Sex Scenes and Steve

02 October 2011


I wasn’t raised in the Bible Belt and wasn’t whipped with it either. Growing tall as the oldest of six children in a relatively conservative by-the-book east coast family served me well for most of my life. That was until I was incessantly bullied and taunted in eighth grade for my lack of sexual knowledge. Middle school kids are the worst. I never had any talks with my parents about those things. I don’t count it as a personal affliction, though, because worse things have happened and I’m not too sure much of our generation had those talks anyway. I guess I just found out later than most. I wasn’t allowed to watch R-rated movies until I was 17 and even that wasn’t accomplished through a parental right of passage. I just started borrowing them from the library and my parents reacted by mutely internalizing their true feelings. I didn’t acquire a craving for movies with more expletives and sex, but I inevitably found them anyway.

The following are a few movies that had a sex scene or two that were imprinted in my head not because of the sex, but because of the situational context. I was entangled in. Con-sext. Nope, doesn’t work.

Milk (2008)

My mother’s movie taste buds tend to sway towards Tyler Perry and Sandra Bullock movies, so getting her to sit with my dad and I to watch any movie with even a slight hint of art is a triumph. I felt proud getting her to sit down and watch There Will Be Blood and A Streetcar Name Desire the whole way through. She hated both. The next time the three of us sat on the couch happened to be the first time I watched a sex scene with my parents. It was while watching Sean Penn’s soon to be award-winning portrayal of Harvey Milk. Being a Van Sant movie, the one main sex scene between Milk and his lead boy was mellow and artsy but understated and weirdly visceral, and then just super awkward at the my rock bottom realization of Mother and Father flanked at both my sides watching along with me.


Raging Bull (1980)

This is a fun one. Apparently the real Jake La Motta that the book and film were based on would have his girlfriend give him a slow blowy before a boxing match and then pour ice water down his pants just before lift off to preserve his inner energy and testosterone induced power. I would usually watch anything in the Scorsese canon late at night, but for some reason I watched Raging Bull around six o’clock when my mom was making dinner. I was really hoping during this scene my mom would call me to dinner instead of coming into my room and seeing what was on the screen.



Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

When talking about Eyes Wide Shut you can’t talk about “sex scenes” because really this is a “sex movie.” I may or may not have been completely in a straight state of mind during my first viewing, and you can take that as whatever you’d like it to be, but it just exaggerated the terror and psychological pounding this movie can lend. The nutty static cult scenes drove me nuts. As in, out of my chair, pulling my hair out, questioning everything, driving me nuts. The sex and nudity is pretty graphic, but in a weird way it’s not really sexualized. Most of the film moves with dreamlike pacing and framing (normal for Kubrik) so the group “public” sexing really threw me a curveball.



The Hustler (1961)

Definitely the most emotional reaction a movie’s sex scene ever pulled out of me, and there isn’t even much of a scene. Piper Laurie is amazing as this functioning drunken damsel. She initially hangs around Paul Newman, but of course her and ol’ blue eyes get in a tiff and she ends up screwing his sly mentor George C. Scott, seeming to wound both Newman and herself. Post-coitus, with Scott still sweaty in bed, she walks to the bathroom with this tired stone face, takes out a lipstick, and writes on the mirror, “Perverted, Twisted, Crippled”. That got me between the ribs. You want to condemn her for it, but you just can’t. I felt for her and that blank look she has is really filled with layers of emotion. This scene was probably filled with so much striking power due to it being devoid of an actual sex scene, and I think more films should take advantage of that.


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