Image: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie
20th Century Fox
It takes two... John Smith (Brad Pitt) and Jane Smith (Angelina Jolie) find their secrets uncovered during this sexy tango scene in “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.”
updated 3/12/2008 5:19:42 PM ET 2008-03-12T21:19:42

Thank God for movie sex scenes. They’ve been turning the world on since the silent film days, like when Rudolph Valentino let his hand brush Vilma Bánky’s boob in 1926’s “Son of the Sheik.” But the trick is to never compare your own sex life with the perfectly choreographed, perfectly lit, perfectly satisfying ones served up by Hollywood. As two “experts” who’ve spent nine years writing about sex, you’d think we’d know that. And yet just the other night, Em re-rented “Sin City” with her husband and couldn’t help but notice that during the infamous lasso-dance scene, he was edge-of-his-seat rapt and white-knuckling the remote. Was he wishing she had Jessica Alba’s moves — or at least her thighs? No matter what kind of lovin’ you’re getting at home, Hollywood sex can seem like the bitchy sorority sister who’s always one-upping you.

So just for fun — and to make ourselves feel better — we enlisted the help of our friends to figure out the greatest myths propagated by cinema sex, and why the real thing can be a lot more satisfying.

Hollywood sex myth #1:
Women can orgasm in three seconds flat.
Plenty of movies perpetuate this lie, but our friend Jenna, 35, was particularly annoyed by the bathroom quickie in 2006’s “Catch & Release” (Timothy Olyphant does one of the caterers at his buddy’s wake while the widow, Jennifer Garner, hides behind the shower curtain). “He rams away at her against the sink and she comes just like that,” says Jenna. “Yeah, right!”

Where’s the slow build? Where’s the foreplay? Where’s the … clitoris? Most women can’t orgasm from penetration alone, nor can they come in mere seconds. “It did happen once for me, but I’ve been sexually active for more than 21 years,” says Kelly, 39. “In real life women just aren’t ready to have sex in two minutes — but it’s no wonder some guys are confused as to why it takes us so long.”

It’s enough to give a woman a complex: “The only way I’ve ever been able to orgasm is by pressing up against my boyfriend’s wristbone,” admits Julie, 26. “I used to feel like I was cheating my partner out of being with someone who could have a ‘proper’ orgasm. But I realized that most guys think it’s sexy to watch a woman come — no matter how she does it.”

Hollywood sex myth #2:
Inside each one of us is a pro stripper just waiting to get out.

Image: Natalie Portman in “Closer”
Sony Pictures
Natalie Portman lives out the stripper fantasy as Alice in  “Closer.”
There was a time, a decade or so back, when it was considered a risky career move for an actress to strip on camera —think of the woman who made the trend hot, Demi Moore in “Striptease.” But which young female star today hasn’t lived out the stripper fantasy? Natalie Portman in “Closer,” Elisha Cuthbert in “The Girl Next Door,” Rose McGowan in “Grindhouse,” Lindsay Lohan in “I Know Who Killed Me.” “Do you know how many Hollywood striptease scenes my boyfriend has downloaded from YouTube?” says Anna, 30. “How am I supposed to compete with that?!”

But let’s pause for a moment to consider just what it took to pull off these “spontaneous” moves. “Three hours of pole-dancing [lessons] and [I’m] bruised everywhere ... like a walking black-and-blue mark,” quipped Lindsay Lohan.

You are, of course, perfectly within your rights to never do a striptease in your life, but if you’re one of those overachieving types who just have to try, take it from three Playboy bunnies we interviewed in L.A.: (1) Nobody looks sexy taking off jeans while standing up. In fact, any kind of pants are almost impossible to strip out of. It has to be a skirt or a dress! (2) Practice with your song beforehand. (3) Wear a few layers and lots of buttons so you’re not done in five seconds. (4) Heels make you look sexy no matter what. (5) Swinging your hips while unbuttoning slooowly is the only move you really need.

Hollywood sex myth #3:
Fooling around in awkward places is so much sexier!
Out there in Hollywoodland, no one ever gets chilly in the rain (“The Notebook,” “Match Point”); no one gets uncomfortable on the

Image: Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams in “The Notebook”
New Line
Don't they get chilly? Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Rachel McAdams) get wet and wild in “The Notebook.”
piano (“Pretty Woman”) or the staircase (“A History of Violence,” the remake of “The Thomas Crown Affair”) or by the train tracks (“Notes on a Scandal”); and no one gets a urinary tract infection from getting down in the pool or hot tub without waterproof lube (“Wild Things”). Back here in real life, however, few women have the focus to coax out an orgasm when they’re miles away from a warm bed (or at least a sofa). Says Janice, 34: “One time I tried doing it with my boyfriend against a tree on the way home from a bar. Maybe I’d been watching too many movies, but I’d been feeling like our sex life was pretty staid. Well, doing it against the scratchy bark felt urgent and sexy for about three seconds, and then all I could think about was how much it hurt and whether we were going to get busted by a passing car.” If you insist on doing it in the rain or between stops on an empty train, here’s a tip: Start the foreplay at home so you’re both raring to go once you’re in position. Also, wear a skirt with no undies for easy, instant access — and quick covering up if you do get caught in the headlights.

Hollywood sex myth #4:
Everyone comes together, every time.
If you’ve seen the show “Californication,” you’ve probably noticed that David Duchovny’s drunken layabout character, who barely lifts a finger in

Image: "When Harry Met Sally"
Columbia Pictures
Who can forget Sally Albright's (Meg Ryan) feigned orgasm scene in "When Harry Met Sally"?
bed, can still pull a simultaneous orgasm out of the bag with his one-night stands. Ditto McNulty with his attorney booty call on “The Wire.” Hollywood directors, it seems, would like you to believe that having simultaneous orgasms is simply a matter of timing, kind of like catching a bus. But in real life, rarely does the same thing do it for both parties. “This annoyed me on the show ‘Tell Me You Love Me,’ ” says Emily, 38. “The young couple, Hugo and Jamie, come together every single time, even when they have a quickie in the car!” That said, the sex-heavy HBO show redeemed itself in the season finale. “My boyfriend and I were watching that mutual masturbation scene between the sexless couple where they each have a hand down their own pants and are grinding up against each other,” says our friend Kat, 29. “I looked at my boyfriend and said, ‘Now that would work!’ just as he said to me, ‘Now that’s hot!’ ”

Hollywood sex myth #5:
No one ever pauses to put on a condom, even with one-night stands.
Think about it: When have you ever seen an on-screen couple discuss condoms before jumping into bed together? “Knocked Up” is the only film we can think of where the existence of condoms is even acknowledged (if not put to use — oh well!). In most movies characters have sex with no protection, sometimes barely knowing each other’s names — and it happens in everything from fluffy romances like “Love Actually” to suspense flicks like “Femme Fatale” and “The Departed” (he was in the mob, and she still didn’t use a condom!). Says Claire, 22: “If they ever showed someone like Eva Mendes suggesting protection, maybe I’d find it a little less awkward to pull it off myself.”

Hollywood sex myth #6:
Everyone looks really pretty during sex!
The warmly lit love scenes in chick flicks like “Shakespeare in Love” and “The Holiday” and on teen TV shows like “The O.C.” are particularly at fault here. But even in the famously raw sex scene from “Monster’s Ball,” Halle Berry’s hair didn’t frizz a bit, and she just happened to be wearing a nice thong. “Come on!” says Katherine, 36, a stay-at-home mom in Atlanta. “Half the time you’re lying around in sweats, and it just happens. And during? My neck gets red splotches, my legs and armpits usually need shaving, and I am sure my facial expression looks as constipated as my husband’s does.” Which is not to say that she doesn’t find this hot — in fact, what Hollywood often misses out on is that moments like these are when we can feel the most intense personal connections. Explains Katherine: “No matter how stressed we are before sex, during it he just looks like a 16-year-old boy, so excited to be getting lucky, which makes me feel like a raunchy high school prom queen, adding to the cheap thrills!” With sex like that, who cares about razor stubble?

Image: Angela Bassett, Taye Diggs in "How Stella Got Her Groove Back."
Twentieth Century Fox
A vacation turns into a hot and steamy romance when Stella (Angela Bassett) hooks up with Winston (Taye Diggs) in "How Stella Got Her Groove Back."

Hollywood sex myth #7: Standing up is sooooo good! We’ve both tried standing sex, and the reality is this: He has to crouch awkwardly; his penis keeps slipping out; you can’t get any leverage; and the bigger the height difference between you, the worse things are. We can’t figure out how Keira Knightley and James McAvoy managed to get so freakin’ orgasmic while doing it standing up in “Atonement.” And beware standing sex in the shower — it’s slippery, and that soap-dish holder isn’t as firmly attached as it looks. At least that’s what our friend Jenna tells us: “I've got two words for you: bruised tailbone.”

Hollywood sex myth #8: When it doubt, raid the fridge. Call us cynics, but when we think of food and sex (yes, we’re talking to you, “9½ Weeks” and “Varsity Blues”), we can’t help but think of stickiness, Spray ‘n Wash and two loads of laundry. And “Last Tango in Paris” and the butter scene? That gave us nightmares for weeks! Even the food goddess Nigella Lawson, who’s famous for seductively licking cooking implements on TV, said recently, “I’ve never understood that whole dripping chocolate on someone. I can see how if you’re with someone you’re not particularly interested in, then using food as a prop might help. But food with sex just doesn’t do it for me.” Give us sex and give us chocolate (yes, in that order), but not at the same time, please.

Glamour contributing editors Em & Lo blog about sex and the modern woman at

Copyright © 2012 CondéNet. All rights reserved.


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