At the premiere of this HBO season The deuceActress Emily Meade, who plays Lori, a prostitute turned porn star, is seen half naked and chained to a water pipe along the roof of a movie set. She must look scared, says the director; No lines are required, the open-eyed look will sell it. She opens her legs and prepares for her roommates, a dildo and the leather man holding the dildo, until the heavy chains are released and the gun hits her in the right eye. The director, the sound boy, his pimp, nobody pays much attention when he cries out for help.
On the surface, it seems that it is only one more day for Lori, who experiences misogyny on the streets, and much of that in the first season, and misogyny on the set, a fact that remains a constant theme. In truth, the first and the second season, at least for Meade and Maggie Gyllenhaal and the other cast members who participate in the sex scene after sex scene in The deuce, are separated from each other, thanks in part to a person who does not appear in the camera: Alicia Rodis, actress, acrobatic and full-time intimacy coordinator who, in the era of #MeToo and #TimesUp, has found herself very in demand in recent times.
"As a doubles actor, I have a link all the time, someone who asks me if I'm okay with a 15-foot-tall fall that turns into an 18-foot-tall drop," says Rodin. "But as a day player, where is nudity and simulated sex? Nothing. If the actors are not responsible for their own fight scenes, why should they be responsible for participating in sex? "
It's a good question, especially when the risk behind a free fall and being vulnerable and naked before the camera is, for many, emotionally the same. Meade says he found himself thinking about it last year, before the production of the second season began, when news of inappropriate sexual behavior emerged around his co-star James Franco.
"I realized I was not well," says Meade having a coffee at TriBeCa. "Playing a prostitute and then a porn star with little preparation each week, which is the nature of television, was very stimulating for me." I wanted someone whose job was just to protect us in the sex scenes, because there are many factors when it comes to working with people who are your friends or your bosses; You do not want to disappoint anyone. "
Meade arrives some ten minutes late, fifteen if you count my five, and she is dressed in jeans and a faded vintage T-shirt cut in the stomach. With her eyes wide open and without makeup, she has an innate beauty: her headboard is dyed honey blond, the arches of her eyebrows are tall and long, and her lips form a natural pout. It is this natural sensuality that has impacted his releases since his first job. At age 16, her first foray into acting required the consent of the parents, since the role required nudity. She would continue to act on dozens of projects, all of which, according to her, would find some reason for nudity, including pilots of the television network, where it is illegal to show nudity.
"I remember a director once told me:" There is something in you that is so sweet and beautiful that you just want bad things to happen to you, "she says, shaking her head" I think it's a mixture of things, "she continues. his left arm is now rubbing his right shoulder, as if he were embracing. "I've had many complex experiences with sex, so maybe that's in me, maybe you can smell it."
For better or for worse, it's something he relied on at work, even though he only nude twice before The Deuce. "I'm good at disconnecting," she says about the defense mechanisms she developed while on set, as she rarely looked her co-stars in the eye when she was naked, the lack of intimacy that unfortunately led to her personal life. an athlete attitude according to my attitude, "Of course I'm fine." But I realized that I did not want to close anymore, I wanted to be present, but in a safe way ".
"What we are learning through the #MeToo movement, is that intention and impact are two very different things," says Rodis, who spent her formative years in dance, martial arts and "playing the best bitch friend" before dedicate to more. Physical work, as scenic combat. She and other artists of the movement would initiate Intimacy Directors International, a foundation that promotes and creates protocols for actors involved in sham sex, both physically and mentally, something that has never been implemented so surprisingly until now. "Anyone can have the best intentions, but if there is no impartial party present, someone who is not in a position of power, the impact can be very negative."
With the help of social workers, psychiatrists and experts who specialize in post-traumatic stress syndrome, Rodis and his organization do everything possible to create an environment of "informed consent". And not only for actors like Meade, but for the director and the sound. boy, too "It's not just the victim, but also the aggressor and the witness who experiences the trauma," he says. "I've had costume people who came up to me and said, 'You have no idea what I've seen'."
So, when Rodis got the HBO call, thanks to Meade raising his hand to the creators David Simon and George Pelecanos, he was not at all surprised, and he managed to set up, making sure everyone was comfortable before, after of, and during production in the second season. And just two days ago, HBO announced that they will have privacy coordinators on the set to monitor all programs that contain explicit sexual content.
Depending on the person and the role, it could mean a simple conversation about personal hygiene, from clean hands to good breath for the maintenance of body hair, especially if the scene requires an adhesive and a barrier between the stars. If the scene includes a difficult choreography, Rodis makes sure they are perfect. Another part of her work occurs long before the time of the call, something she calls "emotional aptitude." "Just like at certain times in life where you can be more physically fit, we feel the same about mental and emotional fitness, so if an actor goes through a difficult scene in the next few weeks, we'll talk about how to get to a positive mental space. " That could mean anything from therapy, yoga, meditation: "whatever it is that allows them to be present." themselves so they can be present with others. "
For Meade, and its own limitations, the preproduction of The deuce it meant a lot of small movement exercises, such as eye contact, contact with the consensual hand, where a person takes the hand of the other person and places it where it will be on the scene. "It was almost like a slumber party in high school, where we had to go down the stairs and look into each other's eyes, chew gum and talk about chewing gum and give us permission to touch us," says Meade, his stage companion in episode three, when Lori travels to Los Angeles without her CC pimp, and meets a boy she really likes. "I was acting like a 12-year-old kid, making jokes, wondering what I had done asking this intimacy coordinator until I realized that my stage partner calmed down with the exercise." It turned out to be the easiest and most comfortable sex scene. I did, "says Meade." I wish Alicia would come to all my appointments. "
The next episode of The deuce, titled "Nobody has to hurt himself", airs on HBO on Sunday, October 28 at 9 p.m.