Jump to: Skinterview | Related Links

It's one thing to helm a documentary on breasts, but it's a wholly different thing to have the talking heads opining about boobs while showing their own!

That's just what director and producer Meema Spadola did with her revealing documentary, aptly titled Breasts: A Documentary, out now on DVD from First Run Features.

And what a teat it is for the breast obsessed. Not only are most of the women getting breasts off their chests, they're doing so topless. But there's also archival material that's almost as entertaining, such as a sexy animated cartoon from the Roaring '20s, a '50s beauty pageant, and a '70s bra commercial.

Spadola followed up that body-part flick with a look at undressed men and their prong and joys in Private Dicks: Men Exposed, also new to DVD thanks to First Run Features. They let it all hang out, from virgins to porn stars, interspersed with sex education reels and more dirty cartoons.

Mr. Skin caught up with the busy filmmaker to see what other body parts she likes, why her jugs never made it into the film, and what it's like to be pranked when filming pricks. To learn more about Spadola, check out her website at SugarPictures.com.

What motivated you to do a documentary about women's relationships with their breasts?
Breasts are women's most public private parts--they're right out there in front and are the most obvious signal of womanhood, but they're also still taboo and covered up. In this culture, there's a lot of "hide and seek" going on, and we play with just how much, when and where we can see breasts. That kind of fascination gives them a huge amount of power. Add to that the fact that breasts play such a crucial role in women's experiences of puberty, motherhood, sex, health, and aging, so it's logical that how we feel about our breasts can profoundly impact our lives. I couldn't believe that someone hadn't already made a documentary about breasts!

Many of the women interviewed are topless; did any blanch at the concept of taking their shirts off?
Before doing the interviews, I had conversations with all the women about why I was asking them to do the interview topless: I wanted the documentary to show real women's breasts while telling real women's stories. It helped that the documentary was filmed by an all-woman crew. Most of the women understood and supported that concept, though there were certainly some women who didn't want to do the interview topless. Sometimes that became part of the story, like with Susan, the comedian, who decides to take her top off in the middle of the interview.

Were you surprised by any of the comments women made about their breasts?
It was fascinating to hear and see women of all different ages, sizes, and backgrounds who all felt that the shape of their breasts had shaped their lives. I particularly loved hearing from Racine, the beautiful transgender woman, who felt that it was getting breasts that truly made her a woman.

Who are some celebrities that you filmed?
The point of the documentary was to see and hear from everyday women, non-celebrities. Though I think a few of these women are funny enough to be famous!

Did any big names turn down your requests to be a part of the documentary?
Never asked.

How about you, why didn't you expose yourself body and soul for the camera?
It's hard enough to work producing and directing a documentary, now you want me to expose myself "body and soul" too?

How do you feel about your breasts?
Great, thanks for asking!

You followed up Breasts with Private Dicks: Men Exposed, which featured porn star Lexington Steele and Jonah Falcon, who has the reputed largest penis in the world, measured at thirteen-and-a-half inches. How was it different talking to men about their penises as opposed to women and their breasts?
Whereas Breasts had an all-woman crew, [for] Private Dicks both producer Thom Powers and I did the interviews. And while the women were very forthcoming in talking about their bodies, it was a bit more of a challenge to get the men to open up.

Breasts and penises just don't mean the same thing in this culture. Showing penises is way more taboo, so it was much more difficult to get men to do the interviews naked. I think viewers will be surprised by the opening sequence in Private Dicks, which shows a montage of the men fully dressed, then nude--we wanted to make the point from the top: We're talking about the penis, you're going to see penises.

Private Dicks also features practical joker Alan Abel, whose first major hoax was in 1959 when he headed up the fictitious Society for Indecency to Naked Animals, advocating clothing for farm animals. Did you know who he was or were you a victim?
Thom and I had never heard of Alan Abel, the hoaxer, until the show premiered and reporters pointed out that the man we knew as "Bruce" was in fact Alan Abel, a notorious hoaxer. You can learn a lot more about this in the special features on the Private Dicks DVD, which includes a follow-up interview with Alan Abel.

Most recently, you've directed Our House, which is about kids of gay and lesbian parents, and Red Hook Justice, about a progressive court in that Brooklyn neighborhood. What are you working on now?
Thom's most recent doc is Loving Cheating, about monogamy and infidelity, now out on DVD.

Now that you've done breasts and penises, what's next, buns?
I was one of the producers on Eve Ensler's HBO special The Vagina Monologues, so after that trilogy, I think I'm ready to retire from the body-parts business.

Related Links: