Orgasm Inc Premieres in 11 U.S. Cities

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Filmmaker Liz Canner, who took a job editing erotic videos for a cream to enhance orgasms, got a voyeur's view of how desperately the pharmaceutical industry wants to find the female equivalent of Viagra.

Now, her documentary, "Orgasm Inc.," which takes viewers behind the scenes in that quest, premieres in theaters in 11 U.S. cities -- New York and Chicago on Feb. 11, and in Los Angeles and San Francisco in April, as well as seven other cities, including Ottawa.

It all began in 2002, when Canner took a job with the California-based pharmaceutical company Vivus, which was using her videos to show to women in early clinical trials for a new orgasm drug called Alista.

The timing couldn't have been better: http://www.pfizer.com/home/?source=google&HBX_PK=s_pfizer&HBX_OU=50&o=41962183|218826469|0" target="external">Pfizer had come out with Viagra for men in the late 1990s, and Vivus was scrambling to find a female equivalent. As Canner intercut ocean scenes with descriptions of the clitoris, she began to wonder if company executives were testing a female sex drug for which they didn't yet have a disease.

Soon, she said she realized her employer -- and perhaps the pharmaceutical industry at large -- might be selling women a potentially dangerous product. So Canner switched gears, and with the permission of Vivus, began her own project.

In Orgasm Inc.," her first feature documentary, Canner explores the creation of female sexual dysfunction and the billions of dollars the pharmaceutical companies have poured into promoting drugs to healthy women.

"I didn't intend to make an expose, I was tired of making these kinds of films," Canner told ABCNews.com when the film garnered buzz last year. "I expected one thing and I found something else. I could keep to my original idea or be honest."

Instead, director and producer Canner took a serious, but sometimes comical look at the medicalization of women's sexuality -- from the invention of the Dr. Stuart Meloy's "

orgasmatron" for on-demand climax to cosmetic vaginal reconstruction -- all in the name of some new kind of normalcy.

As the film opens, Canner introduces Charletta, a middle-aged woman who, incredibly, has agreed to have electrode wires inserted in her spine to help her achieve an orgasm. She hopes Meloy's orgasmatron device will help her end the "the war inside my head."

"Not only am I not normal, I am diseased," says Charletta.

Going under the knife in her elusive quest for sexual satisfaction underscores Canner's mantra that the medical world is tampering with women's health, creating a culture of pill-popping without regard to side effects, all the while contributing to higher health care costs.

Canner argues that most of women's sex problems arise from bad relationships, sex abuse, lack of sex education and working too much. Who says, she asks, that there is a normal number of times a week a woman should have sexual thoughts or an orgasm?

"There is very little physiologically that affects a woman's sex drive," she said. "They are making a culture where women feel discontent and think they have a disorder when they don't."

Study Finds 42 Percent of Women Have Sexual Dysfunction

Meanwhile, Vivus executives turned their attention to women's physiology and an untapped market in need of a cure.

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