"Oscar Is the Viagra of Statuettes": How Hollywood Success Leads to Better Sex

Illustration by: Zohar Lazar

Fortunes aren’t the only things that rise and fall with the weekend numbers in a town where "success and sex go hand in hand."

This story first appeared in the Feb. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw might pose the question this way: "Could there be a correlation between a home run in the theaters — and a home run in the bedroom?" Answer: You betcha. Talk about Sex and the City: In this city, who’s hitting it has everything to do with who has a hit, which is the adrenaline (and aphrodisiac) of the entertainment business.

"Increased confidence, feeling good about yourself — that lets inhibitions go and increases desire," says Beverly Hills sex and relationship therapist Dr. Shannon Chavez. "Plus a big hit gives you more attention. Attention and admiration feed the ego, and compliments are the key to sexual desire."

Concurs one director who would not be named: "All I can say is, I’ve been trying to repeat my box-office success status from a few years ago ever since. It had an amazing effect on my lifestyle, which in turn jumpstarted my marriage."

Chris Donaghue, a Hollywood psychologist and sex therapist, explains that box-office success feeds directly into sexual self-esteem. "When you are presenting your body to another person, you need to feel good about the product you’re about to present. With a blockbuster hit — or a hit book, movie or TV show — you feel better about your value as a person, and that spills over to your body. Plus, when people are doing well at work, it makes them want to connect. They’re more likely to date, have an interest in sex. Much of identity in this town is based on success, and success and sex go hand in hand."

Nielsen or Oscar also can be potent in the bedroom. As one Academy Award-winning producer puts it: "There’s nothing like an Oscar for your sex life. It’s the Viagra of statuettes." He says he can map the ups and downs in his long marriage directly to his status in the biz. For an award-winning TV writer who spoke to THR, the effect of success was purely extramarital: "After I won my second Emmy, it didn’t really affect my marriage — but it totally heated up my affair with my show’s leading lady."

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