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FilmOut Screens John Waters’ ‘Polyester’ In Odorama

Get ready to scratch ‘n’ sniff some scents that will shock you

Photo caption:

Photo credit: New Line Cinema

A sample of what the Odorama scratch 'n' sniff card for "Polyester" looks like.

John Waters’ film "Polyester" is more than three decades old but it will offend your olfactory senses once again when it screens Wednesday night as part of FilmOut’s monthly film series.

John Waters’ film "Polyester" is more than three decades old but it will offend your olfactory senses once again when it screens Wednesday night as part of FilmOut’s monthly film series.

Someone looking a bit like a mad scientist introduces a trailer for "Polyester" by announcing, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is Odorama."

It’s been decades since audiences in San Diego got to enjoy John Waters’ cult classic "Polyester" with its original scratch 'n' sniff Odorama cards. Waters created this gimmick to bring the sense of smell into cinemas with the same irreverence that he brought to everything else. Here's how Odorama was pitched to audiences in one promotional spot:

"You may experience some odors that will shock you, but the producers of this film believe that today’s audiences are mature enough to accept the fact that some things in life just plain stink."

The way the Odorama card works is that audiences watch the movie and when a number appears on screen, they scratch the corresponding scent. Number one is a rose but from there it only gets gloriously worse.

Officially the 10 smells are as follows: 1. Roses, 2. Flatulence, 3. Model Airplane Glue, 4. Pizza, 5. Gasoline, 6. Skunk, 7. Natural Gas, 8. New Car Smell, 9. Dirty Shoes, and 10. Air Freshener.

"Polyester" stars Waters' favorite Divine as Francine Fishpaw, a suburban housewife trying to manage her dysfunctional family. Hubby Elmer (David Samson) owns an adult theater and is carrying on an affair with a secretary. Rounding out the household is a delinquent teenage son and a pregnant teen daughter. But her life gets a make over when she meets Todd Tomorrow (Tab Hunter), the owner of an art house theater.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: New Line Cinema

Tab Hunter and Divine star in John Waters' cult comedy "Polyester," screening in Odorama on Feb. 18 at 7:00 pm at Landmark's Hillcrest Cinemas as part of FilmOut's monthly film series.

The film is an outrageous send up of the "women's pictures" of the 1950s directed by men like Douglas Sirk and starring actresses like Joan Crawford and Lana Turner. These films were ripe melodramas about women trapped in bad marriages or constricting traditional roles. Waters sends them up with deep affection and with a similar sense of critical sensibility about middle class morays.

If you have never experienced Odorama or a John Waters's film, then this is a divine opportunity that should not be missed. Just wait till 300 people in the theater all scratch number two together and inhale deeply. Yeah! That's a communal cinema experience to be treasured.

And here's a little treat: the episode of the brilliant British TV show "The Incredibly Strange Film Show" in which host Jonathan Ross profiles John Waters. The section on "Polyester" begins at about 36 minutes into the show. But watch the whole thing, it's a delight.


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