The Clever Story Behind 'American Gods' Human-Consuming Sex Scenes
In the first episode of Bryan Fuller's new fantasy series American Gods, Bilquis (Yetide Badaki), the ancient goddess of love, consumes a man mid-coitus, sucking him up through her vagina. In the just-aired second episode, we see the man drift through the cosmos with a rather dazzled expression on his face. Apparently there's still pleasure in being reverse-birthed to death.
How did Fuller turn everyday bedroom activity into a shocking, horror sequence (which American Gods escalates into a orgastic montage later in the episode)? Here are the secrets behind one of the wildest sex scenes to ever hit TV.
Creating a killer sex sceneAs Bilquis devours 'Paunch' (Joel Murray) with her vagina, the goddess appears to grow larger and larger until the man disappears. Given the task of actually making that over-the-top imagery a reality, visual effects designer Kevin Tod Haug and his team considered several ways in which it could be filmed for real.
Haug's team first considered filming the actors in separate takes at different distances from the camera, then recombining them so that Badaki would look bigger than Murray. That proved problematic.
"A lot of our initial plans were based on having a track in the floor that you could pull back to get the room in frame, and then push in to make her bigger," says Haug. "But the problem was it didn't always line up properly."
Haug required a different solution using the previously shot sex footage. Luckily the American Gods team captured Bilquis's consumption in such a high resolution and that visual effects artists could basically lay Badaki's skin over a stand-in digital model of the actress. Visual effects supervisor David Stump, who worked with Haug, was also able to hack the digital camera footage to get even higher resolution imagery, allowing the character to appear photoreal, even as Bilquis filled her vagina with a fresh human sacrifice.
Through the female portalAlthough the sex scene with Murray and Badaki happens in the first episode, we don't actually see the result of him being consumed by the vagina until the second. That involves Murray taking a trip through a cosmic-like universe - fully naked and fully grinning.
Interestingly, the naked man in "space"was not played by Joel Murray. "They actually found a local actor who looked a little like him," notes Haug, "and just happened to be naked."
Amongst the cosmos is a constellation that is not so subtly shaped like a vagina. When American Gods effects specialists took on the challenge of building that digitally, Haug had to encourage them to do some... extra research. "We said, well, you need to go back to an anatomy book and make a detailed model of all the points of a vagina."
Bilquis performs her powers on others during the show, too, and -- spoiler alert -- the vagina nebula won't be the only computer-generated genitalia featured in the series. Stay tuned…
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