In his three appearances on screen in “Stranger by the Lake,” director Alain Guiraudie is seen lying balls-out naked on the beach. He displays his nudity casually, not unlike his film’s other characters. Here, art was imitating life. Guiraudie was familiar with the cruising spot and nude beaches depicted in “Stranger by the Lake.”
Some viewers might be surprised to see a director daring to bare all of himself for his art, but while filmmakers are often thought of as voyeurs, Guiraudie is not the only one who is an exhibitionist as well. Several directors have appeared nude in their own films, at times explaining they don’t want to ask their actors to do anything they would not do themselves.
Other times, it seems more a a matter of simply being comfortable in their own skin.
Filmmakers talk about their decision to strip down in their own work
Both factors appear to be at play in the case of out gay filmmaker Todd Verow, who has appeared in the altogether in a number of the films he’s written, directed, and acted in, including “Anonymous,” “Deleted Scenes,” and “Leave Blank.”
“I don’t think any of the nudity in any of my films is gratuitous,” he said in a recent phone interview. “It serves some kind of purpose. When I do nudity, it’s not because I want to be naked. The film requires nudity. If I’m playing a part, I need to do it.”
In his 2013 feature “Tumbledown,” he tops in an extended and provocative sex sequence.
“I enjoy doing nudity and the process of doing it,” Verow continued. “People are so uptight about it, but there is something so liberating about being naked for people to see it and do what they want with it. I find it liberating to be naked and having sex on camera. Once you’ve done it a few times, it’s no big deal.”
Sean Paul Lockhart, aka adult film star Brent Corrigan, appeared frontally nude in “Truth” out earlier this month. He made his directorial debut last year with the engaging dramatic thriller, “Triple Crossed.” The film features several penises in a shower sequence. The actor and filmmaker briefly exposed his cock during a sex scene in the film.
“I showed my dick because, like all of the nudity I do in my mainstream films, it was motivated by real-life instances in the screenplay — after a shower, during a love scene, or jumping out of bed in the morning,” Lockhart explained via a text message. “Mostly, I’m just not afraid of my body and all corners of it. I also have a great fear that my fans may come to feel that I’ve developed a ‘holier than thou’ attitude about my non-adult media. Showing a bit of skin here and there is somewhat of a nod to the fact that I have nothing to hide.”
Appearing nude in one’s own film is not limited to gay filmmakers. Eric Schaeffer, the straight writer and director of “Boy Meets Girl” — a coming-of-age love triangle about a young trans girl forthcoming later this year — showed his penis several times in his 1997 feature “Fall.” In this intense romantic drama, which he wrote, directed, produced, and starred in, his character, Michael Shiver, was even pegged by his female co-star (Amanda de Cadenet).
“I was exploring sexuality that went beyond the traditional boundaries for the heterosexual male,” he explained in a Skype interview. “I thought it was super hot to have a really sexy woman control my character by taking him with a strap-on.”
About his decision to appear in full frontal nudity, he said, “Women's bodies are splashed across the screen in such abundance but God forbid we catch even a glimpse of the evil penis! You can count on one hand the dicks you've seen in mainstream cinema. So I do feel, when it serves the story and is shot artistically, that showing the dick is very important to breaking down the negative ideas American society has around it and the men who have them and would show them.”
Another straight director and actor, Jean-Marc Barr, who has long been a gay icon, has appeared in full frontal in several films (hopefully, the cock clip in his forthcoming “Nymphomaniac” will make the cut in the U.S. release), but also held back on doing so on one occasion. He deliberately kept it in his pants for “Too Much Flesh,” a film he co-directed with Pascal Arnold in 2000 about a man (Barr) whose wife (Rosanna Arquette) thinks his organ is too large and therefore is deformed. Barr, who walks naked through a cornfield, masturbates, and has several erotic encounters in the film deliberately denied viewers a cock shot.
“I couldn’t defend the character!,” he said in an interview, before explaining that it would defeat the film’s purpose to showcase his penis. Viewers were better served, he said, by simply imagining it.