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Odorama was a "scratch-and-sniff" gimmick created for John Waters' 1981 cult comedy Polyester, inspired by the work of William Castle and the 1960 film Scent of Mystery, which featured a device called Smell-O-Vision. In Polyester, odors, especially Francine's particularly keen sense of smell, play an important role in the film. Special cards with spots numbered 1 through 10 were distributed to audience members before the show, in the manner of 3D glasses. When a number flashed on the screen, viewers were to scratch and sniff the appropriate spot. Smells included the scent of flowers, pizza, glue, gas, grass, and feces. For the first DVD release of the film the smell of glue was changed due to, as Waters states, "political correctness". The gimmick was advertised with the tag "It'll blow your nose!"[1]. After being prompted to scratch and sniff a bouquet of roses, viewers are subjected to a series of mostly foul-smelling odors, and thus fall victim to the director's prank.

The ten smells (developed by 3M per John Waters in the supplements section of the DVD release) are:

1. Roses 2. Flatulence 3. Model airplane glue 4. Pizza 5. Gasoline 6. Skunk 7. Natural gas 8. New car smell 9. Dirty shoes 10. Air freshener

A video release omits the numbers flashing onscreen as well as the opening introduction explaining Odorama. This version, created by Lorimar-Telepictures, was shown on cable TV in the United States. The Independent Film Channel released reproduction Odorama cards for John Waters film festivals in 1999. Waters expressed his delight at having the film's audiences actually "pay to smell shit" on the commentary track of the film's 2004 DVD release. The film was re-screened by Midnight Movies at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June 2011. The Odorama cards were recreated by Midnight Movies, Little Joe Magazine, and The Aroma Company to allow viewers to interact with the film as originally intended.


  1. Neil Gaiman, Kim Newman, Ghastly Beyond Belief, Arrow Books, 1985, ISBN 0-09-936830-7, p. 193
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