Don't be shy . . . It's time to talk sex toys! And Hysteria director Tanya Wexler is writing us a prescription for pleasure. Tanya's film — what she calls "the vibrator movie you can bring your mom to" — is in limited release and stars Hugh Dancy, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Rupert Everett. When working on a romantic comedy that centers around the invention of the vibrator, you end up with some entertaining and embarrassing situations along the way, and lucky for us, Tanya spilled all the hilariously dirty details. From teaming up with the film's partner Jimmyjane for a drive-by vibrator drop-off to a certain female Oscar-winner to trying unsuccessfully to get ducks to shag on command, Tanya was bursting with great stories from working on this very unconventional film. And while Tanya isn't ashamed to discuss the sexy subject matter of her latest film with us, the mother of four and her partner of 21 years did have a tricky challenge telling her preteen kids what her movie was about. (She eventually gave them the script and let them figure it out themselves!) Check out our interview with the fun-loving director now, and we dare you not to have a girl crush on her by the end!
TrèsSugar: What were some of the challenges to getting a movie made about vibrators?
Tanya Wexler: Getting the script right was tricky because if you just make a movie about the invention of the vibrator, it's actually a really short movie: you go "bzz" and it's done. And we had a kind of light romantic comedy. I say I made the vibrator movie you can bring your mom to. But some people wanted it to be raunchy or some people wanted it to be more serious and about feminism. People project a lot onto this movie of what they want, because there isn't a lot out there about vibrators and women's pleasure, and we still don't really deal with that topic very well, or we're overly antsy around it. And as a result, people have a lot of ideas of what the movie could and should be, and you can't please everyone. [laughs]
TS: Ha, good one.
TW: It's nonstop!
TS: Do you find sex toys inherently funny or something to be seriously celebrated?
TW: Yes! Yes. I think they make me laugh, and I think that the inner kind of Beavis and Butt-head in all of us goes "[laugh]." You know, that inner 13-year-old, like, "Hahaha vibrator . . . " and yet they're awesome and fun.
TS: What shocked you the most when researching the movie?
TW: That ducks are the rapists of the bird world, and you'll see when you see the movie, because there's a little bit of questionable duck behavior — or awesome duck behavior — in the movie. It's totally a sidebar, but you cannot make ducks shag on command. I'm just saying.
TS: What about the whole history of hysteria being a medical condition?
TW: When I first heard the idea, I was like, "What do you mean it was invented in Victorian times?" I knew about hysteria, but the idea that the treatment was manual [British accent] massage deparaxism — which is what they called it — and, of course, the denial. The most shocking thing is the denial, that they didn't think it was sexual.
TS: Do you think they were really in denial?
TW: No, I don't think that some people were. My college roommate was with her high school boyfriend for two years and she had never had an orgasm. I think there's all kinds of denial, especially with women's sexuality. So the fact that there are young women today who haven't had an orgasm, whether self-induced — which is insane — or with a partner, then why wouldn't we think back then that women wouldn't know what orgasms were?
They would get a massage, and the doctor's saying, "Without a penis, this isn't sex, because sex is about procreation," so what is this? The best physical therapy you've ever had. So once you don't think of it as something other than what the doctor's supposed to do to cure your uncontrollable crying or uncontrollable laughter or whatever, then it's just an awesome muscle spasm. If you don't think women have their own inherent sexuality, then you're not thinking about it like that.
Keep reading for Tanya's thoughts on Fifty Shades and more!