Most Philadelphians know Howard Gensler C’83 as the Daily News’s longtime entertainment editor and gossip columnist, but it turns out he’s been writing his own movie scripts and stories for years. In a recent Daily News column, Gensler recapped his decade-long journey from conceiving Hysteria to watching it screen at the Toronto International Film Festival. (It’s now playing in theaters across the country.)
Hysteria is based on a story Gensler wrote about the invention of the first vibrator. In his Daily News story, the alumnus said his tale grew out of “a magazine article that had a couple of lines about the vibrator being invented in Victorian England for the treatment of the bogus, catch-all female diagnosis ‘hysteria.’ I thought the notion that what we now consider a sex toy came from the Victorians seemed kind of odd, and when I did a little research, the story got odder.”
Here is the official trailer:
And here, in his Daily News story, Gensler recounts watching the film screen in a 2,500-seat Toronto theater last fall:
We were ushered upstairs to a private balcony to watch the film with its first paying audience. It was truly a crazy mental intersection of excitement and nervous breakdown.
But then there was a laugh. And another. Then a big laugh. And a bigger laugh. And by the time “Hysteria” ended, the audience was cheering.
Even the credits were getting laughs.
Our elated director and stars bowed. Women shouted for Dancy’s autograph. And we all went off to a hot, noisy, crowded after-party where no one could hear anything and most of the people outside the VIP rope hadn’t even seen the film.
But for the first time, after seeing dozens of premieres at festivals, I understood why filmmakers have that euphoric, glazed look when they debut their movies. The odds of making it from conception to reception are so slim it’s like running a marathon in a potato sack.