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“Good vibrations” was the secret code that friends of Goop founder and CEO Gwyneth Paltrow could whisper at the Netflix security gate in Hollywood on Tuesday evening to gain access to a private screening and reception with Paltrow for The Goop Lab. The new six-episode series debuts on Netflix on Friday.
On hand for the party — where aphrodisiac-inspired treats were passed and guests posed for selfies in front of a giant vulva made of pink roses, mirroring the show’s poster art — were Goop chief content officer and show co-host Elise Loehnen, Paltrow’s husband Brad Falchuk, Violet Grey founder Cassandra Grey, jewelry designer Jennifer Meyer, Sara Foster and other friends.
Wearing a cropped white bustier top and matching wide-leg trousers from her G. Label fashion brand, Paltrow chatted with The Hollywood Reporter in advance of the screening of the episode titled “The Pleasure is Ours.”
Joining Paltrow and Loehnen onscreen in the episode is 90-year-old feminist sex educator Betty Dodson, who wields a “vaginal barbell” and a Magic Wand vibrator as she schools on orgasms; then a slideshow displays a variety of female genitalia to shock-and-awe effect. Beauty standards and the unrealistic portrayal of female bodies and sexuality in porn and some Hollywood films are among the topics discussed, adding up to “a culture of shame” around female genitalia and female pleasure.
Asked about her efforts to move the needle on the topic of female sexuality, particularly in the #MeToo era, Paltrow tells THR, “I think it’s emerged as an important role for me in my 40s to be a voice for women and to help women find their voices, to eliminate shame, to go first — just to create space where people can say how they’re feeling about what happened to them, or who they are, or what they want with their sexuality. I really relish that role in my life, and I hope that we’ll always be a provocateur like that in terms of opening peoples’ minds and making people question things.”
She adds, “Goop is so popular because we talk about this stuff. We ask the questions. We all deserve to have that experience of getting closer to what we want and who we are.”
Introducing the episode to the crowd, Paltrow summed up the series as taking “a deeper dive” into “Goopy” subjects. Among them are cold therapy (from “snowga,” or snow yoga, to plunging into Lake Tahoe in the winter), psychic readings, energy healing, magic mushroom healing, and the topic of the evening: female sexuality.
“It’s funny, based on the reaction in the media, you’d think this is something insane…where you’re tied up!” she exclaims of the reaction since the release of the trailer and key art. “What we try to do, even if we sometimes have to go first and get some thorns as we whack through the brush, is to really create a space where we eliminate shame by asking the questions for you.”
Responding to Goop’s tendency to be a lightning rod for criticism, particularly in terms of scientific backing of its claims, and despite the show’s disclaimer (“designed to entertain and inform, not provide medical advice”), Paltrow says, “We’re at a place with a lot of media, where certain models of media aren’t working, so people have realized that if they attach what they say to Goop or me, they’ll get a lot of clickbait. And it’s just a monetization strategy at this point, basically. It’s great for us, because we don’t want to be a brand that isn’t moving culture forward. We’re OK with being polarizing.”
Addressing the subject matter, she continues: “The thing is that the actual content is not outrageous, whatsoever. There’s a lot of science behind a lot of what we talk about in these episodes. Certain things, like energy healing— yeah, there are not double-blind studies around what it quantitatively does or does not do, but people have been practicing it for thousands of years. There’s healing in hands and in hearts. There is an interesting discussion to have around what parts are backed by science, what parts are ancient practices, and what parts are modalities that actually make people feel a lot better. So that’s a discussion in and of itself!”
On the eve of Harvey Weinstein’s criminal trial, Paltrow — who was one of the first actresses to bravely speak out with sexual misconduct claims against him — also shares that she has no hope for any particular outcome, such as jail time. “I don’t think about that stuff,” she tells THR. “I understand why people are looking and watching the trial with so much interest, because it’s come to be very representative of the culmination of this movement. But I don’t think about it like that, really.”
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