Q: I’m a young actor who is trying to get some info on the behind-the-scenes etiquette of filming a sex scene. (Cable-series sex, not adult-movie sex). I’ve done theater and some extra work in film but up to now I’ve never done sex/nudity. However, the time has come: I’m in a real sex scene and I’m not sure how to conduct myself on the set! I’d like to go in with some knowledge of common courtesies. Are there established guidelines for this? How do I find out what is or isn’t OK to say, do, touch, look at, get close to or linger around? Please tell me that somewhere in your travels you’ve met someone, read something, or know of a book that will answer these kinds of questions! —TV-MA
A: “Get the nerves out of the way right away,” suggests actor and director John Cameron Mitchell. “Say, ‘I’ve never done this before.’ Then get comfortable and try to become quick buddies. And you might as well make out a little before the filming starts since you’re going to be making out for the next 12 hours anyway.”
Mitchell has been a professional actor for 20 years and he knows more than most about filming sex scenes, having made out before the cameras with numerous women (see Girl 6, Book of Love) and the occasional man (see Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which he wrote, directed and starred in). One of the most important things you can do, according to Mitchell, is to take control of the scene. “Make it a conspiracy among the actors,” Mitchell says. “Tell the director what you want. Do you need some time alone on the set? A cleared set? Make demands.”
As for the common courtesies, Mitchell suggests you bathe, brush and floss. “But don’t floss right before filming,” he warned, “because you don’t want your gums to be bleeding.” (For the record: Bathe, brush and floss before work is good advice regardless of what you do for a living.) One quibble with your letter, TV-MA: You’ve been hired to do a sex scene in a film, not have “real sex.” American movies don’t show “real” sex, only simulated sex — not at least until John Cameron Mitchell’s next film comes out. Mitchell is currently casting his next movie, a film that will show real actors having real, nonsimulated sex. “I want to make a film that uses real sex but that is also a real film — narratively, emotionally,” Mitchell says. “The French are doing it,” in movies like Baise-Moi and Romance, “but it’s de-eroticized and pretentious. In other words, French. So why are Americans, and American filmmakers, so afraid of sex? They’re doing it in Europe. Why can’t we do it here?” Making an actual film in America that includes scenes of real sex is tough, even for a successful filmmaker like Mitchell. “Agents aren’t interested in helping us with the casting,” says Mitchell, “and actors are afraid for their careers.” So to cast his new movie, Mitchell is doing a high-tech open call. “We’re asking people to make a video in which they discuss an important sexual event in their lives,” Mitchell says. He’s looking for actors, gay and straight, “who are unique and sexy in nontradational ways. No gym insanity and no ‘television pretty,’ please.” For more information about Mitchell’s new film, the casting process, and where to send your tape, go to Mitchell’s Web site, thesexfilmproject.com. The deadline for getting a tape to Mitchell is Feb. 15.
Q: I’m an actor in New York and I’m interested in developing a theater piece that explores the world of fetishes. Would you please ask your readers to send in detailed descriptions of kinky stuff that turns them on? Age, sex, and first recollection of getting off with their particular kink would be appreciated. I would also enjoy hearing stories from people who own, work the door, handle security, or clean up at fetish clubs. Friends or family members of fetishists, people who have been struggling to give up their fetish for whatever reason, and stories of fetish scenes gone wrong are all welcome. Thanks! —Mark Setlock, email@example.com
A: Here we are, only three weeks into the new year and I’ve already done two good deeds. You’re welcome, Mark.
Q: I am hanging out at a friend’s house and he is asleep. I just logged on to his computer to download some music, and I discovered that someone has been downloading child porn on this computer. It has to be my friend — he’s (usually) the only one who uses this computer and he’s on it all the time. I don’t want to make him uncomfortable and jeopardize our friendship by confronting him about it — he’s my oldest friend — but kiddie porn is pretty serious. If it is him checking out the baby bangin’, is there a tactful way I can encourage him to get help before he turns from downloading these sick movies to making them? As his closest friend, is it better for me to forget what I saw? —Glad The Keyboard Is Not Sticky
A: What will ultimately be worse for your friend, GTKINS: Knowing that you know? Or knowing that everyone he knows knows after he gets busted for downloading and storing child porn on his computer? Downloading kiddie porn is not only a fucking immoral thing to do (consuming kiddie porn creates demand for kiddie porn which results in more kiddie porn being produced and more kiddie porn being made means more kiddies being sexually abused, exploited and raped), it’s also a fucking stupid thing to do. You can’t pick up a newspaper without reading about kiddie-porn rings and kiddie porn “consumers” getting hauled off to jail.
So, GTKINS, here’s what you need to do: March your ass into your buddy’s apartment and hand him the picture of Pete Townshend sitting in the back of a police car as investigators carry his personal computers out of his house. Then tell your buddy what you saw and insist that he A) get help and B) get a baseball bat. He needs the help so that he never, ever acts on his attraction to young kids; he needs the baseball bat so that he can smash his computer (which could be used as evidence against him) into a hundred thousand pieces. This is a very serious business, GTKINS, and your friend needs help before he destroys his own life or he destroys the life of some poor kid.
Q: Knowing that you are the expert on all things Ashton Kutcher, do you recommend Just Married (and no, not just for the fact that you get to see Ashton shirtless in bed)? Should I spend the money to see the film? —DJ
A: I’m proud to say that I helped make Just Married the No. 1 movie in America the weekend it opened. However, I cannot recommend that you shell out your hard-earned money to see this movie, regardless of the beauty of Mr. Kutcher. Instead of rushing out and seeing Just Married (which is just awful), I recommend that you wait until the film is available on DVD, so that you can watch it with the sound off. In the meantime, you can make do with a copy of last month’s Teen People Magazine, which featured a large pull-out poster of Ashton Kutcher in a damp tank top.Contact Dan Savage at firstname.lastname@example.org