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


For the first time a new dimension in motion pictures - ODORAMA. See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Jean Hill bit the car tire for real. See more »


In the opening scene in the living room, as the Fishpaws are arguing, a boom mic is visible. This was corrected for later DVD releases. See more »


Francine Fishpaw: Coitus Interruptus?
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 More Lust, Less Dust (2001) 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

A Matter of Taste
23 August 2015 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

It's good that everything is done up in ridiculous fashion, otherwise the pranks would be too mean-spirited to sit through. Everyone comes in for their share of abuse, some funny, some not so. No doubt, the movie is strictly a matter of taste. Waters takes a shot at social mores, marriage especially. Poor wife Francine's life is in an ongoing crisis, from foot-stomping son to slutty daughter to philandering husband to abusive mother. Only gap-toothed Cuddles provides relief. That is, until handsome Tod (Hunter) cozies up. But is he too good to be true.

This may be the most kinetic movie I've seen in a while. The performers are in constant motion such that dialogue gets delivered on the fly. It's like Waters doesn't want to risk a revealing pause. I'm sure Waters would hate it, but I suspect there's a moral at work here. Namely that true repulsiveness comes from within and not from without. Note that the repulsive looking Francine and Cuddles are the most sympathetic characters, while the other more normal looking or attractive are callous in some exaggerated way. I was curious to see a Waters film since this one and others were much ballyhooed at the time. Though well made, I frankly wasn't impressed much one way or the other. But I can see why it's attracted a cult following among fans of the outrageous.

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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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