In 1933, the Austrian star Hedy Lamarr (who also had a remarkable parallel career as an inventor) appeared in the Czech erotic drama Ecstasy playing Eva, who gave us the first female orgasm in movie history. This is simply an extended closeup on her face, after her lover’s head has disappeared from the bottom of the frame, as she abandons herself to pleasure and rapture. There were some telling cutaways – to her hand, fondling some material, and also one of her pearl necklace dropping to the floor. Afterwards, Eva languorously smokes a cigarette, doing her bit to establish one of cinema’s great post-coital tropes.
John Cameron Mitchell’s sexually diverse hardcore comedy of kink is inspired by the adventurous soirées that the director experienced in New York in the early part of the century – and it revolves around “Shortbus”, a club which its host describes as “a salon for the gifted and challenged”. The opening scene of this film is one of the great moments of auto-eroticism: a gymnastically achieved self-blowjob, complete with happy finish which as well as everything else renders obsolete the joke about why dogs lick their balls.
Perhaps dogging has been underrepresented in erotic cinema, but Albert Serra’s award-winning historical fantasy gave the whole subject a touch of class. In the years before the French Revolution, a group of bewigged libertines – aristocrats expelled from Louis XVI’s court – gather in their carriages in a forest to watch other aristocrats doing pervy things in a moonlit clearing, and occasionally participate themselves. Like vampires, they murmur Sadeian thoughts to each other while one of their number eagerly submits to being horribly thrashed.
Disney isn’t well known for eroticism, but one moment from this classic frankly alluded to the sex life of its hero, Simba. After being tricked and made an orphan by the wicked wiles of his evil uncle Scar, Simba escapes into exile where he grows into lionhood and is reunited with his childhood pal Nala, who is now a comely lioness. They fall in love and romp to the song Can You Feel the Love Tonight. That’s a resounding yes. At one point, Nala reclines in an obviously sexual come-hither pose.
The tricky subject of human-animal relations has been dramatised in various movies, including in Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) (sheep), Nagisma Oshima’s Max Mon Amour (chimp) and Robinson Devor’s Zoo (horse). But the most purely outrageous depiction had to be in The Beast by arthouse-erotic master Walerian Borowczyk. A young American woman inherits a fortune on condition that she marries a strange French aristocrat and horse breeder whose forebears had a strange relationship with an enormous priapic beast that lives in the forest. This creature’s sexual needs soon become horribly apparent.
The concept of sex with cars has cinephile connoisseurs nodding thoughtfully over David Cronenberg’s Crash and the Palme d’Or-winning Titane by Julia Ducournau. But Ridley Scott outdid all those Cannes snobs with the gobsmacking scene in his thriller The Counselor. In this, Cameron Diaz has sex with a sports car – a yellow Ferrari California – belonging to Javier Bardem’s character while Javier looks on stunned from the driving seat, as she spreads herself intimately across the windshield without underwear. Bardem later ungallantly describes it as resembling “one of those bottom feeders you see going up the side of the aquarium”. The scene was shot at Stoke Park golf course in Buckinghamshire.
As 007, Roger Moore returned to Earth in triumph after saving the planet from the evil intergalactic plans of Hugo Drax, played by Michael Lonsdale, and so the assorted bigwigs of American and British intelligence were patched through to what was going on in his spacecraft via a live video link – to find Bond having celebratory zero-gravity sex with Nasa scientist Dr Holly Goodhead, played by Lois Chiles. “My god, what’s Bond doing?” splutters a top diplomat. “I think he’s attempting re-entry, sir” says Q – one of the most cringe-making final gags in Bond history.
This film was always far more bizarre and satirical than sexy (although it is said to have popularised the risky practice of autoerotic asphyxiation in the US). Food sex plays a big part. Innkeeper Kichi (Tatsuya Fuji) begins an obsessive affair with servant girl Sada (Eiko Matsuda), raises the subject of food being moistened with each other’s bodies and then prevails upon her to insert an egg intimately and then “lay” it again like a hen. This is part of the surreal and strange theatre of sexuality that is enacted by the two of them.
Here it is: what many believe to the finest puppet sex scene in history, or simply the finest sex scene in history, and easily one of the most explicit. In this puppet drama, Gary (voiced by Trey Parker) is a sensitive Broadway actor recruited to the elite special forces group, Team America, so that he can infiltrate an international criminal cell using his powers of thespian empathy. Lisa (voiced by Kristen Miller) is the beautiful psychologist who masterminds Team America’s sophisticated counter-terrorist strategies. The two have wild sex, in a scene which brutally exposes how coyly and evasively Hollywood shoots non-puppet human sex scenes. Lisa’s resemblance to Thunderbirds’ Lady Penelope has made it even more popular in the UK.
A genuinely chaotic, romantic, comic and affectionate sex scene. Two young guys Tenoch and Julio, played by Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal, head off on a crazy road trip in the company of a glamorous, free-spirited older woman, Luisa, played by Maribel Verdú, who has secret troubles of her own. They are enamoured of her, and she has sex with them individually in an attempt to relieve the hormonal atmosphere of tension and competition. But she senses that there might be something else going on as well and in the showstopping scene, they gather for a threesome in a motel room during which she ducks out – leaving the two boys passionately kissing and having sex.