In the not too distant past, actresses on television or film sets were asked to appear nude or to be in graphic sex scenes that made them feel uncomfortable, and they could either agree, or get fired. Women weren’t the only performers who were coerced, just a horrifically vast majority. As Kristen Lopez writes for RogerEbert.com in a 2018 piece called A Matter of Legitimacy: Female Nudity On-Screen:
“…Hollywood marketing and audience interest still encourages the consumption of female bodies, in spite of increased awareness of the male gaze and the continued statistics charting the lack of male nudity on-screen. Actresses today feel the need to “explain” their reasons behind deciding to be nude or not, damned if they do or if they don’t, all in an aid to justify the audiences’ comfort lusting after female flesh and perpetuating the continued double standards regarding male and female nudity in film.”
For many marginalized performers, the systemic power imbalance made it impossible for them to advocate for themselves if they wanted to keep working. But now, in the wake of #MeToo and high-profile takedowns of Hollywood power brokers who’ve enjoyed years of predatory behavior that was hushed up by colleagues, there’s a new era.
The era of The Intimacy Coordinator.
On this episode, I interview Jean Franzblau, a professional, highly trained Intimacy Coordinator, and a member of the Intimacy Professionals Association, who is working on sets to make sure that performers are not coerced into doing sex scenes, and that all graphic depictions on camera are choreographed and negotiated in advance. If a performer has an issue, the Intimacy Coordinator presents it to the director and producers and advocates on the behalf of talent.
Not everyone is working with Intimacy Coordinators, and it’s not as if studios and networks that are employing them, have had a sudden awakening. People have turned a blind eye to predatory behavior for as long as there’s been a Hollywood. It's just that now corporations realize that, just like COVID safety protocols, making sure a set is safe for its performers is a legitimate OSHA concern, not to mention that unchecked egregious behavior will expose them to potential litigation and public relations nightmares. No one wants or can afford that today.
As a safety measure for all parties involved, many studios and networks now employ Intimacy Coordinators. We’re going to find out exactly what an Intimacy Coordinator does, how they advocate for talent, and assist writers and directors in the technicalities of certain sexual situations.
We’ll also find out why they can write off yoga mats.
It’s all in this interview.
Also!!!! Huge News!!!
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