Popular media—films, television shows, and books—are common sources of sexual fantasy inspiration. In fact, in the study of 4,175 Americans’ sexual fantasies I conducted for my book Tell Me What You Want, I asked people where they think their favorite fantasy of all time comes from, and 1 in 7 participants said it stemmed directly from something they saw or read about in the media.
Incidentally, a roughly similar number said that their favorite fantasy stemmed from something they saw in porn. Porn and media were the two most commonly identified fantasy sources; however, it’s also worth noting that many people had no idea where their fantasies came from.
As part of this survey, I asked participants about hundreds of different people, places, and things they might have ever fantasized about, and that included whether they have ever fantasized about recreating a sex scene from a movie. If they had done so, they were also asked which film(s) served as their inspiration. What I found was that 35% of adults said this was something they had indeed fantasized about at least once, with 8% (about 1 in 12) saying this is something they fantasize about frequently.
Across genders and sexualities, it was consistently about one-third who reported having had fantasies like this before—however, heterosexual women were the most likely to report fantasizing about recreating movie scenes often, whereas gay and bisexual men were the least likely (10% vs. 5%, respectively). This probably reflects, in part, the fact that man-on-man sex scenes are much rarer in films, which means that sexual minority men might be less likely to encounter highly arousing content that they would be interested in recreating.
So which movies and scenes do people fantasize about most often? Below is a list of the 10 most-commonly mentioned films, starting with the most popular.
1.) The Notebook – While several different scenes were mentioned from this movie, the single most common was the iconic scene of Noah and Allie kissing in the rain.
2.) Spiderman 1 – There was only one scene mentioned from this movie: the upside-down kiss between Spider Man and Mary Jane. This specific scene was actually mentioned more often than any scene in any other film. One participant who said she actually tried to recreate this in real life was disappointed: “It seemed like it would be a really interesting sensation. Then I tried it and it felt like regular rightside-up making out.”
3.) 9½ Weeks – This was another film where several different scenes were mentioned, in fact, some folks said they wanted to recreate the entire movie! However, the most commonly mentioned scenes involved the ones where the main characters have steamy sex in a public stairwell as it rains on them, as well as the scene where John erotically feeds Elizabeth a bunch of different foods in front of the refrigerator, including cherries, strawberries, Jell-O, and milk.
4.) Secretary – Most people who talked about this movie mentioned the scenes involving bondage, especially the one where Edward ties Lee to a tree and they proceed to have sex (and consummate their marriage).
5.) Titanic – If you’ve watched this film before, the relevant scenes shouldn’t be too hard for you to guess because there’s not a lot of erotic content here. The only scenes people really mentioned were the ones where Jack draws Rose in the nude, as well as the steamy car sex scene.
6.) Fifty Shades of Grey – Most people who mentioned this film didn’t talk about specific scenes, except for the elevator sex scene, which was mentioned a couple of times. More often, people simply said any scene from this movie involving bondage is one they’d like to recreate.
7.) Cruel Intentions – The most commonly mentioned scene from this movie, by far, was the girl-on-girl kiss between Kathryn and Cecile.
8.) Blue is the Warmest Color – Although there are a few sex scenes in this film, most people specifically mentioned the extended, seven-minute lesbian sex scene between Adele and Lea.
9.) Mr. and Mrs. Smith – The most commonly mentioned scene from this film was the one where John and Jane—immediately after trying to kill each other—proceed to have rough, passionate sex all over the house they’ve just destroyed.
10.) Wild Things – The most frequently mentioned scene from this movie was the threesome between Sam, Suzie, and Kelly.
Far more films were mentioned beyond the ten listed above, of course. Among the many runners-up to this list were: Dirty Dancing, Top Gun, Brokeback Mountain, Eyes Wide Shut, Unfaithful, Shakespeare in Love, Terminator, and Pretty Woman.
Looking across all of the responses, it seems clear that the scenes people tend to be most drawn to recreating are those that are highly passionate and romantic, those that involve themes of rough sex and BDSM, and those that involve erotic encounters between women—all of which tend to be pretty common sexual fantasies to begin with.
Are you surprised by any entries on this list? Also, have you ever fantasized about recreating a famous movie scene in the bedroom (or somewhere else)? Tell us about it in the comments below.
Learn more about the science of sexual fantasies in Tell Me What You Want!
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 Gore-Gorszewska, G. (2020). “What Do You Mean by Sex?” A Qualitative Analysis of Traditional versus Evolved Meanings of Sexual Activity among Older Women and Men. The Journal of Sex Research.
Image Source: Photo by René Ranisch on Unsplash
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