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Intimacy Coordinator Reveals Protocol for Actors Becoming Too ‘Aroused’ on Set

The best actors fully immerse themselves in their characters, “becoming” them in body and mind.

But, naturally, this can lead to some complications, especially when filming romantic scenes.

As viewers, we want the action to be credible, but for actors, the line between realistic and real life can be a hard one to tread.

Indeed, when filming a sex scene, no man wants to find himself physically aroused (to put it politely). But, fortunately, experts are on hand to help deal with such situations.

In other, blunter words, studios now hire trained professionals who help actors if they get an erection during filming.

Intimacy coordinators are now a crucial part of the movie-making machine, ensuring actors feel comfortable and confident while performing.

They increasingly shape the way sex scenes are carried out, both physically and emotionally, ensuring every intimate action shared between onscreen partners – from kissing to simulated sex – is discussed between the actors and director.

Another crucial part of the process is the donning of so-called “modesty” garments by performers, which prevents genital-on-genital contact.

An example of these are shibues and hibues – essentially strapless thongs which give the impression of nudity without revealing the actor’s private parts.

Alicia Rodis, who serves as the intimacy coordinator for HBO studios, explained to Backstage that she keeps a number of these flesh-colored items, in a variety of hues, in her set kit.

“We take a shibue, open it up, and put a silicone guard underneath so everyone becomes like a Barbie doll,” she told the specialist magazine.

However, men can also opt to wear a “sock” instead – a drawstring skin-colored pouch that holds the penis and testicles.

The issue here is that fabric can’t do much to conceal things when a man gets a little too turned on. Ultimately, basic biology means that sometimes male actors are powerless to conceal their bodily responses to erotically charged moments.

David Thackeray, one of the UK’s first intimacy coordinators, stressed that it’s perfectly normal for this to happen when performers are simulating sex. And rather than make a big deal out of it, the team simply stops shooting and waits for the excitement to subside.

“The worst thing you can do is carry on,” he also told Backstage. “We call that a ‘timeout.’ Give them five minutes. Then I come in and check-in. Then we come back into it when they’re ready.”

He also emphasized: “The worst thing we can do is gawk or make it a massive deal. I will say for the crew as well, making sure they’re aware of what scene is being shot, what nudity is going to be seen. You don’t want them to be surprised.”

So next time you watch a steamy love scene, just think about all the work that’s gone into making it as seamless, and safe, as possible.

Source: indy100, Backstage