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Lesbian Sex in the Cinema

Lesbian Sex in the Cinema

Okay, ladies. Be honest. You go to see an independent lesbian film because the only thing that matters is the story. Right? Okay, I’ll confess story actually does matter. But, what do we talk about? The Sex Scenes. Was it hot or not? The question should be focused on whether it felt real.

Honestly, just once I would like to see lesbian sex on screen the way it really is. Not choreographed, powdered, angled and fluffed. Just once I’d like to see intimacy on the screen. The kind of intimacy that makes for great sex. Not two people who only care about their own needs, but two people immersed in each other. I once wrote a poem called “There Is No Such Thing as Making Love”. It focused on the connection between two people when that hand suddenly slips under the shirt or the tongue glides on a lover’s neck. It was about what we rarely see in movies- intimacy. People don’t have sex to create love. Somehow the sex came either because of it or in spite of it not existing, but not to “make” it. For whatever reason people come together, we just want a hot real sex scene.

There are films that have gotten as close to real as one can get when make up people are powdering an ass between takes. Recently the one that comes to mind is Elena Undone. Who didn’t shudder a bit with Elena when Peyton slowly ran the back of her hand over Elena’s left breast? See I really paid attention to detail. It was a moment of caring and intimacy that was more enticing than the adolescent gymnastics in Blue. It is an example of sexual foreplay at its best.

I’ve watched High Art many times over the years. I am always moved by the tears pooling in Radha Mitchell’s eyes when she has her first sexual experience with a woman. A woman who frightens her and has mesmerized her. She is awkward. She is shaking and she is a novice. It is that real expression of any lesbian who has that “first time” at any age. “Please don’t come off as an idiot and yes, I do want to touch you there!” Okay?

Lover’s Game a new film by Danielle Earle coming next year once again visits that dynamic of straight woman in bad marriage finding artsy lesbian. Of course, it is much more than that. But it captures the intensity of the passion of a newbie who has learned to have lesbian sex as though she just hopped on the bike again. We believe it.

And now for my all time favorite intimate sex scene moments? Lisa Ray planting those luscious lips on Sheetal Sheth’s beautiful mouth in I Can’t Think Straight. Susan Sarandon closing her eyes in ecstasy in The Hunger. Jennifer Tilly sliding Gina Gershon’s hand between her legs in Bound. Jessica Clark putting her delicate fingers on Barbara Niven’s right breast in A Perfect Ending. Again, I paid close attention.

So, please, film makers, when you stage that powerful sex scene, remember the intimacy and reality of a simple touch, an awkward glance, a loss of breath, and a full body in receipt of every glorious ripple of surrender. And if two women are in “the throws of unbridled passion”, tell them to open their mouths when they kiss. Real people do that. A couple important things to remember when you call in the actresses for that pivotal sex scene. No lipstick or eyeliner needed. If you are doing it right it eventually makes you look like a raccoon who smeared red jam on your face. Not real. Trust me.

Next time I’ll share my observations of the all time worst examples of lesbian sex scenes in movies and cable television— Jan

Jan Miller Corran, Ph.D., is CEO/President of More Than Friends Productions (MTF). Dr. Corran is a film producer with numerous films to her credit as Executive Producer, Associate Producer or consultant. For a list of her books and films, visit

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  • Jan says:

    The feedback I’ve received through my facebook messages has been incredible. The writer and director of the upcoming “Camp Belevedere” acknowledged the difficulty in finding actresses who will play lesbian much less do sex scenes. Often in casting an actress will say “yes” but come off awkward once the camera begins

    Universal comment, but not a surprise, was “Women writers and directors do a much better job of getting intimacy and reality into lesbian film”.

  • Nancy says:

    I just saw the new movie “Blue is the warmest color” and it was raw lesbian sex, I was shocked at how real it was! A little embarrassed watching it in a theater. I was there with a married straight couple, felt like we were watching porn, it was so in our face. Well done but too much sex, at least to watch in public 🙂

  • Thank you for a great article and some excellent tips of movies to be seen and seen again! I so agree with you that the love scenes we are all waiting for (have been waiting for centuries!) are most likely not going to come from hetero directors and actresses. For me, movies being movies, I don’t mind if lesbians look gorgeous, made up like stars. The spiffy hairdo, makeup and outfits of Shane in the L-Word were fine with me. The question is more: is it erotic or embarrassing? Is it a turn-on or gives me the willies? I was glad you reminded me of my own short list of erotic highs: “The Hunger” with Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon–a couple to die for! “Bound”: I just checked it out again and wow, pretty convincingly scrumptious indeed. “High Art”: intelligent and hot.
    There’s the rub: in order to show sex “the way it really is” and how fabulous sex can feel, ART has to show up in the presentation — and probably even play a leading role. That’s a tough call. (Hetero movie sex hasn’t been any more successful, or has it?)
    Can’t wait to read your worst sex follow-up…

  • Where on Facebook are the interesting comments? Don’t see them on jan miller corran Timeline…

  • epochalipsnow says:

    Probably in her private messages… When will we see something new from you Renate!?

  • Liz says:

    Jan, you captured the essence of what speaks to our hearts and yes, our eyes too!

  • Lana Spencer says:

    Read this one after the article in December. Jan, you are one awesome writer who knows what it takes to make a love scene real and sensuous. A friend said you write erotic literature. Are you going to share any on Epochalips?