Many of the original Dreamlanders were friends of Waters from his native Baltimore, Maryland. They included the "bad suburban kids" he knew from Towson and Lutherville: Bob Skidmore, Mark Isherwood, and Mary Vivian Pearce. This crowd was drawn to downtown Baltimore by the gay scene, where Divine introduced Waters to David Lochary.
The original Dreamlanders also included denizens of the Fells Point neighborhood where Waters' art director, Vincent Peranio, a recent graduate of Maryland Institute College of Art, had rented an industrial space that once housed a commercial bakery with seven other Maryland Institute graduates, to use as cheap studio and living space. They called it the Hollywood Bakery. In Fells Point, the Dreamlanders were regular customers at Pete's Hotel, Bertha's, and Jimmy's. In addition to Peranio, the Fells Point Dreamlanders included Mink Stole, George Figgs, Bob Adams, Susan Lowe, Paul Swift, Chris Mason, and Peter Koper.
Although Waters has attempted to include many of the same actors and production team members in every film, not every Dreamlander is used in each of his films. This is frequently the result of the death of an actor, as was the case with Maelcum Soul, Edith Massey, Divine, and David Lochary. Other actors such as Jean Hill and Ricki Lake have not been used in every film, but appear occasionally.
Typically Waters would discover an actor and continue to use them in subsequent films. Most notably, Mary Vivian Pearce is the only Dreamlander to appear in every one of Waters' films, although her appearance in Cry-Baby was removed. Mink Stole has appeared in all of Waters' feature films, but does not appear in the early short films Hag in a Black Leather Jacket (1964), Eat Your Makeup (1967), and The Diane Linkletter Story (1969). Although many Dreamlanders have a prolific history with Waters, the distinction of being a Dreamlander is generally bequested upon anyone who has made more than one Waters film, such as Traci Lords who appeared in Cry-Baby (1990) and Serial Mom (1994). Danny Mills is sometimes considered a Dreamlander despite only appearing in the 1972 film Pink Flamingos.
- Maier, Robert (2011). Low-Budget Hell: Making Underground Movies with John Waters. Full Page Publishing. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-9837708-0-0.
- Griffin, Chloe (10 January 2014). Edgewise: A Picture of Cookie Mueller. b_books. p. 35. ISBN 978-3-942214-20-9.
- Griffin, Chloe (10 January 2014). Edgewise: A Picture of Cookie Mueller. b_books. pp. 33–35. ISBN 978-3-942214-20-9.
- Maier, Robert (2011). Low-Budget Hell: Making Underground Movies with John Waters. Full Page Publishing. p. 55. ISBN 978-0-9837708-0-0.
- Maier, Robert (2011). Low-Budget Hell: Making Underground Movies with John Waters. Full Page Publishing. pp. 57–64. ISBN 978-0-9837708-0-0.
- Maier, Robert (2011). Low-Budget Hell: Making Underground Movies with John Waters. Full Page Publishing. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-9837708-0-0.
- All the Dirt on "A Dirty Shame" 2004
- John Waters DVD Scrapbook 2005
- Curley, Mallory. A Cookie Mueller Encyclopedia, Randy Press, 2010
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