This piece originally ran in 2014 but we are republishing it as part of Vulture ‘s week-long erotic thriller celebration.
A good sex scene is about a lot more than just showing some skin. (Though sometimes it’s about that, too!) In director John Dahl’s 1994 neo-noir The Last Seduction, Linda Fiorentino’s femme-fatale character Bridget Gregory turns sex into a spider’s web — a tool for ensnaring her victims. As the hapless Mike Swale, Peter Berg played one of Bridget’s character-revealing sexual conquests. He tells us about the experience.
I was hanging on for dear life in those scenes. Linda was by far the aggressor. There’s a scene where I had to tell her I was hung like a horse, and she stopped and said, “Really? Let’s see.” She unzipped my pants, reached down, and grabbed a hold of me and squeezed hard with a handful of ice. That’s when I knew I had my hands full with Fiorentino.
What I remember most about the chain-link-fence sex scene was we were shooting it at the end of the night. We never got a chance to talk about how we were going to do it. By the time we got outside to shoot, it was like 5 in the morning and the sun was coming up. We had no plan and I didn’t want to do something that looked embarrassing or stupid. I didn’t want to appear to be just this designated sex-toy without some plan.
I was suggesting that we maybe come back another day to shoot. John Dahl was upset because he knew he didn’t have the time to come back, and I was being all nervous, and Linda was just smoking a cigarette, watching. After about ten minutes of me rambling on, she threw down the cigarette, looked at me, told me to shut the fuck up, take my pants down, and get up against the fence. She said, “John, get a camera,” and she climbed up on me against that fence and told John Dahl to shoot it, and that was the scene. She thought of it, she conceived it, she executed it. It was awesome.
The reverse-cowgirl scene in the car, that was reverse cowgirl before there was even a name for it, you know what I mean? Linda Fiorentino created reverse cowgirl, and I was her horse. That was really a film about true sexual power, which is almost always in the hands of the woman. That’s one of the reasons that film resonated so strongly. People realized, Yeah, men might be bigger and stronger and might appear to be more dominant sexually, but the reality is the woman holds all the cards.
By the way, none of this feels even slightly sexual when you’re doing it. It’s not hot. It’s like Michael Caine’s famous line about sex scenes. The morning of the lovemaking scene, he brings flowers to his leading lady’s trailer, he knocks on the door, he presents her with a bouquet of flowers, and he always says the same thing. He says, “We’re doing our love scene today, and I really want to apologize in advance if, for any time during our lovemaking scene, I get an erection. And I also want to apologize if, at any point during our lovemaking scene, I do not get an erection.” That always stuck with me. You know, more times than not, it is not an arousing experience. It’s just not hot. I can’t speak about porn shoots, but I don’t imagine they’re all that hot, either.
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