John Cameron Mitchell thinks he’s ahead of a cinematic curve. “In the next five years, there’s going to be an explosion of real sex in art films,” predicts the director and star of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
His theory is that even uninhibited films like Y Tu Mamá También would be more honest if they didn’t “interrupt the natural flow of things” by leaving out the money shots. So he turned down a role in the new X-Men movie to direct something triple-X. He calls it the Sex Film Project.
Early this year, Mitchell put out a call for performers “who will be willing and able to have sex on camera” to play in “a seriously humorous exploration of romantic and sexual relationships in a modern New York City pansexual bohemian environment.” The script will be cobbled together in part out of the personal histories the actors tell on their audition tapes.
Getting cast quickly became an obsession among much of the downtown performance crowd. More than 300 tapes were sent in, and although Mitchell says a few former child actors have inquired—anything to resurrect a career—most respondents were unknowns (although Mitchell has dated a few of them).
On a cold afternoon, Mitchell is going through the tapes. He pops in one of a Canadian kid in a bright hoodie who recalls picking up a guy for the first time and being overwhelmed by his endowment—“What am I supposed to do with this? Plus, I had braces.” Cute, but not right.
Next is a nerdy gay kid in bondage pants talking about how “manny” he felt having sex with his female best friend (not a callback), and a redhead from a yoga colony who reads dirty poems with a Dr. Seuss cadence.
Then, finally, comes a woman in a platinum wig who recalls the “sex magic” of doing it with a gay couple. “They were touching each other through me.”
“Every part of the scene she described,” says Mitchell, “would be brilliant in the movie.” And so a star is born.