Interview: Coming Soon Director Colette Burson and the Search For the Female Orgasm

Written by George Tabb on . Posted in Arts & Film, Posts.

Colette Burson
How do you make a woman have an orgasm?
A: Who cares?
Obviously Colette Burson does. She cowrote and directed a whole movie dedicated to the
subject. Coming Soon, which opens May 12 at Village East Cinemas, stars
Mia Farrow, Ryan O’Neal, Spalding Gray, Peter Bogdanovich, Gaby Hoffmann
and newcomers Bonnie Root, Ryan Reynolds, Tricia Vessey, James Roday and Ashton
Kutcher. It’s a comedy with a killer climax. I use the term “comedy”
loosely. I’m not sure it’s so funny. Young girls searching for orgasms
is scarier to me than that guy with the knives for fingers, the dude with the
hockey mask or the flasher who knows what you did last summer.

It’s just like a woman
for you to show up late.

Yeah exactly. I was running
around like crazy. (laughs) You’re making me nervous with those orange

Wendy: Feel free to tell
him to fuck off anytime.

So I hear you’re having
problems with distribution–what’s up with that?

Well, I have a distributor
now, so I don’t know if I’m having problems–hopefully not. Although
I was having problems for a long time, despite the fact that I always
had great screenings. Women buyers would strongly recommend the film, but each
time Coming Soon was about to be bought, it would go to the guys in marketing,
who would always come back and say, “There’s no market. We have no
idea what do to with this thing.”

Wendy: Did they say why?

At one point it went to
Fox and they said it was too “controversial.” In general I felt like
they were confused. I never got a clear answer beyond, “We don’t know
how to market this. We’re not comfortable marketing this.”

Why do you think they were

I imagine that when the
film is screened you’ve got an older guy sitting in the room and, you know,
maybe there is a male assistant and maybe a woman there, and at the end
of the movie, it’s always about somebody putting their ass on the line.
Some guy has to say, “I think we should invest in a movie called Coming
about girls orgasming.” And I think they feel uncomfortable. Whereas
if it’s a movie like American Pie, what with the dick and the pie,
the marketing is very easy. But a girl having an orgasm in a jacuzzi…it’s
not their experience. It’s a huge hump they can’t get over. If you
look at the advertising for Big Daddy, for example, it’s interesting
to see how it was marketed. It’s Adam Sandler and this kid, and they are
pissing against a wall. Two guys. You’d never see a woman squatting.
I think it’s reflective of society and how people are less comfortable
with women’s sexuality and their bodies. Imagine Rosie O’Donnell and
Anna Paquin squatting. People would go, “Oh gross.” You’d never
see that.

By extension, these guys
who run marketing divisions feel very comfortable about boys’ sexuality,
and not so much about girls’. I was very surprised that I ran into so much
controversy while making this movie. I never thought it was controversial. To
me, that’s a joke. We are not nearly as liberated as we think we are. Even
in New York and L.A.

Wendy: The girls are not
even that young.

Right. I even added a line
that says, “Are we 18 or what?” Letting the audience know their age.
But it’s stupid, because in Risky Business Tom Cruise is in high
school, he has sex with a whore in a train and that’s fine and it got an
R. I got an NC-17. Twice. The MPAA told me they were uncomfortable with the
idea of girls and orgasm. I actually got a woman on the phone who I told, “I
can’t help but point out that if this film were about boys, I don’t
think you’d have a problem.” She said, “Colette, that may very
well be true, but it’s the job of the MPAA to judge a movie in the place
of parents, for the parents, in case they can’t see it, and if the parents
were to see your movie, and the double standard exists, then they would judge
it with that double standard. Therefore it’s fine that we judge it the
way we do.”

I don’t think that
the problem men have is with chicks having orgasms.

Wendy: Liar.

I think it’s that they’re
getting sex in high school, and we didn’t. I didn’t get laid until
I was almost 19. These girls are young and getting some. Maybe we men are just

Gosh, George. (laughs) I’ve
never heard that analysis before. I have heard a lot of people weigh in, but
I have never heard that. I feel like it may come a little too much from your
personal experience.

It’s true, men are
just jealous.

Wendy: Please. You’re
just jealous. I know that when George was watching the film he was just cringing.
George was three feet tall in high school.

(laughs) I think this cringing
thing is very interesting. There are many guys who “get” this movie
and are very cool. The ones who don’t fall into two categories: either
they totally trivialize it and say, “It’s just Clueless“…like
a New York Clueless. Or they’re really uncomfortable and don’t
understand why.

I know I’m uncomfortable
and I know why. I didn’t get any in high school.

There’s a demographic
for this film that’s really bad. It’s men in their late 40s and 50s.

Wendy: That’s you,


Unfortunately they rule
the world. Which is why Coming Soon is opening in one theater and not
1800. I think it reminds the men in their late 40s or 50s who rule the entertainment
industry about their daughters. In Coming Soon the girls look sweet.
They have flowers in their hair. They want to go to Harvard. And they
want an orgasm. That’s the part they don’t tell their parents in the
movie. That is a father’s secret fear–that their daughters are sexual.
It’s easier with like Britney Spears. She’s sexual in a slutty way,
she’s packaged in that way, in the Catholic school uniform. She can be
objectified and yet she’s separate from their lives.

If I ever have a daughter,
she’s not allowed out of the house until she’s 30.

(laughs) I think that’s
what all those guys think. They know their daughter is trying to get into Harvard,
but they don’t know maybe she’s having sex and it’s really bad.
And the way you feel about your body, and your sexuality, as a teenager, can
fuck you up for life.

What’s wrong with bad
sex for girls? If I had a daughter, it’d serve her right to have bad sex.
She shouldn’t be having it anyway.

Having bad sex means she’s
gonna have a bad body image.

Wendy: Sex is always bad
the first time, isn’t it?

Well, you know, that’s
interesting. My distributor wanted the tag line on the poster to read “The
first time is the best time!” Of course I hated that… I wanted it to
be “Coming Soon: Did you think you never would?” The compromise line
which is being used now is “It’s all about feeling good.”

How was sex the first time
for you, Colette?

Oh Jesus. (laughs) You
know, I hardly know how honest to be. I was the world’s biggest cocktease.
And I remain that way today. Oh God! I’m kidding. Really, I’m kidding!
I have a boyfriend. I’m deeply in love with him. We’ve been going
out for eight years. And he gives me very good orgasms.

Oral or with a dick or a


I said mouth, hand or dick?
That’s three.

Mostly both. The hand is
involved, but not at the climactic moment. It would be if I needed it to be
involved. I happen to be very orgasmic.

Do you masturbate often?

What’s often?

I dunno. Hourly?

Fuck off, George. (laughs)
Well, the moment in the movie in the hot tub… That really happened to me.
And there were other people in the hot tub. I think I was 15. At first it was
an accident. I realized it was erotic. It was a jet. Then I sort of adjusted
and didn’t want to leave that jet.

Was that your first orgasm?

No. My first orgasm was
dry-humping in jeans. I thought the end of the world was coming. He was on top
of me, kissing, and I was 13 or 14, he was rubbing his crotch against mine.
Apparently the Amish are really into that. If you haven’t experienced sex,
it’s really fun. I got a lot of juice out of that for several months. But
I never connected that to masturbation until I read about it in Our Bodies,

Half the time I can’t
find the clitoris.

I’m not surprised.
(laughs) Sometimes I think this movie is a great litmus test for where people
are at sexually. It’s a comedy. It’s not a big heavy thing. But it’s
a subversive comedy. Sometimes even women have walked out of the film. Angry.
Or offended. I can tell afterwards. I’ve seen this film screened with many
different audiences and sometimes women don’t even want to talk to me.
I can tell they’re angry. Women and men. And when I look at them,
I think, “They look like they’re really uptight and bad in bed.”
One time this guy came out of the theater. He was sort of a friend of mine going
in… (laughs) He avoided me going out. He went up to my editor and said, “You
know, this movie really gets to me. It’s as if those girls think they have
a right to have an orgasm.”

Wendy: Oh. My. God.

It’s shocking. You
don’t expect it. My editor said to him, “If this were about boys,
you wouldn’t have a problem.” I would never have believed it before
making this movie.

I thought sex felt good
for women even if they didn’t have orgasms. But I mean, for men, if they
don’t, it’s painful.

What the fuck are you talking
about? Women tell you they feel good, but that’s a lie. You know that feeling
you get just before you get off? What if the get-off part never came?

I take Prozac, I know that
feeling well.

(laughs) I think some girls
are so alienated from their bodies that they don’t even feel good. Even
the part about feeling good is a lie.

Coming Soon opens Friday,
May 12, at Village East Cinemas, 189 2nd Ave. (12th St.), 529-6799.