Take a Trip to 'Planet Sex' With Co-Director Jessica Chermayeff
In the first episode of the six-part Hulu/BBC Three docuseries "Planet Sex," host Cara Delevingne—model, actor and LGBTQIA+ advocate—attends, for her first time, the world's biggest all-lesbian and nonbinary pool party. Known as "Dinah Shore Weekend," "The Dinah" or "lesbian spring break," the festival for queer women has taken place in Palm Springs, California, for the past 30 years.
Delevingne wasn't the only wide-eyed newcomer in attendance. It was the first time attending the annual queer festival for the show's cast and crew, too, including Jessica Chermayeff, who co-directed the series with Ana Veselic.
"We were about a 95 percent queer crew, and none of us had ever been to Dinah Shore before," Chermayeff said. "So we were also experiencing a lot of the emotions that Cara talks about."
Chermayeff and the crew went through a lot of "first times" alongside Delevingne while filming the immersive show, from attending a seminar on masturbation to making ethical, feminist porn with adult filmmaker Erika Lust.
"We did a really thorough job assembling an all-female-identifying team that would feel safe and comfortable together," Chermayeff said. "But at the end of the day, it's still tricky to ask a camera assistant to sit in a room full of masturbating women."
In an interview with Giddy, Chermayeff talked about navigating topics long considered out of bounds (such as porn and orgasms), what it was like to work with Delevingne and why "Planet Sex" is a show for everyone.
Editor's note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
What sparked the idea for 'Planet Sex'?
Chermayeff: Cara and [executive producer] Simon Andreae were the original masterminds. Ana and I were approached by their team at Fremantle, the production company: "Do you want to make a travel show about sex with Cara Delevingne?"
We said, "Yes."
The premise is an exciting one. Ana and I are queer lesbians alive today and Cara is a huge icon for all of us. She's someone who is known for being pretty brave with her own sexuality and having an inspiring presence in pop culture.
We were excited about pairing the notion of wanting to learn more about sex, sexuality and gender around the world. It was extremely intriguing from the get-go and all the more once we talked to her and understood that this was actually not just a celebrity hosting "a thing." The person who came up with this idea really cares and is going through her own personal journey.
For us as directors, that's what we're most focused on: How do you make an emotional connection to the questions you're asking?
Why did you feel like questions about sexuality and gender identity were important questions to ask?
We are at a moment of cultural acceptance and expansion, understanding of the gender and sexuality spectrum, and the millions of ways we all can and like to have sex.
This has also produced an enormous amount of misinformation, fear and misunderstanding. We haven't yet reached a level of acceptance and empathy and understanding for other people and for ourselves.
I think a big part of what we felt was important is exploring some of those places where fear still exists. Cara might be a model who is really used to being very close to naked on camera, but talking about her vulva or masturbating is still squeamish and scary—and that's OK.
Some issues, you think, "This is for people interested in queer content" or "This is for people thinking about sexual health." But this series really took it from the perspective of "This is for everybody." And if it's for everybody, how do we talk about this?
What made Cara an ideal host to talk about these topics?
Outside of her own already amazing preexisting reputation and millions of fans, she's an incredibly emotional person who has the ability to really tap into very quickly what she is feeling and experiencing, and share it.
The challenge of taking someone who might look beautiful or be smart or have questions and seem like a great host is, oftentimes, they're not always in tune with their own emotional journey. Cara really surprised us by being very in tune with hers.
I do really love when Cara attends Dinah Shore in episode one. It was such an amazing experience to be thrust into that raucous party. And it was the first thing we shot, so that's how we met Cara and the whole crew.
We shared a lot of emotions with her: "This is like Disneyland and a utopian experience, but how bizarre and sad and intense that this is so rare still."
What would a second season of 'Planet Sex' look like?
I know Cara would really like to do one on male sexuality. I certainly hope that can happen.