelettes
  • "Do the New Continental" – The Dovells
  • "You Don't Own Me" – Leslie Gore
  • "Life's Too Short" – The Lafayettes

Home MediaEdit

Hairspray was first released on VHS and LaserDisc in 1989 by RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video. New Line Cinema reissued the film on VHS in 1996.

The film was released on DVD by New Line in 2003. The disc included an audio commentary by John Waters and Ricki Lake and a theatrical trailer.

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