Nicholas Tana has written and directed the first documentary feature about masturbation, titled “Sticky: A (Self) Love Story.”
“The film will teach you everything you didn’t know about masturbation in one stimulating documentary,” Tana says. “It’s a candid portrayal of an activity that is rarely discussed, and the film explores it from a historical, medical, legal, moral and psychological perspective.”
The movie has everyone from a girl in her early 20s who masturbates on camera, to a woman in her 80s, the well-known pro-masturbation advocate and revolutionary educator, Betty Dodson
Tana aims to crush social embarrassment in his quest to understand why masturbation is something that most people do, but few like to admit.
I can hardly wait to watch the movie. For those of you who have read my book or heard me speak, you know that I, too, have been very vocal about the joys of masturbation and orgasms. Hoping for more voices to join the choir!
XBIZ: What motivated you to make this film?
Nicholas Tana: I was motivated by the desire to end the shame and blame around a fundamental aspect of human sexuality like masturbation. As a young man in middle school, I had been made fun of for admitting that I masturbated. This made me question why something that most people did, like masturbation, is so hard to talk about. I spent nearly a decade interviewing over 60 people from sex educators, to authors, lawmakers, entertainers to religious figures, in order to find out why.
XBIZ: What do you hope to achieve, i .e . what is your primary message?
Tana: I’d like for us to be able to finally be able to talk about this subject free from shame. I think the biggest myth surrounding masturbation is that it is no longer taboo. Despite the success of the $15 billion sex toy industry, it is still illegal to sell them in the state of Alabama. And though we’ve been seeing tons of Viagra commercials, we still do not see commercials about lubrications or sex toys related to masturbation. We did a mock commercial (70s’style) to illustrate that point.
XBIZ: Is this your first film? What was the most difficult part of getting it made?
Tana: This is my first feature film though I’ve made tons of shorts, commercials and industrials as I run my own production and marketing company. The most difficult challenge was balancing the tone of the film in a way that is entertaining, funny, yet still serious and informative, so that it doesn’t turn people off. I think we managed to accomplish that.
XBIZ: Is there nudity in the film?
Tana: It would be impossible for me to make a documentary on masturbation without nudity. However, we do have the censored version on iTunes, VUDU and Vimeo, currently. We have an uncensored version the distributor will be helping us to release in select theaters this May in honor of masturbation month and it is available on Amazon.com. Still, I thought the whole idea of censoring a movie on masturbation was ridiculous. Then again, I’m not the one trying to make the sales.
XBIZ: What has been the response so far?
Tana: It’s a challenge to sell sex in a manner that gets past people’s moral judgments and conservative attitudes. I have also managed to sell the film in a way that has received mainstream press attention; this is why I’ve had a number of sex toy companies approach me recently, interested in having me make videos for them. Newsweek, New York Magazine, and Indiewire have all given it rave reviews. In addition, my co-producer, Denise Acosta, and I have been invited to speak and screen film to major colleges.
XBIZ: It seems like masturbating has always come quite naturally to boys and men . Does the film involve and apply to men as well as women, or is it mostly female directed?
Tana: This movie involves both men and women about equally, and of all ages, ethnicities and religious backgrounds. We discuss the differences between men and women in one of the first sections of the movie. Part of this difference is cultural, as women have been repressed for years, mostly by men. Another part of it is physical. As Martha Cornog, author of “The Big Book of Masturbation” alludes to in the movie, men’s genitals sort of hang out there and are easier to find.
XBIZ: Are you focusing on a particular age or all ages? What about seniors?
Tana: The movie has everyone from a girl in her early 20s who masturbates on camera, to a woman in her 80s, the well-known pro-masturbation advocate and revolutionary educator, Betty Dodson. It has the first black Surgeon General, Dr. Jocelyn Elders in it, as well as comedian, Janeane Garofalo, a priest, a rabbi, a Buddhist and a Muslim, so I’d say we really run the gamut in terms of males and females from many ages, backgrounds, and belief systems. As I like to say, it’s a subject that touches us all. It is the world’s most popular taboo. Naturally, we had to include nearly everyone.
XBIZ: What change do you hope this movie — and being open about masturbation — will have on sexual relationships between people?
Tana: My hope is that this movie will be a great date movie and, as I said, get people talking. As I’ve been out there talking about it, it came as a surprise to see how many women were interested and attracted to the idea of learning more. I’ve also found from personal experience that people who are more open to discussing masturbation and sex tend to be better lovers. It can also help people who struggle from boredom or different levels of sex drive to come together.
XBIZ: How do you think this will impact the sex business financially?
Tana: Is it good or bad for the sex toy industry if people actually feel good and guilt-free about buying that dildo or vibrator? Good, I imagine.
XBIZ: What is the most satisfying thing about having made this film?
Tana: I’m quite pleased to see how well received it has been by the mainstream press and the sex education community. I’ve made it a point to pull all the great quotes on our website StickyTheMovie.com. My hope is that we can partner through corporate sponsorship to get the word out around the world. Together, we can perhaps break this long-standing taboo once and for all.
Lynn Brown Rosenberg is a sexuality speaker, and the author of “My Sexual Awakening at 70.” She can be contacted at LynnBrownRosenberg.com. Her memoir can be found on Amazon.com.