Having sex with a new partner can be shameful enough in real life – imagine that you do it on the screen. Enter Alicia Rodis, ready to help the actors and producers save their blushes, as well as possible lawsuits
"Alicia (above) makes the sex scenes easy and comfortable", says Emily Meade, who plays a porn star in The Deuce television series, about the rise of the adult pornographic industry in New York. 70s
Alicia Rodis faked her first orgasm for hundreds of people at just 17. That was long before I actually had an orgasm with someone in real life, & # 39; she says. Alicia performed in a play in her local theater, but no one gave her any coaching for that scene. & # 39; The director's attitude was simply: "OK, go!" "She remembers." People tell actors that they ought to be a professional & # 39 ;, but there is no professional protocol for simulated sex.
However, Alicia, now 36, changes all that as the first and foremost intimacy coordinator & # 39; of the entertainment industry, and ensures that actors on the screen have great sex or at least look at it. Her role is not shady – this is not pornography – but just like with sex on screen, having sex on the screen can be difficult and difficult to talk about.
& # 39; I know people who, in their lifelike intimate moments, can not manage to say: & # 39; Can I stick my hand out here? Are you comfortable with that? "And we ask actors to do it, often naked, with someone they might not even know," she says.So, partly counselor, partly negotiator and part choreographer, Alicia, who was hired by cable channel HBO for his drama The Deuce (which takes place in the porn industry in New York in the 1970s), takes away the awkwardness from sex scenes and helps avoid the possible legal and emotional pitfalls when nudity, camera's and feigned passion are involved.
In the New York series, Alicia's role is based on the prosaic practical, including the provision of breaths, antiseptic wipes and pads with which actors can kneel to ensure that they do not get bruised during simulated sexual acts.
Margaret Judson, an actress in The Deuce – who also shines Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Franco – described Alicia as a companion on a ball. She made sure the man who played opposite me cleared his hands before we started, and wiped them off after every stroke, "she said. & # 39; She has constantly contacted me, brought water and coffee and peppermints. She also choreographed some movements, just like a stunt director. & # 39;
Alicia is also responsible for the entertaining but important task of looking for replacements for what is known in the trade, rather indelicately, as & # 39; sn **** patches & # 39; and & # 39; c *** socks & # 39; The costuming of sex scenes has long left much to be desired – thin pieces of nude tissue are often their size. & # 39; They need a barrier between those who are not just a piece of fabric & # 39 ;, says Alicia, who has ordered clothes made with robust stuff, & so that the scene partner does not have to know if someone is the erection or not. know. & # 39; This is not uncommon; Involuntary & vascular reactions & # 39; are a professional risk, says Alicia – and they are generally not discouraged. & # 39; If there is anything, actors are told to & # 39; feel & # 39; when they occur, & # 39; she says.
To avoid such situations, Alicia acts as an intermediary between actors, directors and producers who negotiate the exact terms of each sex scene, from the amount of nudity to certain movements. & # 39; For example, & # 39 ;, she says, & # 39; the rider [contract] for a single scene will say: "Player A agrees to simulate oral sex, on her knees, to a male actor, in the absence of doubt there will be no nudity." (No, it is not at all sexy if you split it that way.) If an actor is not satisfied with something, Alicia gives them the confidence to say & # 39; no & # 39; and help them find a solution.
& # 39; So many people outside the industry say to me, "Oh, I thought they just had sex," she says, rolling her eyes, in fact, that steamy spontaneous clinch was probably created in a drafty studio surrounded by by a dozen crewmembers, and repeated a multi-take motion, actors have long made no secret of the inconvenience and cringe-inducing grind (no wordplay) of filming sex scenes. "Roger Moore would have said to his fellow players: & # 39 I want to apologize now if I get an erection … And if I do not. & # 39; After filming Gone Girl, Rosamund Pike said about her sex scene with Neil Patrick Harris: & # 39; You're with a man who is not your husband who also has a husband, he's in his underwear, you're in your underwear, and you're sleeping on a bed. "Jennifer Lawrence said she was guilty of the prospect of a sex scene with the then married Chris Pratt for the 20 16 Passengers.
Actress Emily Meade knew something had to change. After securing the role of Lori, a prostitute-altered-rising porn star in The Deuce, she refused at the prospect of performing X-rated scenes daily. "The idea of playing such a role every week with little preparation, which is the nature of TV, was very anxious for me," she said. Based on this, the channel hired Alicia, who helped Emily build intimacy and trust with her co-star. She conducted eye-to-eye contact exercises and "consensual hand touch & # 39; off – when one person grasps the other hand and places it on the spot where it is on the body during the scene. & # 39; It turned out to be easy and comfortable, & # 39; said Emily, joking that Alicea could accompany her on all of her dates.
Alicia spent a large part of her career carrying out and coordinating stunt work, mainly in theater and independent film, and the parallels are close, she says: both sex scenes and fight scenes must come across as realistic and natural. But while nobody would tell two actors that they are just going to beat each other, she says, in sex scenes, historically, directors have done just that. In the absence of input or direction, actors are forced to simulate what they would do in real life. What, if you think about it, is a little weird: if you hit a colleague to take something after taking, you would probably blush the worst among us.
And the results were not always positive. Alicia estimates that 90 percent of performers who have played a sex scene have gained a traumatic experience. Actors and actresses experience a whole spectrum of emotions, from feeling uncomfortable to embarrassment, because no incident was ever spoken, & # 39; she says. There are also potentially serious and harmful incidents. & # 39; I know of situations where a director has told an actor that he & # 39; just have to go on & # 39; and that an actress is sexually abused & # 39 ;, she says.
I know of situations where a director has told an actor to "continue", and an actress is sexually abused
The subject has recently been brought into sharp relief by the emergence of the # MeToo movement, the campaign against sexual assault that emerged in late 2017. Practices that may have been overlooked in the past or even considered as "just what you need to do" – both by women and men – are no longer acceptable. Alicia now has fixed rules when she asks an actor or actress for permission to take part in a certain scene. & # 39; Maybe & # 39; is no & # 39 ;, & # 39; certainly & # 39; is no & # 39 ;, she says. & # 39; Only if they can look me in the eye and give me an enthusiastic & # 39; yes & # 39; can give, we are good to go. & # 39;
Alicia grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and started working with local productions at the age of 12. She studied drama at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, where she performed many fight scenes that led her to stunt work in theater and film. However, she does not just talk about quarrels or jumping from the windows. I kept on being called to help with sexual assault and rape, & # 39; she says, & # 39; and I realized that there were no protocols. & # 39;
In 2016, together with two other actors / movement teachers, she founded the non-profit Intimacy Directors International to draw up standards for intimate scenes in theater, film and TV, and to help implement them. Their guidelines and techniques are not only derived from stunt work, but also from less obvious ways. I borrowed from people who work in the swinging world and organize sex parties & # 39 ;, she says. One hostess told her about a game that helps people practice asking an uncomfortable question and says no to it. Participants all write a sexual act on a piece of paper and place it in a bowl. Everyone must read one and ask another member of the group if they are concerned with that specific action; the other person must say no. Alicia plays the same games with the actors she works with, "just to let them practice with saying no – it's amazing how hard people find it to be & # 39 ;.
It is therefore not surprising that, while Hollywood strives to protect outdated rules that protect the artists for decades, Alicia is in great demand. She is now exclusively contracted for HBO and is working on the bachelor comedy Crashing, new drama Watchmen and the film of the Western TV series Deadwood. Fortunately, just like the five intimacy coordinators of the books of Intimacy Directors International, Alicia trains another 12 people in the US.
Ultimately, she hopes the industry will ask that each sex scene set has an intimacy coordinator as a stunt team. "Actors are at work", she says, "and they must have the same rights and protection that someone else would expect at work."
The scenes that caused a scandal
Strip of film
For #MeToo, here is where the directors and producers came from …
Last Tango in Paris
In 1972, actress Maria Schneider, then only 19, was kept in the dark for filming Last Tango in the notorious sex scene of Paris, in which a 48-year-old Marlon Brando uses butter as a sexual lubricant. Worryingly, director Bernardo Bertolucci reasoned that he wanted her to respond as a girl, not as an actress & # 39; Maria, who died in 2011, has admitted that she humbled herself and, frankly, raped a bit, both by Marlon and Bertolucci & # 39; felt.
The British actress Susan George says that the director of Straw Dogs from 1971, Sam Peckinpah, wanted her to have sex in the controversial double rape scene of the film. He wanted it to be completely explicit & # 39; says Susan. & # 39; He would have loved the real action. He really got into this rape scene and it scared me to death. "In the end Peckinpah, after threatening to quit, decided to temper things, so that the camera hung on her face instead of on her body.
Salma Hayek claims that producer Harvey Weinstein forced her to film a nude lesbian sex scene in Frida, the biopic of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo from 2002, and told her that if she did not do full sex sex with her co-star Ashley Judd, he would cancel the film. The actress, now 52, says she shook, wept and vomited uncontrollably during filming, and she had to take a tranquillizer to enable her to do it.