Jonas Chernick's Sexual Adventure
By: Jesse Skinner
Toro Magazine; April 17, 2013
For everyday people sex can be a moderate-to-incredibly awkward experience. But imagine pretending to have (bad) sex in front of a crew of professionals for weeks at a time. For ten years writer and actor Jonas Chernick prepared for such an eventuality, working to get his explicit comedy My Awkward Sexual Adventure off the ground.
With the help of frequent collaborator / director Sean Garrity (they also released the very, very different film Blood Pressure earlier this year) Chernick finally completed his vision of uncomfortable intimacy, to the delight of international audiences and critics.
My Awkward Sexual Adventure is the story of Jordan (Chernick), a whiney, uptight accountant whose awful performance in bed sends his girlfriend packing. To win her back he enlists Julia (Emily Hampshire), a stripper in severe financial trouble, to introduce him to the art of perversion.
We spoke with Chernick about acting in the nude, wayward money shots, and what his parents think of the movie.
Please tell me this movie was shot in sequence, and that the first scene filmed was the opener: you and Sarah Manninen ("Rachel") having incredibly uncomfortable staged intercourse.
[Laughs] It was not shot in sequence. We shot Blood Pressure that way but it's a real rarity in moviemaking. The first scene we shot for this movie was the rub-and-tug scene. First day, giant crew, and we're in an actual rub-and-tug establishment in Winnipeg. I was butt-naked in front of the cast and crew the whole day.
So you really let it all out?
We made sure all our actors were on board for (nudity), and I thought "If this is what I'm asking of my actors I have to lead by example." I wasn't walking around all day with my balls flapping around but I definitely bared all (on set).
It must've alleviated tension pretty quickly. With so many naked people, what else is left to feel more awkward about?
Yeah. Half the crew had worked on a film we did a decade ago called Inertia; the first scene of that showed my naked ass. For the other half it was a great way to start things off.
I promise there are more intelligent questions to come - no pun intended - but what kind of substance did you use for the "money shot in the eye" scene? Didn't look like there was any trick photography involved.
I have to give credit to our art department and our amazing prop master Don Greenberg. He created some kind of saline solution I believe, but for the record I'm not a prop guy so I can't say for certain. I can say it was very safe because the actress who took the shot in the eye, the great Winnipeg comedienne Andrea del Campo ... the first take is the one you see in the movie. The prop handler was crouched off-camera and aimed the projectile device accidently into her eye. Her reaction is real, the look of disgust pretty genuine. But she was fine because the solution was as safe as fake semen could be. And apparently it's very good for the skin.
Was her face glowing after the take?
Yeah, her eye looked young and vibrant.
How was your experience with rating boards, both in Canada and internationally?
There's plenty of male and female nudity in the film but so far so good. We haven't had, to date, a single controversy over ratings / content. Provincially in Ontario we got an 18A, which I think means you can see it with an adult. Same thing in Manitoba. We wouldn't have minded some opposition, because we were prepared for that.
Your character Jordan isn't meant to be autobiographical, but do you share similarities in your personal style? How you dress, how you carry yourself?
The way he presents himself was the least autobiographical. I do connect with and share his vulnerability. I drew from my past: he's going through something I might have experienced more so in my late teens or early 20s, the awkward period in a man's sexual evolution. Not knowing what to do, or who to ask. No man wants to admit sexual ignorance or insecurity. We hide that. So I borrowed some of the experiences of that age. Now that I'm approaching middle age and have become an incredibly skilled lover I can look at those times with fondness.
You play similar characters in Blood Pressure and My Awkward Sexual Adventure - men who are devastated by the loss of a woman in their life, and seek the help of another to help them recover. Watching them was like seeing the same arc developed in entirely different universes (tragic vs. comic).
You must have shared that with Sean - after your interview with him he brought this up to me, but we'd never thought of it. I'd never thought of them in the same context which is odd considering I played them back-to-back ... in movies by the same director. Now that you've mentioned it, sure, they are similar in that regard. They are personifications of desperation. Now that I'm overanalyzing it - they're both vulnerable characters who put their faith in a woman and hedge their bets.
How about the ultimate awkwardness: have you watched the movie with your parents?
I have. Ironically my mother was an investor in the film, so her name is in the credits. She loves it. She's brought all her friends to see it. But it was awkward watching the scene where Jordan imagines his own mother giving him a hand job to keep himself from ejaculating. My dad was more shocked. He lives down in Palm Springs and I sent him a copy. He was concerned because he thought I might have actually made a porno movie. It wasn't until he watched it with an audience that he got what it was all about.
My Awkward Sexual Adventure opens across Canada April 19.