This Week in 1981: 'Polyester' Wafts Into Theaters
3D may be the gimmick of the moment, but 30 years ago this week (on May 29, 1981), John Waters came up with a different way to extend movies into a new dimension and make them more in-your-face. It was called Odorama, and his test vehicle, a movie you could smell, was 'Polyester.'
'Polyester' was a brave undertaking for Waters, previously known as the outsider auteur whose deliberately outrageous films (most notoriously 'Pink Flamingos') had been relegated to midnight-movie status. For the first time, he was courting the attention of the mainstream. He risked having both cult fans and mainstream critics tell the world that 'Polyester' stunk (often literally). And while none really dared follow his technical innovation, Waters did prove that the mainstream was ready for his idiosyncratic brand of satire -- and that he, in turn, was ready for mass acceptance, a transition he would complete with his next movie, 'Hairspray.'