Sex scenes in movies often make viewers wonder how actors manage to show so much passion. But few people realize that their favorite erotic scene can actually be a real sexual act. This happens rarely, but real sex still sneaks into the movie industry.
Real sex in movies is one of the most interesting and taboo topics at the same time. First adult films appeared at the dawn of cinema but soon became a separate genre. Since the 70’s, porn got out from underground, and many traditional movie directors began to include erotic scenes in their works. The reason for this is quite simple – attracting viewers. Every movie with sex scenes gains incredible popularity, ending up in the center of several scandals at the same time. This always has a positive effect on the box office.
But still, despite the arguments of opponents of sex in feature films, intimate scenes in them can’t be compared to porn, where the main emphasis is put on physical contact. In feature films, sex serves as a tool for strengthening the emotional connection between the characters, boosting the effect of viewer involvement in what’s happening on the screen. You can see the difference for yourself and check out one of the ten mainstream movies with unsimulated sex.
10) Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971)
Indie director Melvin Van Peebles knew exactly what he needed when he wrote the script, filmed and edited the movie about the misadventures of a black sex machine named Sweet Sweetback. The protagonist broke many of the genre taboos that existed in the early 1970s: he killed dogs and policemen, urinated and, of course, had sex, including interracial. Such atrocities, as well as real sex in mainstream movies, were unacceptable, getting an actor for such a role was impossible. So the director himself played the main role, performing several sexual acts with people he barely knew in front of the camera. As it turned out, the result was worth it: Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song became one of the most commercially successful and debated films of 1971, creating a whole new subgenre called blaxploitation.
9) Pink Flamingos (1972)
This famous John Waters’ film about two freak families is strictly not recommended for light porn fans: your nerves might not survive such stress. Since the director’s goal was to cause the emetic reflex, the methods and techniques were appropriate: sex, masturbation, blowjobs, defecation, and so on. The film is packed with so many disgusting scenes that it makes other movies with real sex scenes look like Disney cartoons.
8) Caligula (1979)
Those who are not familiar with the history of the creation of Caligula may wonder how Tinto Brass managed to get such actors as Malcolm McDowell, John Gielgud, Peter O’Toole, and Helen Mirren to play in a porn movie. Everything is quite simple: despite Brass’s reputation, the film wasn’t supposed to be pornographic – the director really planned to make a historical movie about the bloody Roman emperor, and all the sex he filmed was simulated. But when the sponsor (Penthouse magazine publisher Bob Guccione) demanded to include some ‘true hardcore’ in the film (back then, scenes with unsimulated sex in movies could increase the price of tickets), Brass refused and was fired. Then Guccione himself sat in the director’s chair and filmed additional six minutes of pure pornography, which was pretty roughly mounted in the finished product without warning other actors about it.
7) Cruising (1980)
This one is a bit different from other movies with real sex. William Friedkin’s thriller about a serial killer, who dismembers gays, became a thing not only because of Al Pacino’s participation in it but also due to gay sex scenes the director filmed in a few gay clubs. According to Friedkin, all of them were real, and initially, the New York gays he met at bars helped him collect the material for the film and played in it. Friedkin paid these guys as extras, but in fact, they were just hanging out near the spots where he was shooting the film. The studios that financed Cruising weren’t enthusiastic about the movie (which, by the way, almost got the X rating) and forced the director to get rid of most sex scenes.
But the film still failed at the box office – it’s believed that it was Cruising that scored the last nail in the coffin of the New Hollywood era which gave many independent filmmakers money to make movies ‘not for everyone.’ The cut scenes were later restored by James Franco in the documentary Interior. Leather Bar.
6) Irreversible (2002)
We know what you are thinking about, but no. We’ll have to disappoint you: the famous ten-minute scene of Monica Bellucci’s anal rape in the underpass which helped Gaspar Noe make a career is an imitation from the first to the last second. But the film features other unsimulated moments, such as blowjobs and masturbation. Noe is a fan of explicit sex in mainstream movies – you can spot a few hardcore scenes in almost each of his films, from his debut work Seul Contre Tous to different short films. In Enter the Void, he managed to show a sexual act from the inside with the help of photorealistic computer animation. By the way, the erotic scene starring Bellucci and Vincent Cassel was also real because at the time the film was in production, the actors were married.
5) Ken Park (2002)
This, perhaps, is one of the best movies with unsimulated sex on this list. After the scandalous but not so pornographic movie Kids that depicted the sexual life of teens, Larry Clark filmed Ken Park in which he made his characters go through cunnilingus, blowjob, masturbation, group sex, and other porn stuff shown close-up. Given the rather young age of the actors, who had to participate in sexual activities, the film caused quite a stir in the press and was banned in several countries, including the United States. The director’s arguments (he assured that all the actors were 18 and older during the production of the movie) changed little in the eyes of the most part of the conservative society. It turns out that people still believe that teenagers can have sex if they want, but showing it in cinemas is wrong.
4) The Brown Bunny (2003)
No one would have remembered this film today if it wasn’t for Chloe Sevigny. The main actor and film director Vincent Gallo (who was also the producer and scriptwriter) managed to persuade the actress to blow him in a close-up scene. At the Cannes Film Festival, The Brown Bunny received so much criticism that Gallo promised to quit film directing, but he didn’t. The movie was so bad that Sevigny is still suffering the consequences – for the next 10 years after the film release, she has been telling about how much she regrets taking part in this project. It turns out that films with real sex can really damage an actor’s career.
Today, in the era of celeb iPhone hacks, erotic videos starring famous actresses are a common thing, but at the beginning of the 2000’s, such scandals were new, so Chloe suffered a lot. The fact that her heroine was a drug addict, and a blowjob scene happened only in Gallo’s imagination, little changed: it looked more than real on the big screen. Thousands of viewers, who still download this film just to see this very scene, can prove this.
3) 9 Songs (2004)
The third spot on our list of mainstream movies with real sex goes to 9 Songs. There’s an opinion that the trend for films where sex covers the shortcomings of directing and acting began with the erotic drama 9 songs by Michael Winterbottom. Unsimulated sex between the heroes of Kiran O’Brien and Margo Stilley included everything that we usually see in porn: classic and oral sex, ejaculation, and other undisguised attributes of the genre.
The actors had the opportunity to ‘rehearse’ before the shooting (some of this material was later included in the film), after which they agreed to the main shootings, but when the camera was turned off, O’Brien and Stilly weren’t interested in each other at all. The relations shown in the film were recognized by most critics as weak, and the plot didn’t exist at all (this really wasn’t the film’s strongest point). In addition, the British Parliament angrily judged the director, who decided to jeer at public tastes with the question ‘Why can’t we show real sex scenes in movies? It’s just as natural as eating!’ The model, who played the main role, asked to remove her name from the credits before the release. Later, however, she stopped avoiding publicity: no matter how weak the film was, for her, it was a start of a rather successful acting career.
2) Shortbus (2006)
In his romcom about the New York club of sex lovers, John Cameron Mitchell managed to show a full range of adult pleasures, from masturbation and group sex to, well, autofellatio. The fact that all orgasms in Shortbus are real became clear to the audience right at the premiere. The director himself said that he didn’t consider the film pornographic, as pornography is characterized by the lack of artistic tasks. Its purpose is to arouse sexual desire. He didn’t think that anyone would have an erection while watching his film.
Porn or not, but celebrities can rarely afford to have unsimulated sex in mainstream movies. That’s why it took a lot of time until the director found the right people for the job: Mitchell had to search through five hundred potential candidates from different countries before he found enough actors ready to leave shame aside and do what was needed. To create the right atmosphere on set, Mitchell and the operator worked naked. Despite that the film was shot beautifully and even had a rather entertaining story, the conservative public was somewhat surprised by the amount of sex in the film. Canadian radio presenter Lee Suk-Yin, who played one of the leading roles, even almost lost her job after the release of Shortbus. Fortunately, Francis Ford Coppola liked the film, and his reputation helped Mitchell fend off haters.
1) Nymphomaniac: Vol. I (2013)
In this decade, unsimulated sex in films is still popular. Lars von Trier became famous as a pornographer thanks to Nymphomaniac that featured a lot of sexual acts involving stars, but in fact, one can find pornographic elements in his earlier works, as well. For example, in the drama The Idiots, the main characters, supposedly mentally ill people, throw a group sex party, and Antichrist demonstrates close-up penetration. According to the producer, the most erotic moments were filmed with extras involved, but despite this, rumors claim that Willem Defoe’s sex with Charlotte Gainsbourg in Antichrist was quite real. Besides, after the premiere, Shia LaBeouf, whose head, according to Nymphomaniac press release, was photoshopped to someone else’s torso, admitted in an interview that the scene with him wasn’t edited. In general, you can argue whose penis we saw on the screen, but the fact that all of the above-mentioned films contained sex scenes is beyond question.