March 21, 2023
EP. S2E35 — That Swarm Sex Scene w/ Sasha Nicolle Smith
Chlöe Bailey’s explicit sex scene in Swarm created fiery discourse online, so Ashley turns to Swarm’s intimacy coordinator Sasha Nicolle Smith to get the exclusive behind the scenes scoop on the realistic (but FAKE, duh!) sex scene. Sasha details everything that goes into planning and shooting TV sex scenes, spills some tea about Rory Culkin’s penis close-up in Swarm, shares tips on how to make a kiss look smokin’ hot, and even brings a real example of the pilates ball she places between actors’ bodies.
What We Watched:
Daisy Jones & the Six
90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way
Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal
OnlyFans: Selling Sexy
Money Shot: The Pornhub Story
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S2E35 — That Swarm Sex Scene w/ Sasha Nicolle Smith
[00:00:52] SASHA SMITH: I’m happy to be here.
[00:00:53] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. You are an intimacy coordinator for a few shows, most recently Swarm. And you also worked on Daisy Jones & The Six, I believe.
[00:01:02] SASHA SMITH: I did.
[00:01:03] ASHLEY RAY: Which I am also obsessed with. So, we’re going to get into all of that. We’re going to get into how you become an intimacy coordinator, because I would like to know. And then we’re going to get into the Swarm of it all, because let me tell you, this episode had to come together quickly because I saw how in need Twitter–the internet–was of some clarity on Swarm.
[00:01:25] SASHA SMITH: A little education.
[00:01:27] ASHLEY RAY: A little education. You were on Twitter saying, “I don’t understand why people are confused about the work I did.” And I was like, “Well, you got to come tell the people.”
[00:01:35] SASHA SMITH: Okay. Beautiful. So happy to be here to talk about it.
[00:01:38] ASHLEY RAY: Yes! We’re going to get into that. Before we do, we’re going to get into our watchlist. I’m going to share a few things that I watched. If you’re watching anything right now, let’s talk about it. Obviously, we all binged Swarm. We’ll get to that later. But as soon as it was out, I was up till 4:00 a.m., watching all those episodes. So that’s how you know you need to go watch it. It is incredible, unlike anything I’ve seen on TV. But we’ll get to all that. I do want to talk Daisy Jones & The Six. Have you seen it all?
[00:02:04] SASHA SMITH: This is, like, the first time that I have a bunch of shows out that are, like, buzzing. And I typically don’t watch my work after it’s out! You know, because it feels like work. And I’m always like, “Ooh, we could have caught that. Ooh, maybe that movement wasn’t communicating what I wanted.” So, I’m, like, constantly reworking. So, it was also so funny to know that this was coming out and, like, that it’s causing so much buzz. I can only talk about from what we did on set, you know?
[00:02:35] ASHLEY RAY: The crew is so great. The songs are so fun. I’m obsessed with it. I can’t stop. My friends and family hate me because I can’t stop singing these songs around the house. Like, they’ll just be like, “Take the trash out.” And I’m like, “We can make a good thing bad.”
[00:02:49] SASHA SMITH: I have been counting down for the soundtrack to come out since we wrapped. We were all singing it on set. We were all bopping along. They get stuck in your head.
[00:02:57] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah, they’re all like, “Go ahead and regret me.” I’m like, “Yes. Yeah. I love The Six.”
[00:03:03] SASHA SMITH: Give us the angst.
[00:03:05] ASHLEY RAY: And then people were like, “Actually, none of it’s real. It’s basically Fleetwood Mac fan fiction.” I was like, “Oh, okay.”
[00:03:11] SASHA SMITH: Well, it’s working for me.
[00:03:12] ASHLEY RAY: In this latest episode, there is a sex scene with Daisy and her husband that is miserable. Like, she is just laying there like the most sad, horrific person.
[00:03:26] SASHA SMITH: Right.
[00:03:27] ASHLEY RAY: And I wonder, like, does an intimacy coordinator, like, work on these scenes, too, to be like, “Okay, you have to look uncomfortable”? Like, how does that go?
[00:03:33] SASHA SMITH: So first and foremost, I’m always rooting, like, every action back to the story. So, if it is like, “Well, this character is in love with another person and is finding more passion on stage with them…”
[00:03:45] ASHLEY RAY: I think she was just mad she couldn’t homewreck.
[00:03:47] SASHA SMITH: Correct.
[00:03:47] ASHLEY RAY: Daisy Jones loves to homewreck. And if she’s not homewrecking, she’s like, “Why am I here?”
[00:03:52] SASHA SMITH: She’s a little bit of a self-saboteur, you know? So, she’s ready to, like, you know, get in there where she can. A little danger, I think, is key to her. And, like, finding her passion. And so yeah, when she’s in this safe, stable, loving, communicative, romantic, soft kind of situation.
[00:04:16] ASHLEY RAY: With a literal prince.
[00:04:17] SASHA SMITH: Literally. You know, we do see her a bit dissociated, and I think it’s really, again, coming back to the story. She’s not going to be throwing herself around and doing anything performative for it because she is kind of processing if this is what she wants in the moment. So those actions always have to reflect.
[00:04:37] ASHLEY RAY: And then it’s a full circleness of–I’m not going to spoil it for you listeners–but just, like, her in the shower being held. Just beautifully, wonderfully done. What are you watching this week?
[00:04:47] SASHA SMITH: Okay, so I’m in this void of there’s no more Last of Us and there’s no more Poker Face because I watched it all. So, I’ve been rewatching The Hills.
[00:04:59] ASHLEY RAY: We love it. Fair. We love it.
[00:05:02] SASHA SMITH: I was like, “This was a quick turnaround.” So, I was like, “Maybe I can, like, watch something really quick and, like, have something more interesting to say than, like, this toxic show from 2015.”
[00:05:11] ASHLEY RAY: I had a friend who started rewatching it because, I guess, they’re trying to bring it back or something, which you don’t need to.
[00:05:18] SASHA SMITH: I pray for therapy for everyone before they go back into it, but yeah.
[00:05:22] ASHLEY RAY: They will never capture that energy again. But I started rewatching some old ones and just forgot the experience of watching that show.
[00:05:31] SASHA SMITH: It was a thing! It was, like, kind of the first of its kind of like, “There’s going to be a reunion, and they’re going to talk about all the drama that happened preseason.”
[00:05:42] ASHLEY RAY: “What are they doing now? And who’s still dating?”
[00:05:44] SASHA SMITH: Exactly. And can they talk about it because there’s clearly, like, legal things happening behind doors that we don’t know about, but they have to talk about it.
[00:05:52] ASHLEY RAY: And I always love, like, how you feel like you really are rooting for them. You’re like, “I really need Lauren to, like, get the internship.” And then you’re like, “This is all staged.”
[00:06:00] SASHA SMITH: Literally staged.
[00:06:02] ASHLEY RAY: None of this is real.
[00:06:04] SASHA SMITH: I, as a 33-year-old woman, have to remind myself of that.
[00:06:07] ASHLEY RAY: I have to be like, “This is not real.”
[00:06:10] SASHA SMITH: “This is not real life for them.”
[00:06:12] ASHLEY RAY: For things that aren’t real, I am still watching 90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way, listeners. Last night’s episode was… Are you watching The Other Way?
[00:06:21] SASHA SMITH: I am not.
[00:06:21] ASHLEY RAY: Okay, so The Other Way is my favorite 90 Day spin off. It’s the wildest one. It’s where Americans go to other countries and are like, “I’m going to live here with my love.” This season we have a girl who has gone to, like, Egypt to be with her Muslim husband who is like, “Hey, so remember when I said if you’re going to marry me, you have to wear a burka and, like, follow the customs of my country and religion?” And she was like, “I know you said that, but I kind of just thought you didn’t mean it.” Like, she goes to Egypt and just wants to keep wearing her clothes. And his whole family is like, “Uh.”
[00:06:54] SASHA SMITH: “Who is this disrespectful person?”
[00:06:56] ASHLEY RAY: And he’s like, “But, honey, I told you how important that was.” And she’s just like, “Well, yeah, but I thought we’d, like, compromise.”
[00:07:04] SASHA SMITH: Not on that.
[00:07:07] ASHLEY RAY: And she’s just, like, the youngest, like, little blond, white girl from, like, Silverlake. She’s just like, “I just don’t understand. Like, the family, like, wants me to…” There’s this whole thing where she wanted to get dinner with her husband and his friends, which is a very normal thing. There, as soon as she said it, he was like, “Are you crazy? We don’t do that here. I’ve never met the wife of one of my friends. No, we don’t do that.” And she was like, “No, we’re doing it. You’re hiding something.” And so, they go do it. And she, like, sits with all these men. You can tell they’re so uncomfortable. They don’t want to say anything. And then she starts going, “This is really uncomfortable. Why did you bring me here? I can’t believe this is– I just want to go home. I don’t even want to be here.” And he’s like, “What did I tell you?”
[00:07:52] SASHA SMITH: Babe. You were warned. You’re just not listening at this point.
[00:07:57] ASHLEY RAY: So, this newest episode–we got more of her. She’s breaking down. The biggest thing for me was Gabe and Isabel finally went to meet Isabel’s parents. And Gabe is, like, slowly trying to come out as trans. And so, they have this, like, really tense dinner where you’re like, “Is he going to bring it up now?” And he’s, like, talking them into it. And he’s like, “So what kind of man would you want for her?” And they’re like, “Someone who just loves her.” And he’s like, “Yeah, I’m like, all of that, right? Right?” And then he keeps going like, “And how about one who is trans?” And then of course that’s right where the episode ends.
[00:08:32] SASHA SMITH: Yeah. Right. Exactly. Cliffhanger.
[00:08:34] ASHLEY RAY: We’ll find out next week. But I mean, that to me is kind of what makes 90 Day still interesting–these real human moments of just, you know, the fear of, like, “I want her family to love him because he’s so sweet. Her kids love him.” And I think you only get that now from 90 Day: The Other Way. All the other spin offs now are just like, “Oh, she’s coming to America because she wants to get fillers or something.” All respect to that.
[00:09:00] SASHA SMITH: Right. Like, rooting it back to, like, the human core of, like, “I need to be loved. I fell in love impulsively. Now we have to work through that with all our human stuff.”
[00:09:11] ASHLEY RAY: Exactly. Up next on the watchlist: Grand Crew. Have you been watching this?
[00:09:14] SASHA SMITH: I have not been watching Grand Crew, but I’ve been hearing it’s amazing. It’s our girl Ana Gasteyer?
[00:09:19] ASHLEY RAY: No, that is American Auto. Also amazing. And they used to be on at, like, the same night–back-to-back–which was genius. You got American Auto, Grand Crew–wonderful lineup. This year NBC said, “Let’s keep American Auto on Tuesdays, move Grand Crew to Friday night.”
[00:09:34] SASHA SMITH: Huh.
[00:09:38] ASHLEY RAY: Which, if you know TV, is not a good night. As soon as I saw they were moving, I was like, “Oh no.” I think they thought it would get a lead in from Lopez vs Lopez. But I don’t think anyone’s watching that show either.
[00:09:51] SASHA SMITH: Do we feel like there’s maybe, like, a renaissance towards, like, TGIF again coming? No.
[00:09:58] ASHLEY RAY: No. If I said TGIF to, like, a 12-year-old, I think they’d be like, “What?”
[00:10:02] SASHA SMITH: “The restaurant?”
[00:10:06] ASHLEY RAY: So, I’m worried they’re going to cancel it. So, I’m really pushing for people to watch it because this second season is so good. If you’re not familiar, Grand Crew is about a group of Black friends in LA, who are just loving living life. It’s basically, like, a Black Happy Endings if you watched that show.
[00:10:22] SASHA SMITH: Copy.
[00:10:24] ASHLEY RAY: It’s silly. It’s over-the-top. It’s just wonderful.
[00:10:28] SASHA SMITH: Oh my gosh. I’m in.
[00:10:30] ASHLEY RAY: And it has Nicole Byer.
[00:10:31] SASHA SMITH: We love Nicole!
[00:10:32] ASHLEY RAY: We love Nicole–friend of the podcast. Carl Tart–friend of the podcast. So, you got to go watch Grand Crew. The last episode that aired this past Friday was the funniest one that they’ve done yet. There’s a whole scene where these two Black guys, like, communicate just totally, like, mentally, and it’s already blowing up on Twitter. But it’s just one of the funniest scenes. So, you got to do Grand Crew.
[00:10:55] SASHA SMITH: This is going to fill my, like, post-Last of Us/Poker Face…
[00:10:59] ASHLEY RAY: See, we’re all in this little waiting period of like, “Okay, Yellowjackets comes back. Succession comes back next week.” But we just have this week of like, “What do we watch?”
[00:11:09] SASHA SMITH: “What are we watching?” Right.
[00:11:10] ASHLEY RAY: Like, I watched six documentaries last week because I just didn’t have anything else to watch.
[00:11:16] SASHA SMITH: Right. I just caught up on the Alex Murdaugh documentary.
[00:11:19] ASHLEY RAY: Which one?
[00:11:20] SASHA SMITH: The Netflix one.
[00:11:21] ASHLEY RAY: Yes. I love the Netflix one.
[00:11:25] SASHA SMITH: Well, apparently… So, I haven’t watched the one on HBO, but it was, like, before the trials, so everyone was, like, a little cagey, apparently. They’re like, “Allegedly, I think maybe this happened.” And now the Netflix one–I feel like they’re like, “No, he did it. And this is what happened.”
[00:11:40] ASHLEY RAY: The HBO one–you can tell they still don’t have a lot of the people who were first hand witnesses on the boat accident. So, a lot of the people interviewed are like, “Well, at the hospital, the Cory kids said he was boating, so maybe it wasn’t Paul…” And then in the Netflix one, Cory is right there like, “It was not me. I was not driving. That was him.” And it’s like, “This is the doc that I wanted to see.”
[00:12:01] SASHA SMITH: I also love that his partner is, like, hyping him up but also like, “Keep it cute; we’re on TV. Wear your best button up, though.”
[00:12:11] ASHLEY RAY: And I love that it did provide more perspective from Mallory Beach’s friends and the women that were involved because the HBO one–the main guy friend is the main narrator. And it’s irritating because by the end of it, he’s like, “I mean, yeah, he killed my girlfriend, but all I could do was hug Paul and say, ‘I still love you. I forgive you.’”
[00:12:33] SASHA SMITH: He’s real ride or die about it.
[00:12:37] ASHLEY RAY: It’s like, “What? He killed your girlfriend.” And the Netflix one is all her friends who are like, “No. Screw him. Also, beyond that, he was abusive to her beforehand. And, like, he’d done all this stuff. We were all telling her to leave him.” And you didn’t get any of that from the other doc.
[00:12:52] SASHA SMITH: And that’s the thing. Like, what I’ve learned from a documentary–there’s always a pattern. So, there are always some red flags that we’re missing.
[00:13:00] ASHLEY RAY: As fans of Evil Lives Here on the pod, there were signs. When she met Bobby, things seemed great at first, but there were signs. I gotta recommend the Netflix Murdaugh doc. That was a good choice. I did do a Dueling Doc writeup, as you know, on my newsletter. Listeners, I compare different documentaries about the same subjects, and the Netflix one came out on top for me.
[00:13:28] SASHA SMITH: It’s a bit more candid.
[00:13:29] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah, more candid. It’s the one I would go with. The other dueling docs I did recently, which is also on my watchlist–I just watched Selling Sexy: The Story of OnlyFans, which is on Hulu, and Money Shot: The Story of Pornhub, which is on Netflix. They both deal with, like, the similar topic of how the sex industry has changed. The Money Shot Pornhub doc really looks at how Pornhub is evil. But it also, like, looks at how Pornhub is evil, but it also doesn’t want to say Pornhub is evil because they use a lot of creators who are like, “Some of it’s evil. The company is evil. But, like, the creators aren’t evil, so they shouldn’t be punished.” But it’s also like…
[00:14:14] SASHA SMITH: The capitalism of it all.
[00:14:17] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. The capitalism of it all. And they look at sort of the big picture structures of why creators are in this position. And then the OnlyFans documentary follows four OnlyFans creators basically over the last three years.
[00:14:31] SASHA SMITH: Well, because it’s fairly new.
[00:14:33] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah, like, it follows them from just before the pandemic to now. And it’s interesting because you see some of them… It starts with this one girl who, before the pandemic, is like, “Well, I posted a twerk video on Instagram, and I got a lot of likes. And someone was like, ‘You could just post twerk videos on OnlyFans and make money.’” And so that’s how she starts. She’s just doing, like, clothed twerk videos. By the time we get to 2022, she is like, “I encouraged my mom to quit her job so she could become my manager.”
[00:15:04] SASHA SMITH: Okay, momager.
[00:15:05] ASHLEY RAY: Yep. Yeah, she’s totally Kris Jenner. She’s like, “So my mom is my manager. I’m negotiating a threesome scene that my mom is, like, negotiating for me.” And straight up, her mom is like, “So I think we’re going to do, like, a 60-40 female to male ratio. You’ll spend this much time with the man.”
[00:15:24] SASHA SMITH: Her mom and I sound like we have very similar jobs.
[00:15:26] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. Like, straight up, her mom is just like, “Yeah. I don’t know if that content will do well with your fans. Maybe a little more titty.” Like, it is wild.
[00:15:36] SASHA SMITH: Okay. Come on, sex positivity and keeping it in the family.
[00:15:38] ASHLEY RAY: Really. And, like, the mom is so supportive–
[00:15:40] SASHA SMITH: Well, not keeping it in the family.
[00:15:44] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. And, like, the mom is so supportive. And I’m just like, “I did not know this was the duty of motherhood these days. Editing your daughter’s OnlyFans footage…”
[00:15:54] SASHA SMITH: Well, I mean, like… Okay, if this is a part of someone’s person and we don’t want to stigmatize it and we don’t want to shame it…
[00:15:59] ASHLEY RAY: Exactly.
[00:16:01] SASHA SMITH: How do you connect with your daughter or your child to be like, “Oh, you’re really in a lucrative business. I want to help.”
[00:16:11] ASHLEY RAY: “Make sure you’re doing it safely.” You know, like, the mom drives her to the threesome and is, like, checking in after like, “What happened? Tell me what’s going on.” And I’m like, “That’s good.” Despite the fact that I think it’s so weird.
[00:16:21] SASHA SMITH: I’m trying to be so positive about it, but it’s like, yeah, where’s the boundary?
[00:16:28] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah, where is the boundary? And it’s just like all of the girls in the show–you see them slowly all kind of start… One girl was like, “I fix car engines in a bikini.” And by the end of it, she’s fucking on the cars.
[00:16:41] SASHA SMITH: Right.
[00:16:42] ASHLEY RAY: Eventually, all of them kind of realize, like, if you want to make money, you eventually have to. And it’s like you just get desensitized to it.
[00:16:50] SASHA SMITH: Wow.
[00:16:50] ASHLEY RAY: That’s the part in the doc that made me kind of go, “Okay, that’s the problem.”
[00:16:53] SASHA SMITH: And that’s predatory.
[00:16:54] ASHLEY RAY: It’s predatory. And they’re doing it because of capitalism. They know this will make them more money. It’s not that they want to do it, it’s just that they want to be able to compete with other people on OnlyFans. So that’s where I’m like, “Eh…”
[00:17:06] SASHA SMITH: The push for constant content, which again–as we’ll get to it later–I think that’s part of the issue that’s happening right now and, like, having a voice and making sure that your opinion is heard. And with sex being so consumable right now with, like, OnlyFans and Pornhub, I think OnlyFans gives us a really specific lens into people’s, quote unquote, “personal sex lives,” even though it again is still curated by moms.
[00:17:35] ASHLEY RAY: You know, it is curated. There are still models who are like, “I do this for OnlyFans, but I don’t date this person.”
[00:17:41] SASHA SMITH: Right. Or like, “This is not even a real representation of my actual sexuality.”
[00:17:47] ASHLEY RAY: But people are so convinced, “Oh, I bought the boyfriend experience on your OnlyFans. This is what it’s like.” And that is what terrified me about it. So, I would definitely recommend Selling Sexy Hulu doc over the Netflix one on Pornhub, which is still good. Watch them both to really get a good sense of the adult sex industry. But the OnlyFans one is the one that made me be like, “Oh man. This is a bubble that’s going to burst. There are just too many creators.”
[00:18:15] SASHA SMITH: I also feel like that’s the thing about documentaries right now; that’s the scoop. We’re not really watching news in the same way. Like, I was a big Dateline kid growing up. Dateline, 20/20, 60 Minutes. So, like, we don’t really have those anymore. So, the doc is the scoop of, like, “Something’s gonna break!”
[00:18:38] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. And the thing is, we do still have 20/20, Dateline.
[00:18:40] SASHA SMITH: They’re all there.
[00:18:41] ASHLEY RAY: They’re all still there, still airing fresh episodes ’cause I still watch it.
[00:18:43] SASHA SMITH: I do, too.
[00:18:45] ASHLEY RAY: But it’s crazy because I’ll see people on Twitter go, “Have you seen that documentary on Hulu about this?” And I’m like, “That’s not a documentary. That’s an episode of 2020. That’s a Dateline episode. So that’s not a documentary. Someone’s like, “Oh, did you see the Hulu Murdaugh doc?” And I was like, “That was a Dateline episode about the Murdaugh family.” Still very good.
[00:19:06] SASHA SMITH: Not the same media.
[00:19:07] ASHLEY RAY: Not the same media. And that is sort of the level of media literacy that I feel like we’re losing. And with that, we’re going to take a quick break. And come back–we’re going to get into Swarm, media literacy, sex scenes.
[00:19:19] SASHA SMITH: Yes.
[00:19:20] ASHLEY RAY: We’re going get in all of it. And we’re back. Okay, let’s get into it.
[00:19:34] SASHA SMITH: Yeah.
[00:19:34] ASHLEY RAY: First, let’s talk about Swarm as a show. Have you also not watched?
[00:19:39] SASHA SMITH: I have not watched.
[00:19:41] ASHLEY RAY: Ooh.
[00:19:41] SASHA SMITH: I know. So, I only did the pilot episode, which is the one that’s creating…
[00:19:46] ASHLEY RAY: All the buzz. And it’s also the only episode with sex in it.
[00:19:50] SASHA SMITH: Right!
[00:19:50] ASHLEY RAY: For all of the anger this show is generating over sex, that is the only episode with sex in the whole show.
[00:19:58] SASHA SMITH: And, you know, just coming from my own, you know, background, it was one of the more tame sex scenes I’ve had to work on. You know? I really wasn’t expecting quite the, like, conversation that’s going up right now.
[00:20:12] ASHLEY RAY: It’s been trending, y’all, on Twitter for four days now. Four days. That’s a lot. And so, I’ll break down the show quickly for you. Swarm. It is about a girl who is obsessed with a musician named Ni’Jah who, yes, is based on Beyoncé. But the pop star is Ni’Jah. This girl, Dre, who lives with her sister, Marissa. They’re both huge fans. Clearly, Marissa is a little more mature, though. She has grown out of that obsession. She, like, has a job, a boyfriend. She is ready to kind of be an adult in life and, like, live with her boyfriend and have a life. And Dre is still obsessed with Ni’Jah. And a few things happen that break her and make her go on basically a killing spree where she kills a bunch of people who don’t like Ni’Jah. Before all of this happens, though–one of the very first scenes–Dre gets up out of bed, walks down a hallway, sees her… foster sister.
[00:21:10] SASHA SMITH: Foster sister. Yes, foster sister.
[00:21:12] ASHLEY RAY: And when this happened, we don’t know their relationship. Like, you’re either like, “Is she watching her roommates have sex? Who is this?” But she sees that her sister, Marissa, is having sex with her boyfriend. And she stands there, and she watches. And then the boyfriend looks at her, and, like, they clearly look at each other and have a moment. And really the scene represents that clearly, Dre has bad boundaries.
[00:21:35] SASHA SMITH: There’s maybe a weird obsession here.
[00:21:37] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah, a weird obsession with the sister and, like, wanting what she has. That’s what the scene is supposed to represent.
[00:21:45] SASHA SMITH: Exactly.
[00:21:46] ASHLEY RAY: It represents that. It does a wonderful job. In 4 seconds, you figure all this out.
[00:21:49] SASHA SMITH: Thank you.
[00:21:52] ASHLEY RAY: And then, of course, it’s 2023, so someone who watched the show filmed that ten second clip of Chloe getting the back shots and put it on Twitter. And now it is… It’s, like, the new big– Like, I cannot think of any time a TV show has caused this much debate.
[00:22:09] SASHA SMITH: Debate. I’m, like, flummoxed. So, I typically want to be behind the scenes. Even when I’m on set, I’m like, “I’m just a conduit for collaboration.” Yes, I have ideas. Yes, I’m going to bring my expertise to it. But at the same time, I’m coming in and out, right? I’m not with production the whole time, so I want to make sure that the level of trust is there for everybody as we work through our scenes. So, I just want to put that out there that I’m, like, not on here to talk about my work and be like, “Yeah, I’m just, like, incredible.”
[00:22:42] ASHLEY RAY: “I’m a big deal. Intimacy coordinators are such a big deal.”
[00:22:43] SASHA SMITH: But it was the first time I’ve ever felt compelled to be like, “Y’all, they are not actually having sex.” The reason you’re maybe, like, attaching yourselves to it so much is because the scene is voyeuristic. That’s the whole point of the scene. It is not opening the door for you to analyze it for 45 minutes.
[00:23:05] ASHLEY RAY: A guy on Twitter straight up said, “I analyzed the scene for 45 minutes.” It’s a ten second scene.
[00:23:13] SASHA SMITH: And… She’s not in focus.
[00:23:16] ASHLEY RAY: No, you can’t even see her face in it at all.
[00:23:20] SASHA SMITH: No. It’s an insight into Dre’s disturbing internal world.
[00:23:24] ASHLEY RAY: And also, a look at, okay, yeah, this boyfriend character? You probably shouldn’t like it.
[00:23:28] SASHA SMITH: Right. That’s what it’s establishing and, like, down to the position, right? Like, no one should be watching that scene, being like, “Wow, this is so hot.”
[00:23:38] ASHLEY RAY: “Oh, she’s doing something sexy.”
[00:23:40] SASHA SMITH: Right. We talked through that, like, the vocal performance is going to be performative, you know? The stroke that we’re seeing is, like, supposed to represent that he’s a bit young. He’s a bit immature. He is not the most romantic partner, right? He’s basically flexing while it’s happening.
[00:23:59] ASHLEY RAY: While it’s happening. And more when Dre starts looking!
[00:24:01] SASHA SMITH: Exactly. And, like, then he knows he has an audience. And you realize the complexities of this relationship. That is supposed to be the entire crux of the scene. It is not supposed to be like, “Oh, wow, look at Chloe Bailey. She’s out here, like, trying to break away. A breakthrough from the Disney crowd.” And it’s… No.
[00:24:24] ASHLEY RAY: I think a lot of the confusion seems to be that people think they’re really having sex.
[00:24:29] SASHA SMITH: They’re so not.
[00:24:30] ASHLEY RAY: So, can you maybe explain that in TV shows, actors aren’t really having sex. As an intimacy coordinator, could you just please…? On the record for everyone?
[00:24:42] SASHA SMITH: Yeah. Here is the full process. So, before we’re ever in the room, there’s maybe, like, three good meetings about what’s going to happen. So, we’ll have a production meeting with the director, wardrobe, producers, our first A.D. Pretty much everybody in the room that’s going to be there on the day–we’re talking through, “What story are we talking? What are we going to be seeing? What is the level of nudity that we’re asking for? What is the angle we’re going to be at?” Because that affects how I’m going to choreograph this scene.
[00:25:16] ASHLEY RAY: Yes. Choreograph. It’s choreographed, you guys.
[00:25:18] SASHA SMITH: And so, we’ll have that meeting. I then write everything up in an Excel spreadsheet. It’s so nerdy. It’s so not sexy. And I’m so sorry for so many people I’m about to demystify this for. But I put it all in my Excel spreadsheet. And then I send an email to the actors that is far too long, and I apologize every time I send because I’m like, “Hi, guys. I know more work for you, but here you are.” And I break down, “This is what is written in the script. This is what was discussed in the meeting. This is what I need to know if you are comfortable with. If you’re not comfortable with it, I will go back to production with options, and we will come up with something else that comes back to that root of the story.”
[00:25:57] ASHLEY RAY: So presumably Chloe Bailey worked with you, is aware of all of this before…
[00:26:02] SASHA SMITH: Correct. We talked on the phone.
[00:26:04] ASHLEY RAY: She knew when she took the role this was going to happen. She knew she would have your support. This isn’t like she was just like, “I want to be sexy,” and didn’t think about it.
[00:26:12] SASHA SMITH: “I’m going to just do this. Can we go? Are the cameras rolling?” No.
[00:26:16] ASHLEY RAY: Like, “I’m trying to get my ass on Twitter. Let’s go.”
[00:26:19] SASHA SMITH: So then once we, like, get to the scene–once everything is cleared–everybody feels safe before we go in there because, of course, like you can only consent to so much before you’re actually doing the thing. And I leave the door open for, like, “Oh, now I’m here and I feel awkward and just, you know, this is different.” Like, there’s always room to consent, consent, consent, right? I’m always making sure that, like, nobody’s boundaries are being crossed, that everything that we discussed is still on the table, and no one’s being taken advantage of, right? So, once we’re there on the day–just to even hammer home that they were really not having sex–they were both wearing modesty garments. Chloe has a whole top on in this scene.
[00:26:58] ASHLEY RAY: She’s wearing a shirt in the scene.
[00:27:01] SASHA SMITH: And I think even, like, maybe a bandeau at one point. And then modesty garments. So, when I say that, it’s like, “Well, I didn’t see any underwear.”
[00:27:10] ASHLEY RAY: Yes, that’s what a lot of people are saying. They were like, “I know real moans. I don’t see any underwear in there.
[00:27:15] SASHA SMITH: And also, like, if you think you hear real moans, those were not it. Even directorially, they were not supposed to be.
[00:27:21] ASHLEY RAY: You’re getting tricked by every girl who slept with you.
[00:27:25] SASHA SMITH: Maybe check in with your partners. Are they satisfied? So, they’re wearing modesty garments, which are, like, essentially, adhesive, somewhat thicker than Band-Aid material, but kind of like band aid material under linings of underwear that just don’t have a hip–something connecting the hip. So, we’re getting a clear hip line, which is giving the illusion that they’re naked. And Damson was wearing not only his own, you know, modesty garment, but also was wearing a sock. So, he had a sock which has, you know, protection. And it’s also to desensitize. And then a modesty garment over that. And she’s wearing her modesty garment. And then I have a Pilates ball.
[00:28:11] ASHLEY RAY: Okay.
[00:28:13] SASHA SMITH: I know.
[00:28:13] ASHLEY RAY: We gotta slow down on the ball. Okay. So, Chloe did an interview talking about the sex scene and, you know, how she got really comfortable and basically how everything on set was so.
[00:28:24] SASHA SMITH: Right.
[00:28:25] ASHLEY RAY: And then she mentions, “Well, there was a ball between us, so, you know…”
[00:28:29] SASHA SMITH: I actually brought it if you want to see it. It’s not the ball.
[00:28:32] ASHLEY RAY: Well, if it’s not the ball…
[00:28:37] SASHA SMITH: It’s one I bring to set because I have multiple.
[00:28:39] ASHLEY RAY: I want to see what it looks like. I’ll describe, listeners. But people lost their minds over this ball.
[00:28:44] SASHA SMITH: Lost their mind.
[00:28:45] ASHLEY RAY: There was someone who said to me, “The ball in between them soaked up all the juice.” And I was like, “I’m suing you. You need to go to jail for saying that.”
[00:28:54] SASHA SMITH: That’s so gross. And, like, really, we weren’t living in it long enough for there to be juice. Why would we ever talk about someone we don’t know like that? That’s what’s really, like, the most disturbing part.
[00:29:10] ASHLEY RAY: The part where it’s like people seem to be using this as a personal indictment of Chloe.
[00:29:15] SASHA SMITH: Yes.
[00:29:16] ASHLEY RAY: And you don’t see that for Damson at all.
[00:29:19] SASHA SMITH: There’s barely been any conversation about it.
[00:29:20] ASHLEY RAY: No, everyone instead is very like, “Why would Chloe do this, knowing it will make people perceive her negatively?” And it’s like, “Well, you’re not perceiving him negatively?”
[00:29:29] SASHA SMITH: Right. Right. And why is it inherently that anytime we see a sexual act, it’s negative? Come on, y’all. It’s 2023. We had church girl. Like, we all know, like, we’re throwing ass sometimes. It’s okay.
[00:29:47] ASHLEY RAY: It’s fine. You can still like Chloe, and she can do a sex scene. Like, she is still Chloe Bailey.
[00:29:51] SASHA SMITH: And I think it comes back to we’ve seen her grow up. And I feel sometimes people feel really entitled to people that we’ve seen grow up. Like, look at Britney dancing in her dining room now. You know, we were all there for the Free Britney movement because we’ve all seen her grow up.
[00:30:07] ASHLEY RAY: And now people are like, “Oh, but should she be free like this?”
[00:30:10] SASHA SMITH: Right. Right. We’re constantly commenting on the freedom of other artists.
[00:30:33] ASHLEY RAY: I mean, there were men on Twitter who straight up were like, “Why would Chloe Bailey do this to me? ”
[00:30:38] SASHA SMITH: They’re heartbroken.
[00:30:39] ASHLEY RAY: Like, they were like, “Why would she do this to me in film? This scene–she’s personally hurting me.”
[00:30:44] SASHA SMITH: Right. Baby, go outside.
[00:30:47] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. Let me see this ball.
[00:30:51] SASHA SMITH: So, this is the Pilates ball–or a Pilates ball.
[00:30:54] ASHLEY RAY: And listeners, it is, like, a plastic ball. Like, it’s not sopping up juices.
[00:30:59] SASHA SMITH: Not even a little bit.
[00:31:01] ASHLEY RAY: Juices are sliding on this.
[00:31:03] SASHA SMITH: Correct. So, then I can, like, inflate it as much as I want. Blow into this, it blows up. And even, like, with it just being deflated, there’s still a decent amount of absorption. So, I put this between our scene partners so that any thrusting–it does absorb that. It’s absorbing motion.
[00:31:25] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. Also, it is like a deflated ball that you can inflate, deflate. So, it’s not like you would see it.
[00:31:30] SASHA SMITH: I’m not putting a whole beach ball between people.
[00:31:33] ASHLEY RAY: I think that’s what people thought. Is that a whole tennis ball–?
[00:31:37] SASHA SMITH: “There’s no space between them.”
[00:31:39] ASHLEY RAY: And it’s, like, a half-deflated ball.
[00:31:42] SASHA SMITH: And also, like, the blocking of the scene and where the camera is–it’s stacked. If you were on the other angle, you’re gonna see the ball, you’re gonna see modesty garments, you’re going to see all of that. But I don’t know. A bunch of people are really good at their job. They know how to make it look real for you because that’s our job. Our job is so that you don’t see the strings.
[00:32:05] ASHLEY RAY: You don’t see it. And if you were watching and you were like, “I saw the modesty garment,” they didn’t do a good job.
[00:32:10] SASHA SMITH: And that’s why I don’t watch my own stuff because I’m like, “I saw the modesty garment.”
[00:32:16] ASHLEY RAY: I can promise you; enough people have slowed down this one scene, nobody saw it.
[00:32:19] SASHA SMITH: Great, great, great, great, great.
[00:32:21] ASHLEY RAY: Not only that, this one scene has taken over the whole show.
[00:32:26] SASHA SMITH: And without giving too much away, our whole point is to stay with Dre and the journey that she’s about to go on because it’s a journey. And we don’t live with those characters for us to be analyzing it the way that we are.
[00:32:42] ASHLEY RAY: I saw a whole breakdown that was like, “Well, Marissa doesn’t love herself because she let her boyfriend fuck her doggystyle and blah, blah, blah, and that’s why she couldn’t… And this is what leads to her, you know…” And I’m just like, “Oh no… We have gotten the wrong meanings from all of this.”
[00:33:01] SASHA SMITH: Also, it just comes back to, like, the reflection of the conversation–not of the show, but of us as a society. Like, why would you think that? Why would you think that?
[00:33:11] ASHLEY RAY: And you feel like people don’t know positions like yours exist? I feel like I’m in the industry; I know about intimacy coordinators. We had the intimacy coordinator from Bridgerton on the first season.
[00:33:21] SASHA SMITH: Yes! Lizzy! I love Lizzy!
[00:33:23] ASHLEY RAY: I love talking about these things and what it’s like to figure out. And I’m like, “Everybody knows about this, right?”
[00:33:29] SASHA SMITH: You would think. But I would like to be fair and give a little grace; it is a relatively new named position. I think people have been doing this work for ever and ever and ever–to take care of people on set. And I think a lot of times that job maybe felt like producers or wardrobe, you know, to ensure the safety of someone. And directors obviously also are there to take care of everyone. But the thing that’s really important about intimacy coordinators is that we are there outside of any power dynamic. Like, I have no hiring or firing power. My only job is to look at this, so I’m not letting anything slip through the cracks… hopefully. No, I’m kidding. So that’s my whole focus, right? And then also just to be, like, someone who’s on set–I’m such a goofball. So, I love going up to my actors afterwards, giving a thumbs up, and being like, “Are you okay? That was so great! You guys are doing so great!” Like, I feel like a den mom almost sometimes.
[00:34:25] ASHLEY RAY: It’s, like, the least sexy description.
[00:34:28] SASHA SMITH: Oh, my gosh. On Daisy Jones, actually, there’s a big kiss between two of the actors that, like, you know, breaks the whole thing open and then–
[00:34:37] ASHLEY RAY: We know the kiss. We know the kiss. In the parking lot?
[00:34:43] SASHA SMITH: Right. And, like, it’s gorgeous, right? And then a little bit of, like, sunlight comes through. What you’re not seeing is me doing that walk. Remember that news broadcast where the guy was home, doing his, like, Zoom broadcast, and his daughter walks in?
[00:34:55] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah.
[00:34:57] SASHA SMITH: Like, that’s how I’m walking to my actors to give them notes.
[00:35:02] ASHLEY RAY: They’re doing this big, romantic kiss, and you’re just like–
[00:35:05] SASHA SMITH: “Don’t break because I was just really goofy. Stay in it.”
[00:35:06] ASHLEY RAY: “Just howdy. Just wanted to make sure the lip place looks good. You guys are good.”
[00:35:10] SASHA SMITH: And literally I was like, “Can you guys just keep your lips apart just a little bit? That’s going to give us a little bit more chemistry in the moment. And then you can kiss. Great. Perfect. Thank you.”
[00:35:18] ASHLEY RAY: That’s kind of cool to be like, “Here’s how you make your kiss hotter.”
[00:35:21] SASHA SMITH: Oh. I have a whole, like, toolbox.
[00:35:25] ASHLEY RAY: Do you have some tips for the listeners?
[00:35:26] SASHA SMITH: I do! Okay, so if you’re, like, talking to someone… May I use you as an example?
[00:35:29] ASHLEY RAY: Yes. Please.
[00:35:30] SASHA SMITH: So, if you’re talking to someone and you’re making eye contact with them, but then you, like, look at their lips and then look back up to their eyes…
[00:35:37] ASHLEY RAY: Oh, wow!
[00:35:37] SASHA SMITH: I know. Big move. Big move.
[00:35:40] ASHLEY RAY: Okay. I am learning.
[00:35:41] SASHA SMITH: Right? And also, like, how you are, like, positioned, right? So, if you are talking straight on, it’s like, “Yeah, meeting of the minds. We’re having a conversation.” But if you open it up, “There’s, like, a whole new flirtation because I’ve opened up a part of myself that’s a bit more vulnerable.”
[00:35:57] ASHLEY RAY: Unless she’s, like, moving her head. She’s talking into the side. Neck is open.
[00:36:02] SASHA SMITH: And it’s just subtle, right? It’s those little things. But, like, when you have actors who maybe don’t have a ton of chemistry… which has happened.
[00:36:08] ASHLEY RAY: Don’t tell me Daisy and Ben don’t have chemistry.
[00:36:11] SASHA SMITH: No, no, no, no, no. Not them. Not them. That whole cast was wonderful. But, like, there are some actors who don’t have a ton of chemistry or, like, they’re just nervous.
[00:36:22] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. And, like, that’s how I would be. I don’t know how to flirt. If I had a sexy role, I’d be like, “So how do I do sexy?”
[00:36:27] SASHA SMITH: “How do I do that?” Also, being sexy is so subjective. So, these are the things that, like, communicate to your audience. Again, any time there’s a number of people in the scene, there’s always an additional viewership, which is the audience. So, we’re always accounting for that. So, if you open up like this, you’re like, “Oh yeah, they’re flirting.” But also, this is inviting the audience in to be a part of it and to, like, witness the chemistry. So that’s also another thing that’s always a part of the job.
[00:37:00] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. That’s amazing.
[00:37:01] SASHA SMITH: Right?
[00:37:02] ASHLEY RAY: So, I think a lot of the pushback Chloe’s getting is because she’s Chloe Bailey, because she’s a Black woman…
[00:37:09] SASHA SMITH: We love to politicize and police Black women’s bodies.
[00:37:14] ASHLEY RAY: And sexualize them when it’s on our terms, but not when it’s theirs. And so, in your career, have you worked with a lot of Black, female actresses who have run into this same issue? For me, I feel like this is the first time I’m seeing it with Chloe, but…
[00:37:28] SASHA SMITH: It’s the first time I’m seeing it, but the concern has always been there. And navigating that and “What can we do to help you feel you’re most comfortable, to feel ownership of what you’re doing.” So that’s where the collaboration of the story really is important. So, like, yes, we have that initial discussion with production. And I let everybody be as candid as they want. “We want to see this. We want to see that.” And then I take it back to the actors. And that’s where we’re like, “How does this sound? Oh, we don’t like that? We don’t love this? How about this? If this is your concern, would this position maybe feel more empowering, or would wearing this garment help you to feel more empowered while we tell this part of the story? Does that work? Great? Cool. I’m going to take it back to production, get the A-OK. We’ll go from there.” So, for the most part, we are always engaging everybody’s– I don’t want to say fears–but I want that to be voiced before we choreograph anything because I’m not a mind reader. I do have the specialty of I can tell when someone’s nervous. If they’re not making eye contact or they’re holding their breath or their shoulders are up to their… You know, all of these non-verbal signs of, like, “Oh, I’m not feeling great about this.” But I’m trying to alleviate those before anybody comes into the room. But it is a natural thing, I think, for us as Black women to have that fear initially before we go in. So, it’s always something I at least like to discuss, you know, before there’s any choreography.
[00:39:02] ASHLEY RAY: How do you feel about the… Because now it’s turning into the accusation of, like, she only did this scene because Black women have to do sex scenes, that’s the only way that Hollywood will take you seriously, and the only way that Halle Berry got her Oscar.
[00:39:18] SASHA SMITH: “White passing Halle Berry.”
[00:39:21] ASHLEY RAY: This is why I’m like, “Twitter is so dumb.”
[00:39:23] SASHA SMITH: It’s truly a little unhinged.
[00:39:24] ASHLEY RAY: But people are truly like, “Every black actress must go through the bloodletting ceremony of doing a sexual thing by the Illuminati. And then they get famous.” And it’s like, “I think they just pick a script.”
[00:39:36] SASHA SMITH: Right. And also, like, sex is a part of our lives. I always say, like, the subtext of what we’re not saying lives in our bodies. So, I’m about to get really nerdy for a second, but…
[00:39:51] ASHLEY RAY: This is where you do it.
[00:39:53] SASHA SMITH: So, like, in musical theater, which I maybe studied in college and grew up doing this.
[00:39:59] ASHLEY RAY: Amazing.
[00:40:00] SASHA SMITH: It’s a fun little world. There’s this quote that “Once you’re so overcome with emotion and you can no longer speak, you begin to sing. And when you’re transcending that emotion, you begin to dance.” And I feel like the same thing is applied to sex, where this is, you know, an emotional expression. The people in the scene still have wants–still have desires–that they maybe can’t communicate verbally. Or they’re trying to dominate someone in some way.
[00:40:35] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. It’s just part of the artist’s toolkit. I saw people asking after Swarm, “Why do we even need to have these sex scenes? What’s the difference between an explicit and implied sex scene?” And to me, it’s like, “Would you ask an artist why they use the color red?”
[00:40:52] SASHA SMITH: Exactly.
[00:40:53] ASHLEY RAY: Because it’s for the story.
[00:40:55] SASHA SMITH: It’s for the story. Yeah. And if you can’t grasp the nuance of it, then, like, that goes back to us being devoid of media literacy right now. Yeah, like, I get it. You know, when I was younger, sex scenes did make me really uncomfortable and my move was like, “I’m just going to go to the bathroom.” You know, and then I would come back. But I think as you get older–whatever your own personal sexuality is–it’s nice to see that reflected because that’s what artistry is, right? We’re reflecting the world that we live in back to one another so that we can feel more human–so that we can feel more connected. And that is sexuality. That is sex. It’s not just humans. Listen, that’s how we all got here. Every single thing reproduces every single thing. Not everything, but most things. To take that out of the story–that’s supposed to be innately human… It isn’t authentic.
[00:41:59] ASHLEY RAY: It isn’t authentic. And I think there is obviously a lot of growing concern because we’re more aware of consent and manipulation and how that all works. You know, it’s easy to look back in the industry and look at stories of actresses who had nightmare experiences and they were taken advantage of. But now we’re in this place where positions like yours exist, where there’s never been maybe a safer time for an actress to do a sex scene. But that part of the conversation doesn’t come into play for people.
[00:42:28] SASHA SMITH: Right. I was going to say, like, I think there was a time where there was a little bit of a stigma that was like, “If you want to be taken seriously as an actor…” And it wasn’t necessarily just rooted into race, it was just women, right? If you want to be taken seriously as an actor, you have to show your boobs at some time. You know, like that was–I think ’80s–really big.
[00:42:48] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah, in the ’80s, ’90, it was, like, Basic Instinct. You had to do your nude moment to be taken seriously.
[00:42:55] SASHA SMITH: But now, I also feel like we can communicate so much with sex scenes where, like, it really can be explicit or not. I do think personally the less that we see… And I don’t mean that in terms of bodies. I mean what we see of the action. If we get hints of things–that is sometimes more compelling than a fully explicit scene. But then we have shows like Euphoria, you know, where we are seeing something explicit, and it does really inform the world of these people and these children. Not children. These teens? That is important to the story.
[00:43:33] ASHLEY RAY: The story. Yeah. And I think Euphoria is one of those shows that has people upset because they’re like, “Well, they’re high schoolers. Why does there have to be so much nudity?” You hear the stories of Sydney Sweeney being like, “Well, they wanted more, and I had to be like, ‘There’s no reason for me to be topless in the scene.’” And to me it’s like, “Well, yeah, but at the end of the day, they listened to Sydney.” They’re listening to these female actresses. Whereas, 20 years ago, they would have been like, “Do the scene.”
[00:43:59] SASHA SMITH: And the agency is there. There are so many conversations before people step on set. I mean, and it happens. But there are enough people here now trying to mitigate any kind of, you know, predatory behavior or people taking advantage of one another. And we also live in a different age where, like, everything is documented. The whole Twitter thread, right? Twitter blowing up about this. So, there is more time–more space–for conversation. So, I think everyone is kind of on their best behavior right now because you never know whose hands it’s going to fall into. Again, I’m flummoxed.
[00:44:37] ASHLEY RAY: Watching Twitter just be like, “No, this has to be real sex. Why would Chloe Bailey have real sex in an Amazon Prime show?” They also keep calling it a “movie,” and I’m just like, “What?”
[00:44:47] SASHA SMITH: I’m like, “No, you just watched it for a long time.”
[00:44:51] ASHLEY RAY: You just watched it because it all came out at once, but it’s not.
[00:44:53] SASHA SMITH: And there are episodes.
[00:44:54] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah, I do kind of wish they had done a weekly release just because I think it is a show that is so dense and has so much to say, that you got to slow down and explain things to people.
[00:45:07] SASHA SMITH: Sit with it for a week, and be like, “Wow, wow.”
[00:45:09] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. Because they’re getting in the first three minutes, and they’re already like, “Is the sex real?” Like, we gotta slow down.
[00:45:15] SASHA SMITH: Let’s take it back. Beat by beat.
[00:45:20] ASHLEY RAY: Take it episode by episode. And let’s slow down. We’ll break it down. And we’re all going to figure it out together.
[00:45:23] SASHA SMITH: Exactly.
[00:45:24] ASHLEY RAY: But with this conversation, now we can all say… In the first episode of Swarm, Chloe Bailey is not having sex for real.
[00:45:32] SASHA SMITH: She’s not having sex for real. Also, we see a penis under a bowl of cherries.
[00:45:39] ASHLEY RAY: Yes. This is the other scene that is taking Twitter by storm. Rory Culkin’s limp penis next to a glass bowl of strawberries…
[00:45:47] SASHA SMITH: Body double.
[00:45:52] ASHLEY RAY: Body double? This is the most disappointing update we’ve ever had on the show. Wow. Wow. I was really like, “The Culkins–they have no fear.”
[00:46:05] SASHA SMITH: Well, truly they don’t. And Rory was so wonderful. But also, we were like, “Yeah, let’s use a body double just to feel safe.”
[00:46:13] ASHLEY RAY: Fair enough.
[00:46:15] SASHA SMITH: And this body double was so funny. Also, so lovely.
[00:46:20] ASHLEY RAY: I mean, the way that the… Whoever did it got it perfect. The way they, like, smooshed the penis, the placement of the ball, everything about it is perfect.
[00:46:29] SASHA SMITH: I mean, that was Donald giving the direction of, like, where everything should be placed. And we were, like, watching it from the monitor. He was so lovely, so accommodating. And so, he’s just, you know, repositioning the bowl so that we can just get this one insert shot, right?
[00:46:49] ASHLEY RAY: Which is one of the funniest in the show.
[00:46:51] SASHA SMITH: And that’s why I’m like, “Oh. Your mind is really good. That’s really funny.”
[00:46:55] ASHLEY RAY: How they got the penis to kind of look like a strawberry. The white and red of the penis matched the white and red of the strawberries. I was like, “This is so artistic.”
[00:47:04] SASHA SMITH: It is. And again, it’s art.
[00:47:07] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. If there’s one scene to study for 45 minutes, it’s probably Rory Culkin’s penis. The body double’s.
[00:47:13] SASHA SMITH: The body double’s. The body double’s.
[00:47:16] ASHLEY RAY: That’s going to hurt a lot of hearts on Twitter when that comes out.
[00:47:19] SASHA SMITH: Sorry. I feel like I’m really just kicking down the door for a lot of stuff.
[00:47:24] ASHLEY RAY: We’re going to wrap up here a bit. But I think the one question people probably want to know is: How do you become an intimacy coordinator? How did you get into this?
[00:47:31] SASHA SMITH: So, I was kind of at the forefront of this. So, I didn’t have the luxury of like, now you can pay thousands of dollars and take a certification and get your certificate. So that’s not to demean that at all. And I’m really excited that there is a pathway to this as a career. But I started as an actor and a fight choreographer is the short of it, right? I grew up with a mom who was a family advocate, so advocacy was always a part of my upbringing. I also was in this… It was called Hope Troop, which was this high school theater group where it was student-led, student-written productions about child abuse.
[00:48:13] ASHLEY RAY: Wow.
[00:48:14] SASHA SMITH: Yeah, we would go to different high schools and perform our pieces, which were all based on actual case studies. We would have people come in and talk to us. And then afterwards we would stick around and have peer-to-peer discussions. If anybody was… If something came up for them. So, it’s been a long kind of meandering road. I also did dance. I went to a college that was really big on body movement.
[00:48:37] ASHLEY RAY: Which college?
[00:48:38] SASHA SMITH: Columbia College.
[00:48:44] ASHLEY RAY: So many of my high school friends went there. I got drunk in so many of those dorms.
[00:48:45] SASHA SMITH: Oh my gosh. Yes. So, I started to kind of cobble all of that together as a fight choreographer because I was being brought on to a lot of shows that had either, like, a moment of sexual violence or there was, like, violence juxtaposed to something sexual in nature. And in 2015 I want to say, I did a show called Octagon, which Kiki Layne was in. And it was a little jackalope storefront show. Not little. It was a very big jackalope storefront show. But it dealt with BDSM. And that’s when I, like, first took on the title of intimacy director. And I was noticing that, like, as I was choreographing fights or any sort of scene that had sex in it, I was watching my actors, like, you know, hold a lot of anxiety. So, I’m like, “We gotta break that down a little bit. We gotta talk through this a little bit more rather than just throwing them, you know, to the wolves.” And I think before that it was really just kind of like, “Figure it out yourself.” Yeah.
[00:49:54] ASHLEY RAY: Which, you know, like you said, you started as a fight choreographer. And people would never believe, “Oh, that fight scene just happened organically.”
[00:50:01] SASHA SMITH: Right. “Oh. They’re just breaking out into a rumble.”
[00:50:06] ASHLEY RAY: Of course, sex scenes are going to require that same level of care.
[00:50:10] SASHA SMITH: Exactly. Exactly. So that was my, like, somewhat short version of how I got into it. But then, yeah, the pandemic hit. And I was still an actor up until predominantly 2020. And then the pandemic hit. And then I kind of fully pivoted to doing this. And now we’re here.
[00:50:29] ASHLEY RAY: And now you’re here killing it on two huge shows. Daisy Jones and The Six. And Swarm. Go watch them both. Appreciate the amazing work because everybody’s talking about the sex scene for a reason. You did so well that people straight up just thought it was porn. Thank you so much for joining me today. This has been so great. And listeners, please share this with anyone you see on Twitter who is just so confused–doesn’t understand the ball.
[00:51:00] SASHA SMITH: Right.
[00:51:00] ASHLEY RAY: And if you tell me one more time the ball soaked up the juices, I am going to get you arrested. I will get you arrested. Thank you so much for joining us today. Listeners, let me give you some quick homework before we wrap things up here. Like I said, go watch Daisy Jones. Go watch Swarm. This weekend finally, we’re going to have Yellowjackets and Succession. So actually, just go watch the other seasons of Yellowjackets and Succession. Don’t watch anything else this week, but that’s. Okay, yes, also we got new Bob’s Burgers if you want to check that out last week. Tonight, just go get caught up on Succession and Yellowjackets so that we are ready for some real discussion next weekend. That’s all I got for you. Thanks so much for listening. We’ll be back next week with another episode. TV, I Say with Ashley Ray is an Earwolf production made by me, Ashley Ray-Harris. It’s engineered by Abby Aguilar and produced by Amelia Chappelow. And our original theme song is by RaFia. It means so much to me if you go rate, review, subscribe. Follow TV, I Say. Let us know what you think and tell your friends. Share with your Golden Girls. Tell your Boys. If you love my TV recommendations, let everyone you know know. For special TV Club members, join my Patreon. And you can also find my full archive of ad free episodes of TV, I Say over on Stitcher Premium. Use Promo code “tvisay”–all one word–for a one-month free trial at stitcher.com/premium.
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