Before there was vampire nudity on True Blood, Wilding nudity on Game of Thrones, old timey nudity on Boardwalk Empire and tortured white people nudity on Tell Me You Love Me, there was normal people nudity on Real Sex, HBO’s long-running documentary series about Six-Pack Sally and Pill-Popping Paul doing It.
I was too young and too HBO-less to regularly watch the show, which began airing in the summer of 1990 (not ’69, as it should have been), but I remember my friends talking about it in middle school — it’s tough to forget episode segments like “Riding the Orgasmic Wave” and “Sploshing,” even if you only hear them whispered during study hall. Anyway, Vulture spoke to five members of the Real Sex crew about what it was like to work for the show, an ORAL history if you will. Of particular note is the section about the kind of material that HBO flat out said no to.
Behind the scenes, though, the crew was often privy to things they never could have gotten away with airing on television, even on a show with a self-imposed R rating.
Marla Ratner: There was one event we filmed called the Smut Fest, and after this burlesque performance, people came onstage and started cutting each other with lasers. I remember thinking, I can’t believe this is happening in front of my eyes. We never showed that. We tried to keep it fun and sexy.
Patti Kaplan: There were two rules: no erections and no penetrations. Sometimes we’d show penetration but not the point of contact. It could be tricky. But we worked with phenomenally wonderful cameramen. It was very much vérité on the fly.
Katie Smalheer: I always had to go see the lawyer and sit in his office if there was a problem. He’d have the video up and we’d going through it. He’d be like, “For this I went to law school!”
Deb Wasser: The lawyers were very careful about what we could show. They would examine it frame by frame. What a job. Then they’d come back to us and say, remove these three frames. Of course when we were out there filming people really having sex, they weren’t stopping and starting for the camera. (Via)
I hope HBO revives the show and checks back with that incredibly Jewish lawyer. “For this pleasured myself!”