This article is part of the 2009 Seven Days Sex Survey. Click here to read more.
If this question proves anything, it’s that arousal is a great memory aid. True, a contingent of you declined to recall a specific sizzling movie scene, preferring generic descriptions such as “when female starts disrobing”; “I have no idea, I’m happy as long as there is nudity”; and the ever-popular “I like porn.” (Some, mainly males, got graphic about which porn: “right when the dick enters any hole,” opined a straight man in his thirties, while a gay man opted for “swallowing or a facial.”)
But those of you who named a particular sexy movie moment — by far the majority — often described it in detail worthy of a torrid novel. Take one twentysomething hetero female’s account of a scene in the Pitt-Jolie action pair-up Mr. and Mrs. Smith (a popular answer, by the way): “Having just attempted to savage each other, Angelina and Brad are standing amongst the torn-up remains of their apartment, breathless, sweaty, staring at each other, and the chemistry just explodes.” Rowr!
A straight woman in her thirties isn’t soon going to forget “the shower scene in Casino Royale where Daniel Craig’s Bond warms Vesper Lynd’s fingers by sucking on them.” While female respondents were more likely than males to recount the details, one het guy in his thirties offered a vivid description of the scene in the Mexican coming-of-age tale Y Tu Mamá También where “Tenoch goes to Ana’s motel room to borrow some soap. Wearing nothing but a towel, she instructs him to remove it and touch himself . . . The sex that ensues is rough and comical, as it’s fraught with inexperience, but it’s the scene’s exposition that gets me hot and bothered.”
Y Tu Mamá was cited by a hefty contingent of (mostly) straight males, suggesting that subtitles don’t stop Seven Days readers from getting off. The hot and heavy scenes in Monster’s Ball were also popular with hetero men, while several gay men mentioned the “tent scene” in Brokeback Mountain.
Women of all orientations decreed any number of movies sexy, from Shortbus to Tipping the Velvet to Atonement (“Against the bookcase!”). But there was one clear winner here: Unfaithful, a drama in which Diane Lane steps out on husband Richard Gere. “I want to say Ghost because I think that’s what you’re supposed to say for this question, but I’m going to have to go with Diane Lane and Olivier Martinez in Unfaithful,” a twentysomething reported. “Cheating gets me wet.” (Amusingly, another female respondent specified only “. . . not the clay scene in Ghost.”) One woman encapsulated the appeal of Lane’s walk on the wild side: “To me it’s wrong that she cheated on her husband, but the hot and steamy, passionate sex she and her lover [had] always reminds me of the first time I had sex with any of my partners.”
A few respondents identified “infidelity/forbidden love” or “inappropriate sex” as general turn-ons — and indeed, for each person who savored the tender lovemaking in Ghost, there were two or three who got off on the spanking scenes in Secretary. The oddball indie film about a depressed office worker who gets, er, very thoroughly trained by her boss was a hit with respondents across the gender gap. A straight male in his forties liked “Maggie Gyllenhaal doing office work on all fours,” while a bi woman in her thirties preferred the moment “when [James] Spader carries Gyllenhaal away and takes care of her.”
A few readers acknowledged that some pretty dang disturbing images rub them the right way: A woman torturing another woman in Hostel: Part II is “SO wrong but totally hot,” wrote one female respondent, while a few others specified rape or play-rape scenes such as the one in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
More numerous, however, were those who claimed to be more tickled by cinematic sexual tension or romance than by characters’ sealing the deal. A bi twentysomething female goes for “Anything with a lot of buildup — ‘Are they really going to do it? Maybe — no, maybe not — oh, yeah!’” A het guy in his sixties enthuses, “I love foreplay!” And a straight woman in her thirties writes: “I really love seeing men overwhelmed by emotional and sexual passion. Oftentimes, it’s women that feel more on screen. So when I see a man so in love with a woman that he is slightly forceful, it’s a real turn-on.”
In keeping with the sex-as-mnemonic theme, many older respondents cited scenes from films released decades ago, such as The Big Easy, 9 1/2 Weeks, Body Heat and even Harold and Maude. Susan Sarandon’s Oscar-nominated turn in Atlantic City (1981) may be the stuff of trivia quizzes, but the scene where she “put[s] lemon juice on her breasts” clearly made a lasting impression. Two cinephiles — one on the young side — mentioned Donald Sutherland’s lengthy coupling with Julie Christie in Don’t Look Now (1973). And, just to show that the allure of some images never dies, a twentysomething bi man answered, “Princess Leia gold bikini.”
Some answers may have been a bit on the waggish side. Two of you claimed to get off to Team America, which features graphic sex . . . between two marionettes. One specified the scene in a John Waters opus where Divine gets violated by a giant lobster. One respondent scoffed, “meh movies, who cares,” while another preferred “when my girlfriend gave me head while at the theater” to anything that could happen on-screen. A couple of readers objected that the question was phrased confusingly: Were they supposed to ID the sexiest scene in any film, or in a particular one?
And, yes, two of you went for the inevitable ba-da-bing. Sexiest scene in a movie? “The climax!”