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Safe sex on set: the rise of intimacy coaches
In the wake of #MeToo, scenes are being choreographed like fights or dances to set boundaries for actors
How do you stop people being groped in the workplace when consensual groping is part of the job? It’s a question that the film and TV industries have been increasingly agonising over in the last few years, and which has now led to the rise of a new job on set: that of the intimacy coordinator.
“I didn’t think there was even a role in the profession when I first started developing this work several years ago,” says Ita O’Brien, a former actor turned movement director who specialises as an intimacy coordinator. “Now I can name at least 20 to 30 intimacy coordinators working around the world – and we’re training up dozens more to meet the demand.”
O’Brien’s job is to make sure that actors are comfortable, that boundaries are discussed, and every step of a scene is mutually agreed and choreographed in the same way as a fight, a dance or an action sequence.
It was HBO’s The Deuce – an explicit TV drama about the 1970s porn industry – that helped set a new industry standard in the wake of #MeToo and the Time’s Up campaign. The show, created by David Simon and George Pelecanos, the team behind The Wire, was among the first to hire an intimacy coordinator.
Emily Meade, who plays an aspiring porn star in The Deuce opposite James Franco – who has been dogged with allegations of sexual misconduct off set – made the request for a professional to be available when the second series began shooting last year.
HBO hired Alicia Rodis, a founding member of Intimacy Directors International (IDI), who learned her craft under Tonia Sina, the first intimacy director to write a thesis on the subject. Rodis’s impact was so huge that Simon pledged to never work without an intimacy coordinator again. HBO followed suit and adopted a policy whereby all shows with intimate scenes are staffed with an intimacy coordinator.
Netflix and Amazon Prime have been quick to respond and are now hiring coordinators to oversee sex scenes across their sets, but terrestrial broadcasters and major theatres still seem to be dragging their feet on the issue.
“I want to have conversations with the National Theatre, with the RSC, with the Globe,” says O’Brien, who has worked with the BBC for Sally Wainwright’s Gentleman Jack, but says “there is still such a way to go, [particularly] with older directors where there is resistance.”
Elizabeth Talbot, who runs IDI in the UK, has been run off her feet in the last year. “The last six months has seen a huge uptick,” she says. “It’s no secret that our industry was very unsafe for actors. A lot of it wasn’t malicious, but it was uninformed. If you don’t have intentions to keep actors and actresses safe when they’re simulating sex, or info on how to do that, then everyone is sort of winging it. My goal is that you don’t have to feel someone else’s genitals at work if you don’t want to; we make sure we advocate for actors and actresses when they feel too vulnerable or unsure to do it themselves.”
Despite the advantages, not everyone is keen. When Equity adopted safe-sex scene guidelines, the actor Andy Serkis accused the union of “creative censorship” and suggested that actors and directors should arrive at an agreement together. But it’s because those conversations haven’t happened that makes her work so crucial, says O’Brien. “I’ve worked with quite a few young actresses and they’re so appreciative that there is someone on set advocating for them and establishing boundaries.”
Both O’Brien and Talbot think their jobs will become standardised across the acting profession within the next five years. “It was incredibly difficult for people to take us seriously when we were trying to get this off the ground,” says Talbot. “There was a natural assumption that everyone has sex and actors can coordinate it themselves. The easiest way to equate what we do is to think of a fight on set, where a fight coordinator is hired to make sure everyone is safe while making the most authentic-looking scene possible. Intimacy is in a similar vein
Society for Family Health (SFH) is one of the leading public health non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Nigeria, implementing programmes in Reproductive Health/Family Planning; HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment; malaria prevention and treatment; primary health care system strengthening and maternal, newborn and child health care. SFH works in partnership with the Federal and State Governments of Nigeria, the Global Fund, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Department for International Development (DFID), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Merck for Mothers, Children Investment Fund Foundation among other international donors. We offer professional opportunities for career advancement, a good working environment and competitive remuneration. We require competent candidates to fill the following positions below:
Public Alert No. 0011/2019 – Recall of Eva Premium Table Water 75cl Due to Change in Colour and Presence of Particles.
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has directed Nigerian Bottling Company Limited to recall Eva Premium Table Water 75cl as a precautionary step pending investigation by the Agency. The company voluntarily reported to NAFDAC on June 20, 2019, a change in colour of the product from colourless to light green and presence of particles in two lots.
The affected Eva Premium Table Water 75cl was produced between 22nd and 23rdMay, 2019 at Nigerian Bottling Company Limited, Asejire, Ibadan, Oyo State.
The details of the affected Eva Premium Table Water 75cl are:
Name of Product. Production Date. Best Before Date
Eva Premium Table Water 75cl. 22/05/19.14.27 AC4220520
Eva Premium Table Water 75cl. 23/05/19.15.15 AC4230520
Eva Premium Table Water 75cl produced by Nigerian Bottling Company is registered by NAFDAC. The NAFDAC Registration Nu…
THE General Superintendent of Deeper Life Bible Church, Pastor William Kumuyi, Saturday, maintained that the church will not be handed over to ‘rascals’ who are not portraying the image of Christ in their character.
Kumuyi made the declaration via a satellite broadcast from headquarters of the church in Lagos, while teaching on the topic, ‘Fear Not: The Promise Is Still Good’ during the Faith Clinic session at the ongoing Deeper Life National December Retreat, holding at the Deeper Life Conference Centre (DLCC), which started on Friday, December 21 and ends December 25.
He said the church will not condone any form of rascality and rebellion because the word of God never encourages that and is a strange behaviour capable of taking one to hell fire.
He said: “We are not going to hand the church over to rascals, over to rebellious people that want to scatter everything that is good that the Lord is doing. If you …