EXCLUSIVE (Updated with a mini Q&A with Mara Altman): HBO is developing a comedy about a young woman’s quest to achieve the female orgasm. No, this is not a Sex and the City spinoff about Samantha’s twenties. The pay cable network has optioned the non-fiction book Thanks For Coming: A Young Woman’s Quest For An Orgasm, with Grumpy Old Men scribe Mark Steven Johnson on board to adapt and Pretty In Pink helmer Howard Deutch attached to direct.
Thanks For Coming, which was published by HarperCollins last year, was written by Mara Altman, who will serve as a consultant on the HBO project, also tentatively titled Thanks For Coming.
In the book, Altman, a former staff writer for The Village Voice, chronicles her experiences of a twenty-six-year-old, attractive, successful, single woman in New York who’d never had an orgasm and sets out on a journey to achieve it. Johnson recently directed the romantic comedy When In Rome.
Since finishing Thanks For Coming, Altman has been working on another, a novel, while also writing a small book about cacti and succulents as well as freelancing for magazines like New York and Inside Jersey. She answered a few questions about her experiences, her book and her HBO project.
How do you feel about the possibility of your book becoming an HBO series?
Altman: I’m very excited about the prospect of HBO adapting my book for a comedy series. It’s not everyday that a dysfunctional vulva gets to move out of marginalization and into the limelight. Of course, like my book, the show would be about much more than a curious pussy with problems.
Will the series have a happy ending and did you have yours?
Altman: If the book made it to series, it would be a fictionalized account of my journey and would therefore not follow my exact path. As for my book, which chronicles a year of intense orgasm immersion – having a sacred whore, staying with an orgasm commune, researching my orgasmic ancestry in Israel, masturbating in an fMRI machine and more – I did manage to have some luck with orgasm. My conclusion: orgasm metaphors – like a volcano, like an explosion, etc – should be abolished. They prime us for a particular experience when the experience is actually entirely unique. That being said, my first was similar to the response I had when I bit into my first escargot – not quite what I expected, but willing to try another. And as one Tantra teacher told me, “There are as many different kinds of orgasms as there are stars in the sky.” Just because I’ve had one doesn’t mean that the journey is over.
Have you had a lot of interest in the book besides the HBO deal?
Altman: Thanks for Coming got a couple translation deals – Germany and Latin America. And of course, promoting a controversial book has given me some memorable moments. I had a spread in Marie Claire Brazil and saw a bold pull-quote that said “Vagina Autista.” Translation: Autistic Vagina. I also had an interesting radio interview with Jay Thomas. He somehow got me to falsely admit to fisting myself.
Were you surprised how much interest the story about the HBO project based on your book has created?
Altman: I am really surprised. It’s super fun to see the interest and diverse opinions. People tend to be very passionate about sex, especially other people’s sex. Overall, I would just be happy if the project gets made and if it gives us a fun and entertaining way to continue talking authentically about pleasure, desires and fulfillment.