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The Oscars are being urged to introduce a Best Intimacy Coach category

The Oscars are being urged to introduce a Best Intimacy Coach category

A porn director is calling out the Oscars for not having a category for intimacy coordinators.

A porn director is calling out the Oscars for not having a category for intimacy coordinators.

House of the Dragon, Sex Education, Bridgerton, I May Destroy You and Normal People are all productions that received widespread praise and recognition for employing intimacy coordinators to make sure actors felt comfortable, prepared and not pressured during intimate scenes.

Last year, Stranger Things' star Millie Bobby Brown was called out by an intimacy coordinator when she boasted about springing a surprise kiss and forcefully hitting her scene partner.

Given the importance of an intimacy coordinator's role - to enforce a sensitive and safeguarded approach to intimate scenes - why aren't intimacy coordinators required on all mainstream film productions and why isn't the role more widely recognised and celebrated in mainstream film and television?

Porn director and producer Erika Lust has since called out awards ceremonies such as the BAFTAs and Oscars for not featuring an 'Oscar for Best Intimacy Coach' award, telling UNILAD why it's even more important now that intimacy coaches are made key parts of the production team and recognised for their work.

But what exactly is an intimacy coordinator and what do they do?

Lust - who has directed and produced over 300 adult films since 2004 - tells UNILAD of the role of an intimacy coordinator on an adult film set: "Intimacy coordinators take care of performers’ mental, emotional, and physical health and safety throughout the filming.

"They ensure that performers feel safe to explore their sexuality alone or with one another and give them mental & sexual health support if needed.

"On our sets, the Intimacy Coordinator works alongside the director managing the sex scenes and conversations around sexual intimacy, boundaries, sexual health, protections, and so on."

Lust explains an intimacy coordinator's job is to make sure performers' and actors' boundaries are 'honoured and respected at all times'.

During her BAFTA acceptance speech in 2021, Michaela Coel from 'I May Destroy You' dedicated her award to the series' intimacy coordinator.

Lust reflects how adult film as a genre is often looked down upon for its portrayal of sex and treatment of women, however, she believes the adult film industry could teach the mainstream film and TV industry a lot.

In UNILAD's 'Stripped Back' series, adult film star Alexis Fawx noted she believes the adult film industry is the 'only' one to empower women as a result of her feeling safe-guarded and respected.

Fellow adult film performer Sinn Sage also told UNILAD the #MeToo movement happened long before within the adult film industry compared to mainstream TV and film.

Lust adds: "The MeToo movement [in mainstream film and TV] has seen women strike back and intimacy coaches are a key step in ensuring directors and actors convey sex, sexual pleasure and nudity with consent, care and free of exploitation."

Sex Education was praised for using intimacy coordinators during its filming.

Despite the impact of the Me Too movement - which was re-sparked in 2017 after numerous accusations against film producer Harvey Weinstein surfaced - not all films use an intimacy coordinator.

Lust explains: "There are many debates about how coordinating intimacy may 'kill the vibe' of a scene, and that says a lot about the ignorance we still carry when it comes to sex.

"Saying that choreographing an intimate scene kills the vibe is the same as saying that communicating, practicing consent, or taking a short break to wear a condom during sex 'kills the vibe'."

'Normal People' was praised its sensitive handling of intimate scenes.

Lust notes how the mainstream film industry has been 'tainted and shaped by male-dominated exploitation' from 'its earliest days'.

"That includes everything from the notorious casting couch to improper conduct by actors and directors towards cast members, forcing them to perform scenes they had not consented to," she reflects.

With the teen stars of Romeo and Juliet deciding to sue Paramount in 2023, citing sexual exploitation over a nude scene in the 1968 film, it's clear there's still a problem.

Lust states: "Porn is a dirty word for many, but as a female director in a still predominantly male-dominated porn industry, just like Hollywood.

"I bet Hollywood could learn from the ethical standards and expectations we place on set to protect cast members from exploitation, misogyny, and degrading behaviour."

House of the Dragon was also applauded for its use of intimacy coordinators.

With awards at the BAFTAs and Oscars for costume design, interior decoration and hair and make-up, Lust questions why intimacy coordinators aren't commended too - particularly given the importance of the safeguarding nature of their role.

The director and producer argues: "In an industry where sex sells, recognising the critical role of Intimacy Coaches with an award category would be a powerful and timely statement by the respective Academies."

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact the Rape Crisis England and Wales helpline on 0808 500 2222 available 24/7 every day. Alternatively, you can contact Victim Support free on 08 08 16 89 111 available 24/7, every day of the year, including Christmas

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock/HBO

Topics: Oscars, Film and TV, Celebrity, Sex and Relationships