Open Thread: Eroticism and Sexuality

 Posted by on January 22, 2012 at 4:00 am  Mad Men
Jan 222012

Today’s episodes are The Mountain King, Meditations in an Emergency, and Out of Town. I find a common thread of eroticism: Sarah Beth’s longing for a younger man, Betty’s fling in a bar, Sal’s bellhop.

Discuss eroticism and sexuality in Mad Men (or anything else): The floor is wide open.


  16 Responses to “Open Thread: Eroticism and Sexuality”

  1. Sal and the bellhop…SO HOT. Easily the hottest sex scene in the history of the show. From the very second he recognizes the ‘hop’s body language that says yes, I want you, you know it’s his very first time with a man, and he looks like he’s about to explode, all forty-odd years of pent-up lust leaking through that pen cap into his pocket. WOW. But poor Sal. He didn’t even get to finish what he started, and still he got…exposed. (Don probably thought Sal did it with bellhops every chance he got, as evidenced by Wee Small Hours.)

  2. There’s plenty of sexy to go around; one of my favorites is Don and Betty in the living room in Shoot; “No, here.”

  3. DId anyone else notice the colors of the dresses that the two mannequins were wearing in the store window as Betty peers in? Orange and blue–the same colors that Bobbie and her were wearing at the Stork Club when she was confronted by Jimmy about the affair between Bobbie and Don.

    I wonder if she thought back to that and went, “Hmm, he’s had his fun, now I’ll go have mine!”

  4. Chemistry and heat are such “eye of the beholder” concepts that it’s hard to say something is universally “hot”. But, having said that, I have to agree that the TV does seem to start to melt w/ Sal and the Bell Hop.

    Conversely, I find very few of Don’s scenes to be “hot”. For me there is no “will they or won’t they”. They are going to. It’s Don. And not only are they going to, the lady is going to be extremely happy afterwords. So, while Jon Hamm is one hot potato, I can’t say that his scenes — while usually the most explicit — are the ones I find the hottest. Again — definitely “eye of the beholder” territory. With this in mind, I’ll list my top 5:

    5) Betty and the washing machine/window guy fantasy. Surprisingly hot and truly unexpected.
    4) Don and Midge and the post.
    3) Best display of sexuality – Joan bending down for the entertainment of the men — I loved when Ken Cosgrove stood up and saluted. A classic IMO.
    2) Sal and the Bell Hop. Bryan Batt sells this remarkably well.
    1) Pete & Peggy quickie on the couch. Got an immediate “oh no they are not… oh yes they are… oh hot damn.” Plus the iconic silhouette of Peggy’s high heels as seen from the janitor -it was so IDK vintage.

  5. It is “award season” and Mad Men is not eligible (Golden Globes, SAG), so here are my awards for the topic of Mad Men Sexuality:

    Most smoldering: Don and Rachel’s kiss on the rooftop of Menken’s (Marriage of Figaro); honorable mention — Don taking Betty’s dress off in the Rome Hilton (Souvenir)

    Most realistic: Don waking up from a dream, telling Betty to cancel (while she is on the phone making plans) and then Sally walks in on them (Three Sundays)

    Most fun: The humor in the heard, but not seen, noisy sex (crashing lamp) between Don and Faye (The Beautiful Girls)

    Most shocking: Don’s sexual force with Bobbi in the restaurant before Jimmy’s apology (The Benefactor)

    Most pathetic: Tie between Betty jumping on top of Don (The Inheritance) and Bethany making Don “more comfortable” in the back of the taxi (The Summer Man)

    Most cringe-worthy: Drunken Don and Alison on the couch in his man cave (Christmas Comes But Once a Year); honorable mention Peggy and Duck (Seven Twenty Three)

    Most heartbreaking: When Betty tells Sally she will cut her fingers off after she “acts out” while watching TV during a sleep over (The Chrysanthemum and the Sword)

    Most exploitation of an au pair: Pete, the ruined party dress and the German au pair (Souvenir)

    Most exploitation by a bully: Lee Garner, Jr. going after Sal in the editing room (Wee Small Hours)

    • Hhmmm, I’ll have to check out Don and Rachel in the clinch.

      I’d nominate Don and Faye in the cab for most smoldering kiss.

      Most fun: I’ll second that and the following Q/A:

      “Is it broken?”

      “The Lamp?”

  6. Interestingly enough, my gay brother didn’t find the scene between Sal and the bellhop hot.

    Possibly because he’s been living with his partner for 34 years, after living the out and very gay life in New York City in the 1970s.

    The portrayal of sexual unfulliment for gays in the media, not only doesn’t reflect his reality, but I imagine for him it’s a formula he tired of decades ago, because the het media had been only portraying that, and “sad” love for gays, for waaaaay too long..

    • Sal, I’m guessing, was at least 40 in that scene with the bellhop (Bryan Batt is my age, which in 2009 would have been 45 or 46), and remember, this is a man who probably didn’t think of himself as gay even though he was drawn that way to men and not women. Once the bellhop was standing right there on his space, everything blew up. And 5 or 6 years later, everything in New York was different; for the first time, there were gay bath houses that were fully licensed and not subject to police raids, the Christopher Street scene was blossoming post-Stonewall, etc. Sal was born about 10 years too soon to get to be part of all that.

      • Yes, I’m well aware of gay history in New York — and the United States, for that matter. Both from having lived in tho eras from 1950 to present, and from my reading on the subject

        As is my brother aware.

        The point I was making was that it was interesting we heterosexuals saw that scene of thrwarted homo sex as “hot” — whereas my gay brother didn’t, although he grew up in nearly the same period as the fictitous Sal, and also had to hide who he was and who he desired, if only until his early twenties.

        My brother didn’t find the scene of thwarted homosexuality a turn-on, for good reason: the decades on end he lived through during which homosexual love and sex was portrayed as in the mainstream media as either sick or sad and unfullfilled.

        In the ’70s I finally got around to reading James Baldwin’s novel Giovanni’s Room which had been published in 1956. I’d read all of Baldwin’s other works as a pre-teen, but that novel depicting a gay love affair had been left out of the catalogue of our small town local public library. More than likely because it depicted a love affair between men.

        A love affair that ends in betrayal and death, because there were no happy endings allowed in publishing for novels portraying gays in the 1950s.

        I was struck by the literary quality, but when I gave it to my brother he was less so.
        Bill was out by then, living in New York City and immersed in the gay culture they were creating for themselves, including gay sex and love with a happy ending.

        I’m also studied the history of how gay lives and loves were portrayed in literature, film and TV.

        • Freelancewoman, watch your tone.

          One of the things that was said in the documentary “After Stonewall,” was a few gay men talking about how they thought of themselves as pathetic or sick, and the notion of “gay pride,” of being okay with yourself, was radical and new.

          Your brother’s perspective is interesting, and I thank you for sharing it, but it’s a small sample size. I’d enjoy additional gay viewpoints of that scene.

          • An hour I spent on detailing the history of gays depiction in the U.S. media was eaten by the internet Gods.

            In short, I don’t doubt there were self-loathing gays and lesbians 40 years ago. Not a shock when their love and lives in media up to that point — if not supressed completely — was destructively depicted as thwarted /sick/twisted/doomed.

            There are still self-loathing gays, especially those who might be influenced by the religious right’s depiction of their lives and loves as satanic/thwarted /sick/twisted/doomed.

            But that doesn’t change the fact that the thwarted-desire-gay scene is a cliche from decades on end from when that was all that was — destructively — available in mainstream media.

            And it shouldn’t be a surprise that it wasn’t an aphrodisiac for someone who lived through those eras. Especially since the American media — starting nearly 40 years ago with gay and lesbian publishing houses in the 1970s — have offered up more realistic (no less “hot”) scenes.

            [In general, stick to discussions of things related to the show, rather than things related to our blog, other blogs, or other Basketcases, and you won’t get into trouble. this is warning #2. Deborah]

  7. I was never really convinced of the attraction between Peggy and Duck.

    I understand logically how these two people might be into one another….for Peggy …here is an older, well-dressed, powerful man who compliments her after Don berates her…

    for Duck….Peggy is young (not like other young girls), smart, hard-working…and a symbol for DD. Duck knows if Draper finds out about this…it will have a myriad of consequences..but the one he’ll love the most is getting under Draper’s skin by sleeping with his right-hand man.

    All that said—-I still don’t get any sexual chemistry from those scenes.

    • Duck didn’t just compliment Peggy — he presented himself as being all about giving her pleasure. She’d never had that before. (Pete was mostly about servicing Pete, sorry to say.) She probably wouldn’t have found him remotely attractive otherwise, but as smarmy as Duck was, I bet he was fantastic in bed, in terms of sheer technique. But it’s veeeery interesting to me that when Duck says “We were in love” to Don in The Suitcase, Peggy doesn’t correct him, although he didn’t really act like he truly loved her when they were together or vice versa; it seemed more like pure lust.

      • I’m not sure that Pete and Peggy was all about servicing Pete…

        I’m also not sure that Pete and Duck wasn’t all about servicing Duck..

  8. I think the best sexual/romantic chemistry on the show has always been Joan and Roger. When we first found out about their affair in Season 1, Episode 6 their hotel room scenes seemed so comfortable and natural.

    I have the DVDs and it’s funny listening to the commentary from the director and Weiner talk about how they sometimes have to tell Slattery and Hendricks to turn down the heat in some of their scenes because it’s a little too much when the scene is meant to be slightly professional.

    I have to second that I don’t find Don’s escapades hot. Now they have really just become expected and a little dull. It’s more “Don sleeps with woman he just met – per usual” territory. Because it is so frivolous and there’s never any meaning or real substance to the relationship.

    Betty in the bar bathroom was a good one. She didn’t seem as cold and distant as I usually find her.

  9. I liked it when Peggy was returning from the beach and unexpectedly had to sit on Abe’s lap in the car. He brushed the sand off of her shoulder, and they both felt the electricity.

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