Actor X: Sex on set

Actor X: Sex on set

By Actor X 27/10/11

This week our anonymous actor columnist tackles that gossip magazine mainstay – the sex lives of actors: from his own unrequited crushes to others' scatological obsessions, and the sado-masochistic nature of the director/actor affair...

Do actors have more sex than milkmen? Milkmen proverbially have a lot of sex, and I always remember that little bit of Pinter dialogue from The Lover, where he toyed with this: 

JOHN: Cream? 

SARAH: You’re very late.

JOHN: Cream? 

SARAH: No, thank you.

JOHN: Why not?

SARAH: I have some. Do I owe you anything? 

JOHN: Mrs Owen just had three jars. Clotted. 

I’ve had a week out of a Pinter/Losey film, finding myself in an unexpected and inappropriate situation with my landlady’s other lodger – quite literally an upstairs, downstairs situation, so I’m ruminating on these things. It reminds me of the initials, “LDO”, that until the ’60s used to be written next to some entries in the actors’ digs lists – the lists of bedsits and B&Bs in each city that are handed out by the stage manager to touring actors and are compiled with the accumulated wisdom of the many actors and crew before them. LDO means “landlord’s daughter obliges”.

My friend the Dog Walker, a lady of experience and daring who is filming a long job abroad, has been anxiously asking me if she would be unwise to indulge three young eager colleagues of hers given that she may be on the job for the next six years and could therefore become hostage to early indiscretions.

But my advice, perhaps not the most prudent, was that since everyone will be gossiping anyway as though she is already holding three-way drug-fuelled bondage workshops in the cast hotel, she might as well meet rumour with action. 

It occurs to me that I have never done a job when someone hasn’t eventually brought up the coprophiliac proclivity of two particular and notorious British actors. They have passed into modern lore for their penchant for shit and it says something about the persistence of the bawdy in the profession that despite all the puritan scouring and general prudery we all still have a laugh at their expense.

Rumour is pervasive among us and it adds to the sense of possible mischief, but I have been an unhappy victim lately when not a year after my dismal experience on the road with an actress that I barely spoke to, I was reported by a newspaper to be carrying on an affair with said actress. The hacks always seem to snuffle out the most galling versions of a lie.

Mostly I just get hopeless unrequited crushes that I can’t explain to myself once the run is over and the world we created has gone. It is always remarkable how the imaginative act of being in a play can send out shoots through the cracks in the make-believe world that end up blossoming – exploding! – into the real world. Especially if you are in a Tennessee Williams play.

I once had a hothouse crush on an older female director and the role I was playing had a fair amount of mother love involved in it but when the director did actually proposition me at Waterloo station one night I found myself demurring. Outside of the rehearsal room the spell was broken. 

I would say that most actors crave manipulation – by the director, by the text, by the actors opposite us. We are creatures that want to be bound and gagged and forced into contortions we didn’t know we were capable of – sado-masochists, in other words.

And it’s not unrelated that most actresses go for directors rather than actors – theirs is a wilful self-subjugation with the erotic potential for role reversal. And of course so many male directors aren’t what they seem at work – they are actually craven and terrified when it comes to their leading ladies or their leading men. The structures and rituals of the rehearsal room and the film set allow them communication and authority they are incapable of in real life. Just like any bondage club.


More Actor X:

Foreign contractors

Cipher – on being cut out of a film

Read all of Actor X’s columns.


Image: Adam Kesher by djenvert, available under a CC BY-NC-ND license.

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