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Ten top celluloid sex scenes: these steamy moments leave us breathless every time we pop in the video. (film).

No one talks about it much, but one of the benefits of having movies that tell gay and lesbian stories is having movies that show gay and lesbian sex. And we're not talking about porn or those "lesbian" movies that turn up late at night on cable. We're talking about The Hunger, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Personal Best, Beautiful Thing, Desert Hearts, Women in Love, Lilies. In honor of the Sex Issue, we've picked out 10 scenes from less iconic gay flicks that for us represent queer cinema at its goose-bumpiest.

A. Better Than Chocolate, directed by Anne Wheeler. Starring the eye-catching Christina Cox as a buff, butch young artist, this Canadian indie comes alive when Cox and spunky redhead Karyn Dwyer paint each other's naked bodies and roll around on big sheets of paper to make love banners.

B. Bound, directed by the Wachowski brothers. Before they went on to make a little picture called The Matrix, the Wachowskis cut their teeth on this nice 'n' dirty lesbi-gangster tale. Slinky ex-con Corky (Gina Gershon) steals mob moll Violet (Jennifer Tilly) away from Violet's money-laundering boyfriend. All the sex is great, but we really love the moment when femmy Violet invites Corky to feel under her skirt to prove that she's really turned on by women.

C. Edge of Seventeen, directed by David Moreton. When Eric (Chris Stafford), a teen taking his baby steps out of the closet, gets his first, uh, "back there" attention from a guy he meets in a gay bar, his look of panic and pleasure speaks volumes about coming-of-age sex. While the whole movie is spot-on about self-discovery, this scene is particularly exhilarating in capturing an awkward libido breaking free of its bonds.

D. The Fourth Man, directed by Paul Verhoeven. In Verhoeven's original take on Basic Instinct, set in Holland, the killer is still a woman, but the bisexual is a guy named Gerard (Jeroen Krabbe), who becomes obsessed with the temptress's hunky young boyfriend, Herman--(Thom Hoffman). In an overheated hallucination, Gerard sees Herman--sweaty and nearly naked--hanging above him on a church crucifix, and he slowly reaches up and up ... It gives new meaning to the phrase blessed event.

E. Go Fish, directed by Rose Troche. This grungy but smart 1994 black-and-white classic flawlessly captures a moment in lesbian society. It also kicked off the career of star and cowriter Guinevere Turner as Max, the unattainable pretty girl who accepts shy Ely (V.S. Brodie) in the world's sexiest scene to feature a pair of nail clippers.

F. Henry & June, directed by Philip Kaufman. Love goes wild in 1931 literary Paris as Anais Nin (Maria de Madeiros) cheats on her rich husband (Richard E. Grant) with sexy bald dude Henry Miller (Fred Ward), who's pining for his bombshell wife, June (Uma Thurman), who eventually gets Anais in the sack after spiriting her off to a lesbian bar. Thurman has never been sexier, and that's saying something.

G. The Living End, directed by Gregg Araki. A decade or so before Michelangelo Signorile and Andrew Sullivan had a very public debate about unsafe sex between HIV-positive men came the steamy (in more ways than one) condomless shower scene in this gritty, groundbreaking Godardian love story. Mike Dytri and Craig Gilmore, as refusing-to-be-doomed lovers, are passionate and bitter in a way that early-'90s audiences had never seen before.

H. Maurice, directed by James Ivory. Merchant-Ivory are famed for their stiff-upper-lit adaptations, but they perfectly capture the class clash of E.M. Forster's posthumously published novel about a young aristo learning to embrace his queerness. The film's climax occurs when servant Scudder (the delectable Rupert Graves) climbs both a literal and figurative wall into the bed of high-born Maurice (James Wilby) for a scorching Edwardian interlude.

I. My Beautiful Laundrette, directed by Stephen Frears. When punk Daniel Day-Lewis secretly licks the neck of Pakistani Gordon Warnecke in full view of Day-Lewis's racist gang of thugs, the moment crystallizes everything the film says about race and sexuality in Thatcher's England. Frears continued to mine public sex for erotic jolts in his subsequent Prick Up Your Ears.

J. When Night Is Falling, written and directed by Patricia Rozema. In this 1995 coming-out story, uptight missionary-to-be Camille (Pascale Bussieres) runs away with the circus--specifically, sexy circus performer Petra (Rachael Crawford). Their big love scene takes place in the shadows of a circus tent--and intercuts the women's perfectly matched naked bodies with a pair of female trapeze artists performing together in midair. This may be what they mean by the greatest show on earth.
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Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Date:Aug 20, 2002
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