At Pornhub’s Consent Event, Chloë Sevigny Reflects On Working Without Intimacy Coordinators: ‘I’m Still Really Vulnerable And Uncomfortable’ (EXCLUSIVE)
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At Pornhub’s Consent Event, Chloë Sevigny Reflects on Working Without Intimacy Coordinators: ‘I’m Still Really Vulnerable and Uncomfortable’ (EXCLUSIVE)


At Pornhub’s Consent Event, Chloë Sevigny Reflects on Working Without Intimacy Coordinators: ‘I’m Still Really Vulnerable and Uncomfortable’ (EXCLUSIVE) 1

Pornhub launched a video series titled Consent Event on Wednesday. Produced in partnership with Pillow Talk, the series gathers artists, activists and academics for roundtable discussions about the different ways consent impacts daily life.

In an episode exclusively obtained by Variety, which you can see below, intimacy coordinator Teniece Divya Johnson moderates as panelists including Chloë Sevigny (“Boys Don’t Cry,” “The Girl From Plainville”) remember past experiences with on-screen sex and nudity where conversations about consent were not prioritized.

In particular, Sevigny thought back to a project she worked on in her 20s where her costar had a last-minute change of mind about performing in an intimate scene

“There’s a pivotal scene, and one of the actors knew what it was, they’ve lived this character forever, and they decide they don’t want to do it,” she said. “I’m caught between having to fight for the actor and what they want or don’t want, or how they want to participate or not participate, and the vision of the film and the director, who I also really believed in. Production stopped. Legal terms were thrown about. I really didn’t know how to act in that place. I wanted to serve both of them and I didn’t know how to do that.”

In the video, Johnson explained that “meeting people where they are” is one of the most important aspects of their work as an intimacy coordinator. “Especially in TV and film, everyone’s moving in such a fast trajectory towards a goal,” they said. “[But] time and space are the elements that are really essential to our consent process. Making sure that we have conversations with the director and get into some specifics.”

Johnson expanded on that in an interview with Variety, explaining that on a project that hires an intimacy coordinator, scenarios like what Sevigny described are far less likely to happen.

“That’s challenging, talking about mutable contracts. But I will say, in my experience as an intimacy coordinator, we don’t have that happen on the day. Because everyone has been involved in the conversation,” they said.

When an intimacy coordinator is present, they’re able to have multiple one-on-one conversations with both the filmmakers and the actors to discuss exact logistics regarding types of touch, levels of nudity, etc., mediating between the separate parties until agreements are made according to their comfort levels. These boundaries are written into their contracts, and remain subject to change. Therefore, the process of intimacy coordination often prevents last-minute changes, because everyone involved has already processed what they’re okay with and what they’ve agreed to.

“When someone does have a concern or a boundary with what’s being asked, we find it as an opportunity, creatively. How can we tell this story another way? Still convey the [story], and work within the limits of our human talent? — I like to say “human” and “people” a lot to remind us that yeah, we are at work! And what is the work if we’re creating harm? How can we be proud of ourselves then? I’m sure there’s another way we can do it.”

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Sevigny also told a more recent story in the video: “On a photo shoot, I was asked to take off my top, and there were tons of people in the room. I said to the photographer, who was my friend, ‘Can you ask everybody else to leave? Yes, I’ve been naked hundreds of times, but I’m still really vulnerable and uncomfortable.”

“Luckily, I can vocalize for myself, but I feel like we need more people around. Agents don’t do it,” she continued.

Johnson explained to Variety again that if an intimacy coordinator had been present for that photo shoot, Sevigny wouldn’t have had to make that request — a closed set with only essential personnel would be enforced during any moments of nudity.

Intimacy coordination is still a relatively new field, and thus far it’s most commonly used on scripted film and television sets, though Johnson says that the work is beginning to expand to other spaces, like photography.

“A lot of our consent practices [as intimacy coordinators] come from the porn industry check-ins. It comes from kink culture, making sure we have clear boundaries at the top. I’ve worked in the room with writers, and they want to talk about consent and boundaries. What does that look like in their storytelling? I’ve seen it pop up in a lot of areas: music videos, unscripted TV. People are now asking for help. Performers now know that something’s being asked of them that is beyond the ‘9-to-5,’ they can take a pause.”

And when asked about whether there are many intimacy coordinators working in porn, as well about their thoughts on the complicated legacies of porn industry and Pornhub in particular, they emphasized that the entertainment industry may actually have a lot to learn from porn.

“In terms of normalizing conversations about boundaries, I think the porn industry does it without as much shame and guilt as Hollywood. We [in the industry] are not necessarily enthusiastic about these conversations and the specifics of it. It’s harder for us,” they said. “And in terms of industries changing, I think time money is associated with art, there’s gonna be some questionable practices. But I’m inspired by the advocates that are loud and united and asking for a different way forward.”

[via]

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