With this in mind, we asked Women’s Health readers to nominate their most erotic movie sex scenes. After sorting through more than 2000 votes, scenes from five films dominated the poll, giving a revealing insight into the female mind.
Here, sex coach Jacqueline Hellyer analyses why these five scenes prove such a tantalising turn-on and explains how you can recreate the action in your own X-rated double bill.
So to start your foreplay, just press play.
The sexual tension that’s smouldered through the film finally explodes as Keira Knightley and James McAvoy sneak into the library of the country manor for a knee-trembling quickie.
This is your basic “danger shag” with a swanky twist. The fact that it takes place in the elegant interior of an English stately home as opposed to, say, a dingy car park behind Coles, takes it into fantasy territory by adding a sense of decadent glamour.
“Having sex publicly where no-one knows what you’re doing, or somewhere that you might get caught can add an erotic edge,” says Hellyer. “It’s like that whole teenage thing of doing it without the parents catching you.”
“A quickie is all about the eroticism and intimacy of the moment,” says Hellyer. “The better the atmosphere, the quicker she’ll get into it.” The lead-up to the sex is therefore particularly crucial and you’ll need to work on having a good rapport with your partner so you’re both receptive to sexual opportunities when they crop up.
“Any couple in an ongoing relationship can get a bit complacent, but it’s easy to build in this sort of general frisson,” says Hellyer. “Play footsy under the table over dinner, order her to take off her knickers in the restaurant bathroom, then go at it in the alley as you’re walking back to the car.”
Quickies, by their very nature, are fast and furious, diminishing the sexual returns for your partner. “It’s not likely that she’ll have an orgasm that quickly,” concedes Hellyer. “But it is important that she’s sufficiently lubricated.” Her advice? Use your tongue to get things started then stand up and go for it. “Or if you’re in the bedroom keep a bit of lube handy.”
#4 Sex, Lies and Videotape
James Spader, Hollywood’s go-to guy for complex sexual deviance, claims to be impotent in order to get women to describe their erotic experiences on film. A prim Andie McDowell is initially shocked by his kinky hobby, but eventually succumbs.
This is an unusual sex scene because it doesn’t involve any actual jiggery-pokery. Instead, it’s really about intimacy and forging a true connection with the opposite sex. Spader and McDowell let down their guard to confide raw details about their lives, allowing themselves to become completely vulnerable in the process.
“Sometimes sex is the place where people are the least intimate,” Hellyer says. “People will put on an act and play the porn star or the coy wife or whatever. Instead of truly being themselves and honest about what they want, they’re only doing things they think their partner wants and expects. But it’s much easier to get to the truly erotic once you’ve got intimacy.”
True intimacy will give you the confidence to be open about what floats your boat without fear of being rejected or looking like a colossal pervert. That’s why you’re more likely to have fabulous sex with your soulmate than a one-night hook-up.
Unsurprisingly, the key to building deeper intimacy is good communication. So if you want to be a smash-hit in the sack you need to stop mind-reading and start talking.
#3 Team America
The scene: Two puppets make the author of the Kama Sutra look dismally narrow-minded as they race through a mind-boggling array of positions.
“Straight porn” is Hellyer’s take on this notorious scene. This is the sort of wild monkey sex you’ll only have if you shed all your inhibitions. And, if you’re attempting the upside-down pile-driver, are in possession of a double-jointed penis.
“There’s a lovely sense of abandon,” Hellyer says of the action, “There are clothes and sheets everywhere.” But she also points out that although the bedroom antics become increasingly demented, the build-up to the sex is textbook romance as the couple first lock lips before a spectacular mountain sunset. “It’s a send-up of those clichés,” concedes Hellyer, “But it’s a send-up because these elements actually work.”
Prince memorably boasted about enjoying “23 positions in a one-night stand”. But if you’re not a pint-size pop legend, consider taking things a bit more slowly with a new partner. “When you’re having sex with someone for the first time, a face-to-face position is good for the woman because she can see what you’re doing,” says Hellyer. “Positions when you can’t see the guy’s face can be a little bit unsettling.”
Different positions have subtly different effects for women physically and psychologically. “If you’re flat on your face as a woman, it’s a slightly more submissive role; standing up might feel more adventurous,” says Hellyer. “Doing something just a little different might make you feel wilder or more wanton or more loved. Experiment!”
Leaving aside the pile-driver for now, Hellyer reckons there are only six basic positions - woman on top, man on top, doggy-style, spooning, sitting and standing. “Then it’s all about little variations,” she says. “Rather than saying ‘Okay, let’s try Kama Sutra position No.63’, try to allow the positions to evolve and flow.” Sticking a pillow under your partner’s hip can be an unobtrusive way to mix things up a bit in bed. “Whether she’s on her front or on her back, it lifts up her pelvis to allow the guy to go in at a different angle, which will stimulate different things,” explains Hellyer.
#2 Nine And A Half Weeks
This is the gourmet version of foreplay. A blindfolded Kim Basinger is hand-fed strawberries, champagne, jelly and various other treats by Mickey Rourke, before having honey drizzled over her thighs drizzled.
You don’t need to be Sigmund Freud to appreciate that close-ups of Basinger’s moist lips hungrily devouring ripe fruit are highly suggestive. “The mouth replicates the genital region, so doing stuff around it is really erotic,” says Hellyer.
The fact that Basinger is blindfolded raises the kink factor to turn these kitchen highjinks into a teasing power game. “By closing off certain senses and focusing on others you can have heightened sexual experiences,” says Hellyer.
The 9 1/2 Weeks scene is a classic example of dominant/submissive sexual play. “But what’s so nice about it, and so good for people to take into their own lives, is that it’s not nasty,” explains Hellyer. “He’s created a safe space where she can completely let go and surrender to his power. She has no idea what he’s going to do, but trusts him implicitly.”
To recreate this sensual atmosphere you’ll need to do more than just replacing those mouldy baked beans in your fridge for something a bit more appetising.
“The guy’s obviously put a huge amount of thought into this whole set-up,” says Hellyer. You should start by opting for mood lighting – this will make your partner look and feel more attractive.
The right music can also boost a stuttering seduction bid, although you don’t have to resort to a selection of Barry White hits. Hellyer points out how in this scene, the playful soundtrack brings a cheeky sense of fun. “With sex, people often take things too seriously, and then if something goes wrong they get upset,” she says. “Here there’s a lot of smiles and giggles, so she can really let go.”
But the most valuable lesson to take back to your bedroom is the knicker-loosening effects of slow-burn foreplay. “This scene goes on for so long, and women really like a lot of lead-up before intercourse,” says Hellyer.
#1 Basic Instinct
Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone get jiggy in a king-size bed, with every lick, nibble and thrust reflected in the mirrored ceiling above. After going down on an appreciative Stone, Douglas climbs on top. Finally she takes control, binding his wrists and straddling him to thrash out a shuddering climax.
It’s rare to see a man going down on a woman in a mainstream film. But Hellyer was particularly impressed that Douglas makes occasional eye contact while he’s at work. “People sometimes forget that during oral sex,” says Hellyer. “But it’s nice as the receiver to know that your partner is really getting off on what they’re doing.”
Raunchy optional extras such as wrist restraints and mirrors keep things simmering along nicely. But importantly, says Hellyer, the scene is also infused with intimacy. She stresses that it’s particularly vital to provide loving reassurance when you’re indulging in something a bit risqué like the low-level bondage here.
Hellyer reckons you can learn a lot from the Basic Instinct props department. “If you are planning something a bit different the important message here is preparation.” The sex may feel really spontaneous in this scene, but that’s only because they’ve got everything organised beforehand. “Sharon Stone has got the restraints ready, she doesn’t suddenly go, ‘Oh, I wonder if there’s something I can tie him up with’ and hop off to rummage through her wardrobe. Make sure you have condoms, lube, towels and tissues nearby. And if you have some toys you like then make sure they’re readily accessible.”
Mirrors are an easy way to give your sex life an extra dimension. “Watching yourself in the mirror can be really erotic if the lights are low,” says Hellyer. “It increases the visual stimulus.” By sticking a mirror by the bed or, if your DIY skills are up to it, on the ceiling, you’ve suddenly got access to multiple views.