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John Waters Claims He Once Saw Angela Lansbury In A 'Dungeon-Like Sex Club' In The '80s

The 'Hairspray' director said it was not surprising, but 'welcoming' to see the stage and screen icon at NYC sex club Hellfire.

John Waters and Angela Lansbury
Marilla Sicilia/Archivio Marilla Sicilia/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images; ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

The death of legendary actor Angela Lansbury last week just five days shy of her 97th birthday inspired an outpouring of tributes.

But filmmaker John Waters' is in a league by itself.

Earlier this week, Waters spoke to Page Six about Lansbury's legacy which according to him includes running into her at a legendary New York sex club in the 1980s.

Who knew Dame Angela had it in her‽‽

The famously bawdy Waters first shared the anecdote in his 2019 memoir Mr Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder.

The club in question was The Hellfire Club, a mainstay in New York's then-seedy Meatpacking District that Waters described as "dungeon-like" and which catered to what he called "gay and straight perverts" alike, especially those who enjoy the BDSM scene.

Lest you think Lansbury was dressed up in crotchless leather and carrying a riding crop or something, think again--at least as far as we know, anyway.

Waters described Hellfire as a hotspot at that time that all sorts of people frequented in those free-wheeling, pre-AIDS days, including "lots of celebrities," like Andy Warhol and Truman Capote.

He told Page Six:

"Everybody went. She wasn't doing anything."
"Hellfire was a straight, gay bar [where] people had sex."
"You would be standing there talking about the new novel of Alain Robbe-Grillet, and a [penis] would come through a glory hole and then you just move down."

But while she may not have been partaking in the club's delights, Waters described Lansbury exactly as we all remember her:

“[Lansbury] was pure class even 40 years ago when these kind of clubs were all the rage..."
"It may have been the only night she was ever there, but just her presence made Hellfire a little more welcoming.”

Of course, people on Twitter absolutely loved this anecdote.










It's apropos Waters saw Lansbury at a sex club often frequented by LGBTQ+ people.

She is widely considered a gay icon not only because of her long Broadway and West End theater career but was also a prolific activist during the AIDS crisis, raising money for American Foundation for Aids and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.