The Vibrator Movie You Can Take Your Mom To

5.18.2012

By Jerry Portwood

Director Tanya Wexler, an out lesbian filmmaker, explains why she made 'Hysteria,' a rom-com costume drama about female stimulation

Pictured: Ruper Everett with a "magic featherduster" in 'Hysteria'?

Tanya Wexler has directed a movie starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy that is about, well, it's about the history of the invention of the vibrator. Set in Victorian England, Hysteria seems to cause British-style giggles and smirks due to its cheeky treatment of a Victorian idea that women needed their "hysteria" relieved through subtle hand massage. Although it may be the first movie about the subject, Wexler hopes it's not the last. And since Sarah Ruhl's play In the Other Room, or the Vibrator Play already had a successful run on Broadway and is sort of about the same thing and time period, we may have another one in the near future (remember those dueling Truman Capote biopics?).

Wexler lives with her partner and four children in New York, and we caught up with her to ask a few questions before the film opened theatrically this week. Wexler is a riot, the kinda lady you'd love to argue with over dinner or just hang out with in general. Her mother showed up so they could go to lunch, so we asked her how she proposed the idea of the film to her in the first place.

"I told her I had heard this great idea. She was one of the first people to read the script, and she loved it," Wexler explained. "If there's a kind of criticism that people levy against the film, it's that it's not edgy enough. That's cool. I hope there's a movie that does that. My feeling is that it's much more subversive that you make a movie about the vibrator that you can bring your mom to. You can see stuff everyday on the Internet about vibrators you wouldn't want to show your mom!"

But was there ever any uncomfortable moments discussing female self-pleasure with mama? 

"Well, after the premier in Toronto, they gave out swag with these vibrators that read: Just What the Doctor Ordered. My mom called me later and was like, "You know, they were all gone by the time me and my friends got there. I was wondering..." And I was thinking, Oh god, are we having these conversation? But she was serious: My friends...And I cut her off. "Mom, Mom. Just give me a number, OK, 20. OK, and let's never speak of this again."

Hysteria opens in select theaters on May 18.
 

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