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The Sex Scene!

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Dani Lennon 1Ah, the Love Scene…a sometimes nerve wracking and ungraceful experience…at least in my case. Most actors and actresses will inevitably be faced with the requirement of a love scene or several over the course of their careers. It is to be expected in our line of work where the themes of love, romance and sexuality flow endlessly like wine or champagne at a Holiday party. There is a misconceived notion due to several documented on set affairs between co-stars, that the general public is lead to believe that most love scenes captured on the screen are sexually fulfilling and perhaps fun to shoot. HA!! Don’t get me wrong, I am all for being in the moment and creating a believable connection. I have had wonderful chemistry with my past romantic leads but from my experience most of my sex scenes were absolutely AWKWARD. I am not speaking on behalf of all actors and actresses out there, I can only speak for myself and what I have endured. I have had several love scenes in my budding career but three stick out the most for three different reasons. Join me as I navigate through three very uncomfortable sexual moments on screen. Getting through them, generating a good performance and coming out on top (pun intended thank you very much) much wiser with a stronger handle on professionalism.

The Love Scene Virgin: Awkward love scene number one! I remember my first love scene. I was very nervous as one can imagine. My love interest was not an amateur to love scenes and he was able to calm me down. To my surprise it wasn’t as grievous as I had expected because my fellow Co-star and I had an honest physical and emotional connection that worked perfectly on screen. Once filming was done we left all of that at the door and continued on with our lives as professionals do. A few years later it was my turn to pay it forward and help out a Love Scene Virgin. On the set of a hysterical and witty sex comedy. My fellow actor and I were to capture a drunken and clumsy one night stand. The poor guy was so damn nervous that I could hear his heart beating across the other side of the room seconds before we were about to shoot. I asked the director to give me a few moments to talk with him and to ease his worries. I approached the subject telling my leading guy ‘I know that this is your first love scene and I understand that you are afraid of getting an erection or this turning into something that it is not. I know there a quite a few people watching but I promise you as I have been through a few love scenes before that this will be so robotic and you will be so focused on your performance that there will be no tension and you won’t feel a thing’. The scene went great. It was high energy and absolutely hilarious. My Love Scene Virgin turned out quite the performance. Afterwards he thanked me for my words of wisdom and reassured me that I was correct in my analysis. In fact, he didn’t feel a thing! Hmmmm…didn’t know quite how to take that but a good deed done that deserved a pat on the back!

The Drunken Dad: Awkward love scene number two! Again I found myself on the set of another comedy where I was to film a raunchy sex romp on a copy machine in an office! Mind you it was done in good taste (If you can believe that) with no nudity involved. That silly moment worked for the context of that scene. Of course my leading man and I were tense about the upcoming rollick on the copier. He was married with two children and this was his first ridiculous, absurd but still very funny sex scene. I can understand that. I’m not sure how I would’ve felt had I been in his position but needless to say he avoided me like the plague the entire day before we got to our scene. Out of respect I made sure to give him his space until we needed to shoot. As the end of the day closed and our scene drew near I found my co-star pounding a couple beers in the break room. To which I light heartedly quipped ‘Hey! Where the hell is mine?! If you get to get buzzed so do I’!  Well I’m allergic to beer but not wine! The Producers gave me two glasses and we were ready to roll. The scene was full of stomach grabbing and knee slapping humor. Although a bit embarrassing and ludicrous it was the alcohol and good communication that loosened us up and saved the day.

The Adonis: Awkward Love Scene Number Three! In my opinion I saved the best for last. I was involved with this gut wrenching beautifully shot drama and my love interest literally resembled a god. How could people actually look like that? Not only was he stunning but he was an incredible actor and our scenes were electric. I was thrilled with the work we contributed and could not wait to see the final product. As we were going into our love scene I approached it as professionally as I had before. Although he was attractive and we were portraying these characters, our work was to be finished at the end of the day and left on set. We were both on the same page and all was going well until he chimed in moments before our first take ‘No offense but you’re a little too skinny for my taste…you’re not my type’. Then the Director called ‘Action’!. Well that was a first! I was offended but I made sure to keep my head in the game and do my job. Our love scene was beautiful so even if he found me repulsive he sure didn’t act like it. I couldn’t possibly know what was going through his mind at the time to feel the need to share with me his distaste. Perhaps he was nervous? Perhaps he was talking himself out of being attracted to me so he wouldn’t get visibly excited? Or he really felt that way towards me and had a lack of etiquette. Even so, I didn’t let that remark get in the way of my performance or his for that matter.

These three stand-out love scenes taught me so much about civility, courtesy and respect for the project, myself as well as my fellow actors. We must always be mindful of our Co-Star’s acting space and comfort. No love scene is ever alike and we have to be considerate and candid about our concerns and our chemistry…or lack thereof with our love interests. If you put that all into perspective and coin it into simple terms it means this: When approaching and performing a love scene ALWAYS BE A PROFESSIONAL no matter how uncomfortable, dreadful, exciting or awkward it may be.

Dani Lennon

About Dani Lennon

A Chicago Native and a classically trained singer, Dani has performed all over the world and the country in exciting places like Carnegie Hall. Singing transitioned to acting as she took part in stage productions all over Chicago where she worked with many talented actors and Steppenwolf directors. After moving to Los Angeles she has been working consistently in television, soaps, film and new media. One of her most notable projects to date is Lionsgate/Machinima’s successful Series ‘Bite Me’. In addition to acting and singing, Dani’s interests and talents are extended behind the camera as a Screenwriter and a Creative Producer. Having been an athlete most of her life, she enjoys performing her own stunts, firearms, boxing and riding horses. As a self proclaimed adventure junkie, Dani loves the outdoors. Hiker, camper, fisherman and equestrian are the few roles she plays in her everyday life.