Is there no place on pay cable for the person who simply wants to watch a show where background actors touch each other in sexually explicit ways? Sure, Game Of Thrones might be chock full of bare breasts, and Masters Of Sex may feature its cast and guest stars getting it on, but that leaves a vast barren wasteland of inactivity where weird incidental graphic sex could be occurring. Thus, HBO has rushed to populate that wasteland with unsuspecting background actors. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the new series Westworld is requiring its extras to sign an agreement that asks them to be willing to do basically all the stuff teens who sign purity pledges do—i.e., everything but actual sex.
Under the terms of the consent form, the performer who signs it “may be required to perform genital-to-genital touching, simulate oral sex with hand-to-genital touching, contort to form a table-like shape while being fully nude, pose on all fours while others who are fully nude ride on your back, [and] ride on someone’s back while you are both fully nude.” And sure, that just sounds like a normal Tuesday night to most of us, but what if it’s an off day, and we just feel like having our genitals painted? Oh, wait, it also says that performers will possibly “have [their] genitals painted.” Phew.
While all this hot table-like nudity is going on, performers can take some comfort in knowing that union contracts require advance notice of any “rough or dangerous” work, so all this genital-on-genital action and simulated oral sex will have to stay pretty vanilla. That being said, we’re not sure what kind of all-nude horsey rides the person who drew this up has given, but we’re pretty sure riding around on someone’s back with your private parts exposed to the elements is the very definition of potentially rough or dangerous work. Although, maybe they consider that to be covered by the all-purpose last line of this agreement, which says performers may also have to engage in “other assorted acts the project may require.” Which, when the things you’ve listed start at “genital-to-genital touching,” presumably means these background actors could end the day doing a reverse cowgirl on top of a pile of chicken parmesan while jerking off a pair of Tibetan monks who are singing “Hava Nagila.”
If it gets that festive, HBO would have to get out its wallet, because anything that could arguably be considered stunt work would likely enable the extra to be promoted to “featured performer,” with an attendant bump in pay, and even some of those sweet, sweet residuals. Already, SAG-AFTRA, the union representing the actors, is sending a representative to be in attendance for the shoot, which it only does when it’s worried about potential infractions. The union worked hard to ensure that its members know they have the right to withdraw consent at any time, at least until the scenes are filmed, at which point their rights become akin to those of someone who posts selfies on the internet.
Sadly, that protection only extends to the first 19 extras on a TV show, known as “covered background performers.” Meaning, if there’s a cast of dozens, lots of people might find themselves rubbing all sorts of things they hadn’t anticipated. Meanwhile, HBO rubs its hands together, looking toward a future in which no show lets a scene of quiet dialogue go by without the camera lingering on several men in the distance, doggedly slapping their penises together, in accordance with their contracts.