Moviegoers with summer colds might find John Waters' "Polyester" -- filmed in Odorama, the latest in scratch'n'sniff technology -- absolutely disgusting. But easy breathers had best eat light on the day they hit the theater.
This is because Waters' saga of surburban family life in Baltimore, replete with ten numbered smells on scratch'n'sniff cards that come with the tickets, is perhaps the most foul entertainment since Joseph Beuys hung hunks of fat from the ceiling of a New York gallery.
Here we have Divine, Waters' plump transvestite of preference ("Pink Flamingoes," "The Filthiest Person Alive," etc.) playing the romantic lead opposite Tab Hunter ("Damn Yankees," "Ride The Wild Surf," etc.), as a disagreeable band of patented Waters characters snorts across the screen.
Mary Garlington, as Divine's punk-rocking daughter Lulu, is new to this world, but she does just fine. "Bobo's dead and I've had a miscarriage," she says brightly at one point, "but now I've discovered macrame!"
Other dramatis personae include Lulu's brother Dexter, a criminally insane foot-fetishist, Divine's husband Elmer Fishpaw, a loutish porno-theater owner, and Elmer's sleazy secretary Sandra, played to the hilt by someone named Mink Stole.
But Divine, as Francine Fishpaw, the emotionally battered wife, delivers the line that got the biggest laugh the other night from an audience of Georgetown. "Oh Cuddles," he/she moans to his/her only friend, a scrub-woman-turned-debutante, "maybe I should get out of Baltimore."
As for Tab, who appears as Todd Tomorrow and doesn't look his 50 years, it's nice to see him working again.
The odors, indicated in the movie by a flashing digit (that's when you scratch), tie the proceedings together with a kind of smelly suspense. Some of them are quite effective. But let's not ruin things by going into it here.
That "Polyester" is an achievement cannot be disputed. Of what sort, perhaps the Aldous Huxleys of the future should decide.
POLYESTER -- At the Key in Georgetown.