If you think those steamy, iconic sex scenes from Eyes Wide Shut, Ghost and The Titanic just occurred that beautifully and naturally, you're wrong. In fact, sex scenes are often the most choreographed and planned-out scenes in the entire movie. Not to ruin the mood for you or anything, but next time you find yourself holding your breath during a particularly hot hookup, remember these 12 industry secrets to the perfect sex scene.
Private parts get covered.
If you ever find your eyes searching for a glimpse of Ryan's Gosling's manhood, don't get your hopes up. On-set costumer for HBO's Big Love and Netflix's upcoming series G.L.O.W., Sarah Basta told Cosmopolitan "there are a few things we always have in our kit: the cock sock, the snatch patch." Excuse me?
"A cock sock is a skin-colored pouch that he puts all of his stuff in; it has a drawstring on it. You put all of the things in there and then you double-knot it," she says. "Double knotting is everything."
As for that "snatch patch," it's a landing strip attached with "double-stick tape or this great product called Bikini Bite, which is a water-proof roll-on adhesive."
One actor, who chose not to give his name, says that sometimes nature takes its toll and awkward boners happen — and then sometimes they don't. He uses the following technique to put his partner at ease: "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."
Even experienced actors feel awko-taco about sex scenes.
No matter how many sex scenes you film, it's not going to be easy. Just ask Natalie Dormer from HBO's Game of Thrones — a show certainly not averse to sex scenes.
“Anyone who says they’re laid-back about sex scenes is a fibber,” Dormer said. “The choreography of a sex scene is so unsexy and unglamorous, it’s all about camera angles, you have to recreate the moment so many times. It’s just timing and technical.”
Rosamund Pike also opened up to Seth Meyers about feeling awkward during her and Neil Patrick Harris' sex scene in Gone Girl.
“That is when it feels highly inappropriate,” she added. “You’re alone with a man who’s not your husband who also has a husband ... he’s in his underwear, you’re in your underwear and you’re sort of dry humping on a bed.”
If you're on your period during filming, sucks for you.
Remember the eloquently-named "snatch patch" from earlier? It gets stuck on with some pretty tough adhesive, so if you need to run to the bathroom to change your tampon, it might not be a successful trip. “Poor thing,” Basta said. “There’s only so much we can do.”
Choreographers are called in for backup.
As in dance choreographers. Hey, there's a reason sex looks so much more graceful on the big screen than it does in real life. New York-based choreographer Tricia Brouk has been brought on to help map out scenes. She'll first choreograph the hook-up with herself and another dancer, and then she'll show the "dance" to the actors and director. Then she'll teach the scene to the actor while she plays their partner.
“Nothing is left to chance,” she told Cosmo, “so that no one feels like they are being groped, which could make an actor feel unsafe and therefore unable to be present in the scene.”
Yup, body doubles are used.
Turns out that mental image you keep tucked away of Chris Pine's back might not be totally accurate — especially if the hookup involves some pretty advanced moves. The same nameless actor from above said he filled in for a certain Hollywood Hunk in an upcoming 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 Band-Aids on my knees for days,” he said.
The perfect sex toy is hard to come by.
Well, like, duh. But finding that fine line between toys that are too racy and too obscure can be a tough job for Tom Cahill, a prop master currently working on CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
"Because of Standards and Practices, network television will have a large input as far as the type of toys that can be seen on the screen,” he said. “I had a bachelorette party scene [once] that was scripted for a television show, and the girls were supposed to pull out various toys. I must have sent 100 images of different vibrators to the S&P department before we came up with eight to 10 that we could use. None of them were the typical-looking dildo or vibrator.”
Full-body makeup is a trick of the trade.
The reason being? It's like a second skin. Makeup artist Brigette Myre Sharpe, who's worked on HBO's True Blood and USA's Colony, says she prefers a spray tan to full-body makeup. “If you spray tan yourself to within an inch of your life, you feel like you’re wearing more clothes,” she says.
So is fake sweat.
As beautiful as actors are, you don't actually think they sweat so daintily, do you? According to makeup artist Rocio Jahanbakhsh (Mischa Barton’s Deserted; the upcoming film Burn), there are a multitude of ways to make an actor look sweaty. “It depends on if the director wants dripping sweat or if they just want the actors to look sweaty without saturation,” she says. “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.” (Idea for your next post-workout selfie? Check.)
Wardrobe malfunctions are pretty common.
Even though costumers do their best to cover up the goods when necessary, it doesn't always go as planned. Ryan Reynolds told Jay Leno about a sex scene in The Change-Up when Olivia Wilde played a prank on him and left him speechless.
“So, in the scene, she’s sitting there and I take her top off and the bra off, and she has those pasties on, but she’s drawn these adorable little smiley faces on them,” the actor explained. “And I forget every line in the scene — not just from this movie but from every other movie I’ve done.”
“At some point in the scene she takes my hands and puts them on her breasts,” he said. “So, they’re there. Palms (are) a little sweaty. I don’t know what’s happening. … And I’m trying not to look at her like a 14-year-old boy that just won the lady lottery.”
“I take my hands away and I look down at my hands and there’s two frickin’ smiley faces on them and I have no idea what to do. The scene is over now. … And I reflexively, like an idiot, just put my hands right back on her breasts. And I think I’m doing it to cover them up, but I’m realizing now that it’s a very fine line between chivalry and, you know, workplace sexual assault.”
Actors usually cover up afterward.
When the director yells "cut," costumers are usually waiting with robes and slippers for the exposed (and probably chilly!) actors.
Fake pubic hair is a thing.
Ever heard of a merkin? It's a crotch-cover for 18th-century prostitutes that's still around today — just with a different name. Makeup artist Sharpe told Cosmo that she affectionately calls them "p---y wigs."
"I’ve definitely been up in people’s business," she said with a laugh. "My number one priority is making the actors feel as comfortable as possible, which in turn makes them feel more sexy."