If there’s one thing we enjoy here at Frock Flicks, it’s some good shagging in costume. And we know you do to, because you’re always searching for it on our site — you can’t fool us, we see the search logs, we know you’re constantly looking up “sex scenes in historical movies,” “corset sex movies,” “historical sex movies,” “sex scene in costume movie,””19th century sex scene movies,” “17 century sex scene holy wod,” “historic pornos,” “costume sex movie,” “neverseenfuckflicks,” “sex in frock,” “historically sexual movie,” “top 10 historical sexy movie,” and the ever popular “hot gay men” and “frock sex.” This is nothing new, since we launched the blog, you’re all in for the costume drama sex as much as we are, and that’s 100% OK!
But the problem is that not all historical costume movies and TV shows really know how to deliver good frock sex. There’s an art and science to hot historical movie sex scenes, and “Holy Wod” would do well to listen up for our advice (or even Hollywood, and maybe the BBC, ITV, and yes, Canal+ because they think they know what we want, but they’re not always nailing the corset sex movies, despite their reputation).
1. Get the costumes right before you take them off
This is number one for a reason. Obviously, us frock flickers are a specific market, but we will have a difficult time believing in anything about the scene if the characters rip off a corset in five seconds or, worse, they take off their historical costumes to reveal modern underwear. A big part of what makes historical costume sex hot is the costume!
We love everything from the delicate rolling down of a glove for a genteel kiss to cunnilingus under a hoopskirt. In Secret (2013) is THE BEST movie for showing how to have sex while still wearing a full Victorian costume (it’s a shitty movie for everything else, btw). The proper historical costume makes the sex so much more sexy. Don’t skimp, or we won’t get off.
2. You need chemistry, or a good plot point
Any onscreen sex scene benefits from good chemistry between the actors. Outlander is so fucking hot because Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan work really really well together even when the story stretches credulity (Jezebel extends this from the actors to the characters, saying “Jamie and Claire only have chemistry with each other and literally no one else on the show”).
Likewise, Original Sin (2001) is hothothot because Angelina Jolie and Antonio Bandaras just work together. And the lead actresses in Mystère à la Tour Eiffel (2017) absolutely spark off each together as the wacky mystery plot forces them around and about and in love.
2. The setting matters
Some historical movies layer in the sex, but it’s totally unsexy simply because of where the sex happens. Bathory: Countess of Blood (2008) has a some very unsexy battlefield rape that’s not staged in a believable manner (random naked women running around and getting grabbed and molested) so it neither looks like a historical action nor like sex. It’s just gratuitous nudity, and that’s not sexy here.
Bathory also includes a lot of nightmarish dream-sequence sex scenes that, while including full-frontal male nudity — usually something we’re fans of — are a turn-off because it’s more horror movie than hot stuff.
3. Historically accurate lighting is everything
One word: Candlelight. If the show is in a pre-electricity era, candlelight is a must. Full daylight isn’t as sexy, and total darkness isn’t that sexy either. A good lighting director is important in any movie or TV production here. Take some advice from Cesare and Catherina Sforza in The Borgias (2011-13).
4. Don’t use too modern of music
As much as I enjoyed the 1980s new wave music throughout Sophia Coppla’s Marie-Antoinette (2006), using Adam Ant during the Queen and Fersen’s sex scene felt cheap and less sexy to me. It was too cutesy and not hot, even though both parties involved were hot, the setting was hot, etc.
The arty cinematographic style of Henry & June (1990) might not be everyone’s fave (I love the hell out of it), but the soundtrack filled with Josephine Baker, Bing Crosby, Debussy, French and Spanish folk songs, and tunes like Erik Satie’s “Je te veux” all fit the bohemian Paris 1931 setting for the NC-17-rated triangle between diarist Anaïs Nin, writer Henry Miller, and his wife June.
4. Say the right things, or keep quiet
When the Vicomte de Valmont says to Cecile, “Let me teach you some Latin words” in Dangerous Liaisons (1988), it’s sexy because, not only is she into it by this point, but you know it’s going to be a lesson worth learning.
But when Chevalier de Sainte-Croix in Marquise of Darkness (2010) prattles on to Marie about all the amazing special effects of his aphrodisiacs, ugh, he’s just talk and no razzle-dazzle.
5. Tease, then show
We like a bit of a tease, you know, what’s wrong with a kiss? You don’t have to go leaping straight for the sexy parts like a bull at a gate, you know. Moll Flanders (1996) is a jolly period romp from a woman’s point of view and gives a nice sweet, flirty lead in to each conquest, the most with Moll’s true love.
Another great tease is the mutual masturbation scene in Nora (2000). James Joyce (played by Ewan McGregor) and his wife Nora (Susan Lynch) are separated, reading each other’s letters, and jacking themselves off. It’s like ultra low-tech phone sex or sexting. Their words describing how much they miss each other and want to fuck are a huge tease to the characters, and the audience gets a full, satisfying show.
6. Slow it down, or speed it up
The slow-fade is a cop-out. That’s the weakest of the weaksauce sex scene where there’s a few kisses, a laydown, and fade to black. Blink and you miss it, but the implication in later scenes is that two people had sex. BORING. Braveheart (1995) is notorious for this, and the damn movie has so much explicit violence and bullshit nonsense that drags on for hours, there should be time for a decent sex scene. See also, Downton Abbey and Poldark. Slow that thing down and show us the money.
Conversely, the scene could be speeded up to a quickie of actual sex. Think Queen Margot (1994), up against the wall, pas le bouche! Also, Versailles, season one, episode 2, did a fabulous job of showing Louis having sex (including stand-up cunnilingus) with Henriette and fast-cutting that between a fight of his brother Phillipe, in drag. As the punches flew, Louis got down and dirty. Kiss kiss bang bang! Yes, please.
7. Give equal time for everyone
Boobs and butts and full-frontal for all! That’s the Frock Flicks motto when it comes to sex onscreen. Either show everybody’s skin or don’t show anyone’s (we prefer the former). Also, let’s show both women and men enjoying sex, whether they’re partnered or solo, same-sex or opposite-sex.
Maurice (1987) — a gay male Edwardian love story — and Breaking the Code (1996) — an Alan Turing biopic — have decent showings of male butts, and Versailles is OK (at least in the uncensored version) at showing almost as many butts as boobs. But c’mon, female breasts are all over the place, yet male full-frontal is still taboo? That’s the fucking patriarchy talking, and we are NOT here for it.
8. Historical consequences should happen
We cover movies and TV set in historical eras before reliable birth control. It’s fair for stories to consider the consequences of some types of sexual activity. Not every production has to be The Scarlet Letter, of course, but think about how Harlots (2017-) has one of the prostitutes give birth at the end of the first season. At least allude to the fact, please.
Also, the consequences don’t have to be suicide — I’m looking at you, Madame Bovary (2014).
We know you want it, now what are your sex tips for historical costume movies and TV shows?