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The Most Memorable Sex Scenes in Film

The First Sex Scene You Ever Saw

Erica C. Barnett: Top Gun. It's true -- I was a somewhat sheltered child. To this day, all I really remember about this scene was how mortified I was to be watching it with my parents, who used to swear I'd never see an R-rated movie before I turned 17.

Ada Calhoun: Porky's, which my cousin and I somehow managed to see when we were far too young.

Kevin Fullerton: Though I don't remember a specific scene, I suspect that The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas was the first frank presentation of the subject to pass before my eyes. Boy, what a load off that was.

Christopher Gray: Ned Beatty and the hillbillies, Deliverance: "You shore got a purty mouth."


Best Ménage à Trois

Marc Savlov: Neve Campbell, Denise Richards, and Matt Dillon in John McNaughton's paean to all things white trash, Wild Things. Sure, Campbell and Richards couldn't act their way out of a wet paper bag with a chainsaw, but oh, those lips, those eyes, that human humidity.

Kimberley Jones: Francois Truffaut's Jules et Jim. Ménage à trois is French for a reason, you know.

Margaret Moser: Performance. Mick Jagger, Michele Breton, and a luminous Anita Pallenberg roll around in a big ol' bed in this drug-framed gangster black thriller.

David Garza: Let's play a game. Each time you watch The Doom Generation by Gregg Araki, you've got to pretend that you're a different character from his scandalous threesome. Are you Johnathon Schaech, Rose McGowan, or James Duval? If you're Rose, give me a call -- we've got a few things to work out.


The Most Educational Sex Scene

Garza: The erotic scenes in Peter Greenaway's Pillow Book will make you want to lie in bed and write a doctoral dissertation on your own naked body. Watch this movie, and you'll learn everything you ever wanted to know about Japanese calligraphy, ancient literature, and Ewan MacGregor.

Gray: Bill Murray with the spatula in Stripes or Judge Reinhold in the bathroom in Fast Times at Ridgemont High taught me everything I needed to know.

Stephen MacMillan Moser: John Malkovich and Uma Thurman in Dangerous Liaisons. "As with every other science, the first thing you must learn is to call everything by its proper name ... now I think we'll begin with one or two Latin terms."

Sarah Hepola: The World According to Garp. In a pivotal scene of this 1982 John Irving adaptation, one unfortunate chomp turns a blowjob into a tragedy. At seven years old, it all went over my head, but that night, my cousin Becky explained it all -- with diagrams and maps to boot.

Margaret Moser: Scandal. Joanne Whalley-Kilmer and Bridget Fonda dressing to go out. It's not just that they got the look and make-up right, the girls just ooze sex and wicked promises.

Calhoun: Every minute of the cheesy-but-kick-ass period-piece Dangerous Beauty, which is all about a young courtesan honing her skills.

Fullerton: The Fabulous Baker Boys. Before Maxim even existed, Jeff Bridges showed us that a strong pair of hands applied to the lumbar region is hard for even a woman as cool as Michelle Pfeiffer to resist.


Best Song Accompanying a Sex Scene

Marjorie Baumgarten: Ravel's Bolero in 10

Jones: Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes," Say Anything. He gave her his heart; she gave him a pen and a good time in the back seat of his Malibu. Peter Gabriel's song made parking more than just fogging up the windows.

Gray: New Order, "Temptation," Trainspotting. This early Eighties synth classic was the perfect background for Ewan MacGregor's romp with an underage scottish lass.


The Sex Scene You Never Should Have Watched With Your Parents

Savlov: My pop took me to Kubrick's The Shining in 1980, and when that naked, bloated, terrifically dead woman squooshed her way out of the tub to plod after Jack Nicholson, I just about lost my cookies right then and there. Not the kind of bonding I had been hoping for. And by the way, that ambulatory corpse? That was Mel Gibson's mother Billie. Seriously.

Baumgarten: Bertolucci's Luna, in which a loving mother soothes her junkie son in withdrawal by sleeping with him.

Calhoun: The Bull Durham sex montage between Susan Sarandon and Kevin Costner with the tub and all those candles.

Stephen Moser: Watching Boogie Nights in its entirety with my mom was a new dimension in discomfort.

Fullerton: We should never have gone to that drive-in to see The Empire Strikes Back with Stripes playing on the screen behind us. My dad and I caught each other stealing glances over our shoulders several times.

Hepola: Angel Heart. God forgive me, I rented Angel Heart.


Wild Card Sex Categories

Barnett: Best Cartoon Sex -- South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut. Satan meets his match in Saddam Hussein, who teaches him who's really the Dark Lord. Who'd have thought that Satan was a bottom?

Baumgarten: Strangest Ménage à Trois -- Twin Falls, Idaho, in which one attached Siamese twin has an affair while the other attached twin is dying of a terminal illness.

Garza: Most Horrifying Sex Scene -- Total Eclipse. The poets Arthur Rimbaud (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Paul Verlaine (David Thewlis) have some hard and wretched sex on an ugly bed in a dreary flick. A season in hell, indeed, monsieur.

Hepola: Best Sex Without Nudity -- The Player. Robert Altman zooms in on the sweat-soaked faces of Tim Robbins and Greta Scacchi and stays stationary as they thrust back and forth into the frame. Coming as it does at a pivotal moment for Robbins' character, the scene makes for a tense and steamy -- oh hell, I'll say it -- climax.

Jones: Best Sex Between a Man and a Machine -- Woody Allen and the Orgasmatron in Sleeper. Look ma, no hands -- or exchange of bodily fluids.

Stephen Moser: Lifetime Achievement for Sordid Portrayal of Sex -- John Waters for Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble. Truly debauched and truly Divine. Seeing is believing.

Margaret Moser: Most Misleading Video Box -- The Nurse. A nurse's outfit with garter and stocking display, a terse title -- The Nurse -- should have been the prescription for fun but was terminally misleading. And lethal.

Savlov: Best Allusion to Impromptu Sex Toys in a Recent Teen Sex Comedy -- American Pie. Alyson Hannigan's revelation that one time, at band camp, she, you know, with her flute, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Ow -- that's gotta hurt!

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