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The Scarlet Letters: Not Ready For My Closeup—To Film or Not to Film?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


In this week’s column, we address the oft-discussed issue of dating friends’ exes, and respond to a reader who loves the idea of filming herself in the act, but isn’t sure she’s ready to see the results. Have a question? Send it to us at [email protected].

The Ex Factor

Dear Scarlets,

My friends Violet and Tom got divorced last year. We met as neighbors two years ago and did all sorts of things together -- dance, swim, barbecue, run, walk the dog. Sometimes it was all three of us, sometimes just one of them and me. I consider both of them friends. Apparently the decision to separate was mutual and the whole thing has been amicable.

Violet and I went out a few times in the past year but Tom and I have maintained a better relationship. Last week I realized how cute he is. He used to be "Violet's husband" to me, but now he is my number one crush, and I think he feels the same. Meanwhile, Violet is dating Marjorie.

Would it be weird for me to pursue a romantic relationship with my friend Tom because he used to be married to Violet, who also is my friend?

Your pal,

Just Asking

Dear Just Asking,

Before we can answer your question we have to ask you one: How good are you with awkward?

There is nothing inherently wrong with dating a friend’s ex after a reasonable period of time. It’s been a year, Violet has moved on to adventures with Marjorie, and your relationship with Tom has evolved. Picking up something that Violet discarded isn’t any meaner than wearing one of her hand-me-down shirts.

Which is not to say that it’s easy OR as trivial as finding treasure in her cast-off clothes. We all have a tendency to think that something that’s been ours is ours forever. Remember being five? And you didn’t want to play with that stupid [un-fun toy from childless Aunt Eunice] until your friend Chris came over and wanted it and then it was suddenly your favorite? We still do that, but now we’re not five -- we’re adults and we have to act like it or the world would quickly deteriorate into a giant, unsupervised, cookie-fueled kindergarten chaos. Our point being, if everyone acts like grown-ups (with you leading the way) it will be ok.

However, it will be weird. If you have a low tolerance for the aforementioned awkward, you may want to run away from this situation while you still can. If you choose to go ahead, know that you will be judged by some of your friends, including Violet.

Disapprobation from one’s peers can be unpleasant -- but it won’t kill you. To handle it with grace, keep your head and don’t get caught up in the drama. There will be enough of it without you adding to the tempest in your social teacup.

Time will pass and everyone will move on to more interesting turmoil. Until then, be prepared for some uncomfortable moments. Also know that if your relationship with Tom is a miserable failure there will be some schadenfreude and told-you-so.

We can stand it if you can.

With love and luck,

The Scarlets

Not Ready For My Closeup

Dear Scarlets,

I want to make a sex tape. I like porn and the idea of seeing myself with my partner is exciting. I like the way I look and I like to have sex. I like everything about this idea but I have a fear: what if I discover I look hideous doing something I always liked? I mean, what if I find out I don't look sexy AT ALL when I'm doing something I always thought was hot? Would that ruin it for me forever? Or do you think that's impossible? Is this a valid concern or am I being nervous and stupid?


Not Ready for My Closeup

Dear Not Ready,

You’re not being stupid at all.

One of modern life’s greatest gifts is strategically-placed draping.

Certainly, clothes serve many purposes: protection from the elements, personal expression, keeping errant bodily fluids off the furniture. But the best thing clothes do for us is support our self-delusion about our bodies.

Did I get a little belly after Christmas?

This drape-y sweater thinks not.

So your fear about going drape-free on video isn’t the least bit unwarranted, especially if you’ve been watching porn. Women’s bodies in professional porn are ridiculous and largely unattainable, so we’re going to assume you don’t have a body like that. If you do, however (or you don’t, and don’t care), film away. No need to read further.

If you don’t have what you consider a pornstar body and this concerns you (which it sounds like it does, but only slightly), consider a couple steps before jumping in.

1. Film yourself alone and think about the angles. If you’re going to be watching this later for your own pleasure, you’re going to want to look good for both yourself and your partner, so do what you’d do for any photograph: pay attention to lighting and know your good side(s). Show yourself some ass. Oh, do you like that, me? How ‘bout some boobage? Do you lik...oh, see? Bad angle. Somehow you have eight chins now, when you know you only have two. CAMERA SHIFT. And you’re back in business. Simulate acts you know you’ll be engaging in. Find the positions in which you can perform those acts while still loving yourself (including the act of “loving yourself”). Figure out what works best before you start filming for real, and you’ll thank yourself later.

2. Before you film for real, do all the things that make you feel beautiful. That could mean shaving all the pertinent parts and putting on makeup, or styling your leg hair just so—it’s whatever makes YOU feel beautiful to YOU. This confidence will shine through on camera.

3. Remember that you don’t have to be naked for this. If you’re feeling particularly insecure about a certain body part, wear something that covers it. A teddy is a hella sexy thing, and anyone who’s seen a Marilyn Monroe movie or Ruth Bader Ginsberg on the bench knows that when your sexuality is powerful enough, it will find a way to come through even the thickest of...robes.

4. Once you start filming, think about the things you know get you the hottest, and do those. For many just the act of filming is enough to heighten the experience.

5. Remember that film is editable. There are moments in every film that are awkward or unusable. A good filmmaker edits those out. (Adam Sandler doesn’t. We’ll never know why.) Make sure your final cut contains only scenes that will get you off.

You’ve said you like the way you look, so we’re fairly confident in telling you to move forward on this. But if you find yourself cringing at any point while watching yourself, please remember that you’ve been trained your entire life to accept unrealistic expectations for your body, so it might take a little time to un-train your brain. Also, watch your partner in the video. Is there a moment when they weren’t looking their sexiest? Did you still want to f*ck their brains out at that point? Yeah, you probably did. Sex isn’t always pretty.

And one last thing—don’t give the video to anyone else, ever, unless you’re ready to see it on the internet. We know you probably adore your partner, but lovers turn into exes all the time, and some of them are miscreant douchebags with an axe to grind.

All that being said...enjoy your star turn! We look forward to seeing you on the red carpet. (The one on the floor of your living room? It’s always had the best lighting.)


The Scarlets

You’ve just read The Scarlet Letters, a sex and relationship column written by two redheads on a mission to eradicate slut shaming, uninspired oral sex, and the myth of “normal.” Send your sex and relationship questions to [email protected]. (Want your email address anonymized? Try Anonymouse here, or any number of other email anonymizers on the webernets!)

The Scarlets:

Allison Picard had a long career in publishing before she got antsy and divorced, and then one in event planning before she got tired of working. Now that she's retired she can turn all her attention to sorting out your sex life. Other issues, proposals, invitations? Write to [email protected].

Courtenay Hameister is the Head Writer and Co-Producer of Live Wire Radio, a syndicated radio variety show distributed by Public Radio International. She is currently working on a book that will be released through Audible.com in 2015. Follow Courtenay on Twitter at @wisenheimer.


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