Universal Pictures A few months ago, Comedy Central released a video depicting the fake Foley art of the make-out scenes from The Bachelor: We talked to several Foley artists about how they create the sounds behind sex scenes. The explanations are at once more pedestrian and more interesting than you might imagine.
Or, in the context of sex scenes: The basic Foley elements of most sex scenes are the same: A Foley artist will, for example, rub their hands against their arms for skin-to-skin contact between two people. A creaky bed or sofa is a must — the best way to create the squeaks needed, explains Foley artist Alyson Dee Moore, is to sit on the bed and press down with your hands.
Centuries of teenagers practicing their make-out skills have it right: Where the art in Foley art comes in is how these basic sounds are altered and assembled to convey the emotion and character dynamics in a sex scene. They love each other. So how do you communicate that with Foley? You have to have someone like me sit there and perform it. In the case of this The Light Between Oceans scene, Fang sat in a room with a shotgun mic pointed at her — the distance of the mic generally depends on framing of the scene itself — and rubbed her hands against her arms to provide the sounds of the characters touching each other.
It needed to be full of texture and life and love, but at the same time [have] a certain forcefulness … There needs to be a firmness in the hand, but you still need to actually create a sound. As Moore puts it: An ongoing question that Foley artists ask themselves when scoring sex scenes: How much is too much?
They never play it. Because you want a mouthy sound, but you still want it to have this gentleness and this sweetness. But certain sounds, explains Koyama, are actually emphasized as a way to increase the intimacy level and bring the viewers into the emotional mind-set of the characters. Like, for example, the sound of flesh rubbing on flesh.
Moore cites a sex-adjacent scene from Californication wherein a character sticks his hand inside a Fleshlight. Yes, the soft sheepskin you use to dry your car. The homoerotic mud-wrestling scene in the hazing drama Goat: Moore puts is succinctly: The bottle scene utilized various layered sounds — mainly, Moore manipulating a bottle in her hands. Again, it goes back to using sound to tell a story and create a mood.
But really, the bottle scene, you do have to make that cringeworthy. If we can communicate that, then we win.