'Shortbus' on Mainstream Route to Explicit Sex

Recent movies that feature real sex have largely been relegated to art-house theaters. Vincent Gallo's "Brown Bunny" caused a bit of an uproar in 2003, with its graphic depictions that included the director-star receiving oral sex in an infamous scene with Chloe Sevigny. Opening to poor reviews, the movie grossed less than $400,000.

2004's "9 Songs" -- a British film that had a short U.S. run -- grossed less than $50,000.

Certainly there are times filmmakers hope for media controversy to stir up interest in provocative movies. But Mitchell says he's not disappointed. "I was prepared to argue with people who were going to say, 'You shouldn't see this film' because it's such a false argument," he says. "That hasn't happened."

The movie also isn't coasting on any star power. Most of the cast auditioned through the director's Web site, and then held meetings. They met, held auditions, and then developed their dialogue over months of workshop performances, which, of course, involved lots of sex.

Did the sex need to be real? "It's a stylistic choice," says Mitchell.

Of course, the actors had to be comfortable with New York's sex salon scene. Mitchell says he made a cameo appearance in a group sex scene, pleasuring a woman. "It's my Hitchcock moment," he says.

"And boy, is my mother going to be surprised."

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