Synopsis by Mark Deming
Maggie Tapert grew up as a Midwestern Catholic who believed that good looks and charm would help her find approval from the men she desired. However, as she grew older, Tapert began looking inside herself for a greater sense of personal satisfaction, and she began to embrace what she called her "inner sex kitten." After exhaustive study, Tapert began teaching an intensive year-long course in radical sexual exploration, "Wings of Joy," which explored both the sacred and the temporal needs for sex and how to achieve the pleasure one needs through a wide variety of techniques. Tapert's daughter, filmmaker Sarah Gonser, began work on a documentary about her mother and her unconventional life, but as Gonser and her collaborator Lance Kruger started capturing Tapert's life on video, Maggie found herself going through a variety of life crises, as her husband contracted a life-threatening illness and time began taking an inevitable toll on her appearance and the couple's sexual drive. Gonser and Kruger's film Waking Aphrodite soon became a story about how age can change the stakes in issues of love, self-acceptance, and sexual pleasure, whether you're a typical grandmother or a self-described "sacred prostitute." Waking Aphrodite received its world premiere at the 2007 Silverdocs Film Festival, a festival for documentary cinema sponsored in part by the American Film Institute.