polyesterHow do I describe John Waters films to someone who’s never experienced them? Waters earlier films are low-budget time capsules of a post-60’s world full of disillusionment, camp, and laughter. Whether you’re baffled, grossed out, bored, or busting a gut, one thing everyone agrees -Waters likes to have fun. His 1981 feature, Polyester was his first foray into a larger audience. Continuing to star his muse Divine – Glenn Milstead’s 300 lbs of drag queen insanity and Waters regulars Edith Massey, Mink Stole, and David Samson. Waters convinced 50’s heart-throb Tab Hunter to star as Divine’s love interest in this satire on suburbia including the infamous Odorama cards passed out in the theaters which patrons were instructed to scratch-n-sniff at the appropriate moment. Perhaps not as accessibly written as Hairspray and Serial Mom, Polyester certainly stands as Waters moment where his absurdist view of the world went from low-budget art film to at least medium budget wider release. The addition of Tab’s Todd Tomorrow proves movie magic playing straight man to Divine’s Francine Fishpaw and her insane suburban world. 3.5 out of 5 for this risk-taking film from one of my favorite trail blazing American directors.

For more on Divine, watch the wonderful documentary I Am Divine.
This post is dedicated to my dear friend Mark Rosen who died too soon from AIDS in his 20’s when we were both living in Atlanta. I can’t help but remember him every time I talk about Divine who was his goddess. His coyly sinister laugh always reminds me to smile through the darkness.


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