Home / What Do You Think About During Sex? 20 Perverse Images from Rankin’s ‘X’
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What goes through your mind during sex? Or do you think at all?

If you’re Rankin, the renowned UK fashion photographer, the answer is probably something like: birds … math problems … car crashes… strange dogs … dying … and a whole lot more.

Those are just some of the recurring motifs in ‘X’, the ambitious and hugely rewarding film that Rankin produced and co-directed for London retailer Coco De Mer. The X-rated fantasy is intended for mature audiences only and requires an invitation to view it on the Coco De Mer website, but it’s already been grabbed and uploaded to YouTube where anyone can find it.

Rankin has called this “the best thing (he has) done in film,” but it’s more than that. ‘X’ should be compulsory viewing for sexology and psychology students everywhere. For the rest of us, it warrants numerous repeat viewings, each of which will reveal something new.

Written and conceived by Walter Campbell of the creative agency TWBA London, ‘X’ is a rapid-fire barrage of hundreds of images packed into 2½ minutes. Newsreel footage, nature films and — since Coco is paying for this — live action scenes of lingerie-clad models offering a split-second glimpses into their erotic adventures are spliced together to create a dream-like rendering of sex as it’s processed by the human brain.

It’s alternately funny, salacious, perverse, terrifying and often baffling (Rankin really has a thing for birds). There’s a narrative in there somewhere, but it’s neither literal nor linear. Instead, ‘X’ is a highly impressionistic, but credible depiction of the sensory and neural overload that takes place when people abandon themselves to their animal appetites. Imagine a fever dream bathed in dopamine and flooded with sudden rushes of endorphins.

The film also has a very ’70s film-school feel to it, filled with subliminal messaging and thinly-veiled Freudian allusions. (For example, there are repeated shots of people dislocated or in precarious states — underwater, jumping out of planes, balancing, or in some kind of mortal danger.) But it’s neither as random or as disconnected as it sounds.

What you’ll find most familiar is the rhythm of the film, it’s wave-like movement through various stages of arousal leading up to a propulsive conclusion that mimics the quickening pulse and release of orgasm. Rankin even throws in a couple of cinematic tropes — a popping champagne cork, a train rushing through the dark — as helpful signposts in case you’re lost in the dizzying blur of images.


For Coco De Mer, which is renowned for its advocacy and activism in all things related to sex education, the film is a way to get people thinking about their sex lives in a meaningful way. (The company even invites viewers to send in descriptions of their favorite erotic fantasies.)

“They say you think about sex every six seconds,” reads the sparse advertising copy embedded in ‘X’. “We can help you think about sex more.”

But this is a lot more than a marketing come-on to sell some sexy lingerie or the latest vibrating bedroom aid. It’s an attempt to get customers to invest more cerebral energy into plumbing the depths and diversity of their lovemaking, and to recognize sex as the rich and profound experience it should be.

Below we’ve assembled 20 perverse shots from ‘X’ to give you a sense of its extraordinary scope and none of which, on their own, would ever make you think of sex. To get the full impact, take a deep breath and press ‘Play’ here.

And the next time someone asks what you think about during sex, your answer might very well be: “Where do I begin ….”

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