A suburban housewife's world falls apart when she finds that her pornographer husband is serially unfaithful to her, her daughter is pregnant, and her son is suspected of being the foot-fetishist who's been breaking local women's feet.


John Waters


John Waters
1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Divine ... Francine Fishpaw
Tab Hunter ... Todd Tomorrow
Edith Massey ... Cuddles Kovinsky
David Samson David Samson ... Elmer Fishpaw
Mary Garlington ... Lu-Lu Fishpaw
Ken King ... Dexter Fishpaw
Mink Stole ... Sandra Sullivan
Joni Ruth White Joni Ruth White ... La Rue
Hans Kramm Hans Kramm ... Heintz
Stiv Bators ... Bo-Bo Belsinger
Rick Breitenfeld Rick Breitenfeld ... Dr. Arnold Quackenshaw
Michael Watson Michael Watson ... Freddy Ashton
Derek Neal Derek Neal ... Pimp
Jean Hill ... Gospel Bus Hijacker
Jim Hill Jim Hill ... Picket Reporter


Francine Fishpaw is an upper middle class suburban housewife in Baltimore. Unfortunately, the money to support her lifestyle comes from her husband's porno theater, the neighbors are protesting, her son is a "stomper", her daughter is knocked up by a local hoodlum, and her husband is having an affair. Written by Stephen J. LeBlanc <sjl@townsend.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Smelling is believing. See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


John Waters chose the Debbie Harry and Michael Kamen romantic song "The Best Thing" for Divine's Francine Fishpaw and Tab Hunter's Todd Tomorrow characters. It was sung by Bill Murray and lasts about one minute in the finished film. See more »


When Dexter's principal calls Francine, Francine starts acting as if he's hung up on her before he's even said goodbye. See more »


Lu-Lu Fishpaw: Dexter, forgive me for being so awful, but I've changed. Bo-Bo's dead, and... I've had a miscarriage.
Dexter Fishpaw: Oh, that's awful!
Lu-Lu Fishpaw: But I've discovered macramé! It's helped me find myself! I'm gentler now and more creative!
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the credits, the title song "Polyester" describes the action seen on screen, leading the audience through a helicopter shot of the suburbs into Francine's house (commenting on its French Provincial decor) and upstairs to meet her. See more »


Referenced in What Have I Done to Deserve This? (1984) See more »


The Best Thing
(Love Song)
Words and music by Debbie Harry (as Deborah Harry) and Michael Kamen
Vocals by Bill Murray
See more »

User Reviews

Just Your Average American Family
21 May 2005 | by gftbiloxiSee all my reviews

After several years of crudely made, crudely funny films such as PINK FLAMINGOS, director John Waters graduated to a somewhat more sophisticated style, and POLYESTER has a comparatively (note the word: comparatively) subtle script, cinematography that doesn't shake, sets and props that don't actually look like they were salvaged from the local junkyard, and even a mainstream star: 1950s matinée idol Tab Hunter.

The story concerns the extremely dysfunctional Fishpaw family. Husband Elmer is in the porno movie business; daughter Lu-Lu is a mindless teenage slut with a nasty boyfriend; son Dexter is wanted by the law for a sexual fixation that leads him to stomp women's feet! And then there is the mother, poor Francine, extra large and utterly at sea, hoping against hope for middle class respectability in the midst of it all.

Tab Hunter (who is even more of a stud here than in his earlier pretty-boy days) romancing female-impersonator Divine is a major draw, and there is enough hilarity--ranging from a nun-enforced hayride for single pregnant women during a rainstorm to a black gospel singer who hijacks a bus to chase down a juvenile delinquent--to keep the show rolling, and the satirical edge is often quite effective.

Even so, POLYESTER lacks the same shock appeal that made Water's earlier work so entertaining--and it is a tremendous pity that we can't experience the film in its original "ODORAMA." Recommended, but primarily for Waters fans interested in seeing him in his transitional phase.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

29 May 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Polyester See more »

Filming Locations:

Severna Park, Maryland, USA See more »


Box Office


$300,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

New Line Cinema See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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