When you get all fidgety in your seat after watching a steamy sequence on the big screen, imagine what the actors who filmed it might have had to go through. And FYI! Faking pleasure for someone you are not involved with and in front of more than a hundred people is not flattering. The choreography of sex scenes is unglamorous and it’s mostly all about camera angles. From dry humping to getting nude in front of a complete stranger, awkward scenes and embarrassing moments have to be recreated so many times.
Contrary to how erotic, natural and effortless they seem, shooting sex scenes can be emotionally taxing for the actors involved. And it’s hot on the sets. Not ‘steamy’ hot like you are made to believe. Just plain humid hot! All the raunchy moments that have a dream-like quality on the screen, are actually the sum total of nude-coloured underwear, full-body makeup, and prosthetics. Being an actor is not just about glamour and romancing hot stars. Here’s the truth about how those sultry sex scenes are actually filmed.
Well, performance anxiety is an actual thing. Sexual arousal doesn’t always come easy. And imagine pretending to do it in front of like a zillion cameras, flashlights, and strangers. An anonymous actor revealed that he clarifies his approach to his acting partner while filming intimate scenes: “Sorry if I do, sorry if I don’t, in terms of erections. That way, if it does pop up, she won’t be afraid that it’s going beyond acting. If it doesn’t, she won’t feel rejected.” In a romantic/sexually charged environment, accidents can happen. Let’s just call it an ‘occupational hazard’. *wink*
Yup, this sounds like quite a horrific ordeal for silver screen starlets. Actresses use bikini bites – a unique fabric fastener that provides holding power for hours – to cover their genitals when they are on their period. And the bikini bite can come on and off if they need to change their tampons, but it’s an adhesive so it kind of sucks anyway.
Yeah! The actors don’t sweat because they are caught in the heat of the moment. Rather, the makeup artists make sure to bring out the passion in the scene by drenching the actors in artificial sweat. First of all, ew! “There are different ways we can make actors look sweaty,” says makeup artist Rocio Jahanbakhsh. “It depends on if the director wants dripping sweat or if they just want the actors to look sweaty without saturation. If it’s just the look of oily skin, I put Vaseline on their faces. When it comes to the body… I’ve used baby oil mixed with water,” she says.
Full-body makeup is a trick of the trade. Sometimes the actors have pimples and tattoos on their skin that have to be covered up entirely with makeup to achieve that ‘sensual glow’ that the director wants. That makeup becomes like a second skin. The actors can’t really put on robes between the scenes to cover themselves up because the makeup/spray tan might rub off on clothes, bedding, furniture, or other actors. *sigh*
Merkin, the vagina wig, is a concept that originated in medieval times when pubic lice ravaged women in 1450, forcing them to wear fake hair down there. However, some actors have worn vagina wigs for a different reason altogether. Certain directors wanted merkins to be used in sex scenes for authenticity. Kate Winslet wore one in The Reader, and one was donned by Dakota Jonson in Fifty Shades Of Grey. Makeup artist Sharpe, who affectionately calls merkins ‘pussy wigs’ has applied them so many times that she had a sweatshirt made to commemorate this part of her craft. “I’ve definitely been up in people’s business,” she says jokingly.
Some actors aren’t comfortable going ‘all bare’ in front of the camera to shoot sex scenes. That is when the body doubles coming in. These faceless actors who step up do all the heavy lifting should be lauded for their guts. An actor (who chose to remain anonymous) filled in for a certain Hollywood star to shoot a sex scene in a TV series. “It was a lot of different Kama Sutra positions and whatnot,” he says. “It was five or six hours of filming, and I had skinned knees, bruises, and plasters on my knees for days.” Ouch!
Every actor isn’t comfortable filming ‘au naturel’ during intimate scenes. Sarah Basta, an on-set costumer, says, “There are a few things we always have in our kit: the cock sock, the snatch patch. A cock sock is a skin-coloured pouch that he puts all of his stuff in; it has a drawstring on it. You put your junk in there and then you double-knot it. While women wear a landing-strip-like patch stuck on with either double-stick tape or waterproof roll-on adhesives.”
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