Freedom Tickler
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Freedom Tickler


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"Valley Native’s Band Seen in New Soderbergh Film"

By Guy D’Astolfo

A Mahoning Valley native’s band can be seen performing in filmmaker Steven Soderbergh’s new film, “The Girlfriend Experience,” which opens May 22.

Cody Hoover, who grew up in Greenford and graduated from South Range High School in 2001, lives in New York City, where he co-founded the band Freedom Tickler with Meriam Benezra. The two sometimes play together on subway platforms for donations, and it was during one such performance that they caught the eye and ear of Soderbergh’s scouts.

“Meriam and I had been performing almost every night at a couple different subway stations in Brooklyn and Manhattan,” said Hoover. “It was our only source of income at the time.

“Someone from the film saw us while we were performing in the subway in the East Village and asked us to come to Union Square two days later and perform on camera. We didn’t really believe him because a lot of people in New York City like to blow out the hot air they are filled with. But the next day a nice lady from the film called us up.”

“The Girlfriend Experience” is a drama set in the days leading up to the 2008 presidential election. It is centered around a high-end Manhattan call girl who must juggle the challenges of her boyfriend, her clients and her work. The lead role is played by Sasha Grey, an adult film star.

Soderbergh’s best-known work as a director includes the films “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Erin Brockovich,” “Traffic” and “Sex, Lies and Videotape.”

In “The Girlfriend Experience,” Hoover and Benezra can be seen playing their song “Hot Tub” in Union Square. Hoover said he saw the movie April 28 when it premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

Hoover played in a number of bands while attending South Range High School. “My first band was called The Ignorantz,” he said. “We covered Dead Kennedys songs and wrote our own songs about not liking hippies and cops. We played shows in basements and American Legions around Columbiana and Mahoning counties.”

After graduating from South Range, he stayed in the area and worked at a few different jobs while taking classes at Youngstown State University, and later, Kent State University.

Hoover moved to Brooklyn in 2006 to further his music career. He and Benezra founded Freedom Tickler in October 2007. The two remain the core of the band, whose lineup is rounded out by a collective of musicians. - Youngstown Vindicator


Freedom Tickler EP 2010

Freedom Tickler appeared in the Steven Soderbergh film "The Girlfriend Experience", performing their song "Hot Tub".



Freedom Tickler was formed in Brooklyn, NY in 2007 by Cody Hoover and Meriam Benezra. They began writing songs and playing together on the streets, in the subways, bars, and art galleries. Down in the subway on 1st Ave Manhattan, during one of these underground performances, Freedom Tickler was spotted by a scout for Steven Soderbergh's film "The Girlfriend Experience". Benezra and Hoover appeared in the film as themselves, singing their song "Hot Tub" on the sidewalk. Since then their song has traveled to theaters and televisions around the world. They are currently based in Mendocino County, California.

They sing in English, they sing in Spanish. They play Western Gypsy Psychedelic, Rock and Roll Poetry, Pulp Non-Fiction!

"The use of the Freedom Tickler band carries the attitude of bringing this story out in the open, public spaces; much like Soderbergh’s debut feature did about aberrant sexualities." -Dear Cinema