Cinema Sutra: Pretty Woman

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The movie: In this famously sappy — but at times quite moving — romance, Julia Roberts plays the least-convincing prostitute in cinematic history (she looks like a Yale student/runway model dressed up for Halloween). Small surprise then, that wealthy businessman Richard Gere buys her some decent threads, then falls for her. Treacle, yes, but done rather well.

The scene: Gere is sleeping when the radiant Roberts comes from the bathroom in a nightie and wakes him up with just the right amount of delicacy. He proceeds to show his appreciation in the best manner possible.

What you need:
• a lover deep in slumber

The mechanics: Just this morning I went to wake my beloved. She was lying on her side, back to me, with ten minutes to go before her alarm went off. I gently slid my hand down her arm, careful not to wake her — yet upon my softer-than-dew touch, she recoiled as if I’d shocked her with a car battery.

Obviously, that’s not what you’re looking for. The sad fact is, you never really know when someone is deep in REM and whether your gentle touches will be welcome — or cause them to think that a burglar’s in the house and getting entirely too friendly. That said, here are a few tips for bringing your lover out of Morpheus’ arms and into your own:

Give the tiniest touch-test to see their unconscious response. The lightest of contact — like Julia Robert’s little kissed-finger-to-the-lips — will often have an effect on the sleeper, and their reaction can let you know whether it’s a green, yellow, or red light. If he or she moans pleasurably in response, that’s obviously good; if your bedmate jumps back in terror (like my sweetie did this morning), it’s clearly not the right time.

• Start slowly and let things build as the other person starts to wake up. You’re obviously the one who’s awake, and they’re not, so don’t do so much until the other person starts to get their bearings. Waking up can be disorienting — and clearly much more so if someone is trying to make out with you.

Get advance permission before you initiate sex with a sleeping person. This one is vital. In my experience, there are women who like to be woken up being made love to, but there are others that would think it a kind of rape — and obviously you’d better know in advance! Make sure you talk about it before you even consider doing it.

Lesson we learn: Assuming that the timing’s right, waking up to a lover’s touch can be excellent. But if you try and are rebuffed, remember that your partner is either still asleep or at least very tired. They’re not at their best and might not be ready for affection — or any interaction at all — before their morning coffee. (I have an ex who needed to smoke two cigarettes before you could even talk to her.) And above all, ask first if your lover likes to be awakened or not — and how. Once you know what he or she likes, you’ll really be able to start their day right.

Click here to read — and learn — more in Nerve’s Hollywood Sex Scene Database.