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


It'll Blow Your Nose! See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Final film where director John Waters would work with regular actress Cookie Mueller. She was dying when Waters began production on his next film Hairspray (1988). 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: I'll never be able to show my face in church again! I'll be excommunicated because of YOU!
Elmer Fishpaw: Stop that yammering and fix me a drink!
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 Divine Trash (1998) See more »


(Title Song)
Words and music by Chris Stein and Debbie Harry (as Deborah Harry)
Vocals by Tab Hunter
See more »

User Reviews

Oh my god, it's Divine!!!
29 January 2001 | by quin1974See all my reviews

This must be one of the worst efforts in moviemaking I have ever seen, and also one of the funniest.

The story of Francine Fishpaw (played by transvestite Divine), the good Christian "wife" of a porntheater owner and how she became an alcoholic is told in such a bad and tasteless way that it became funny to watch. It really made me think of movies made by Ed Wood: so incredibly bad that they must become cult-classics. The timing in the movie amounts to nothing. There is no dicernable structure to be seen for miles around. The plottwists are too ludicrous for words. But it was all made with a lot of love and that is something that counts.

The sets on the other hand have been crafted in such a perfect obnoxious American suburban way that they made me shiver. The same thing counts for the costume design, absolutely fantastically horrible, all that Polyester.

At least John Waters in consistent in one aspect of the film: everybody is a lousy actor. There is absolutely nobody in this cast that can even remotely put on a decent performance. Edith Massey in particular is absolutely too horrible to watch. If only Joaquin Phoenix were old enough at the time, he would have played the role of Dexter Fishpaw to perfection, but he would have been too good for this cast.

The is the perfect exhibition of obnoxiousness and a great satire of American moral values.


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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
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