Out of the Celluloid Closet

An extremely necessary guide to nude male swimming scenes

Night swimming: it’s not just an R.E.M. song that will always make you cry no matter how many times you’ve heard it. In so many films and TV shows, a good old-fashioned skinny-dipping scene is a refreshing way for characters to horse around, get refreshed, and show us what they’re packing. While it’s well-nigh impossible to give you a survey of every film in creation that features men stripping down and getting wet—though our friends at Queerty have done a pretty good job!—for Pride month, we thought we’d focus on a few highlights of the genre. So let’s get wet, shall we?

Yentl

When Barbra Streisand decided to include a nude swimming in her adaptation of Yentl, she wasn’t only taking artistic license, she was taking horny license—extremely important for a young filmmaker!

In this butt-forward scene, we get not only Mandy Patinkin’s tush, but many others. Side note: did Mulan basically just rip this scene and cartoonify it?

A Room with a View

Remember in the movie Weekend how one character talks about the Merchant-Ivory film A Room With a View being his sexual awakening? But he only had a crappy VHS copy so every time he tried to pause it on the skinny dipping scene he had to contend with “Rupert Graves’ shuddering p*nis?” I mean…yeah, neither do I. Not at all. But it still stands to reason: this scene, for many queer Gen Xers, was the holy grail of art p*rn. It remains to this day a fascinating and envigorating watch, and did I mention that every cute 80s boy in the world is in this movie?

The Swimmer

In the 1968 adaptation of the classic short story, gay author John Cheever’s haunting tale of a suburbanite comes to life, and that involves seeing Burt Lancaster’s tush. Of course it does! While the movie is a lot more substantial plot-wise than the story, it definitely adds a lot that didn’t need to be there. But a naked Burt Lancaster is not one of those things.

Insecure

Issa Rae gave us many gifts, and the male nudity on Insecure is only one of them. When Issa Dee and free-spirited, super-sexy Nathan (Kendrick Sampson) have a meet-cute, it turns into a full on date with Nathan daring Issa to skinny dip with him in a rando’s pool. Said rando catches on quickly and chases the lovers away, so the fun doesn’t last long, but it is pretty damn hot.

The River

We’ve spoken before about the once-shocking nudity on display in Frank Borzage’s The River. And yes, while this film was quite scandalous in a pre-ratings, pre-code era, it was far from the only silent film that traded on nudity for shock value.

If you ever wondered, “were people pervs even in the 1910s?” the answer is a resounding yes!

Beach Rats

In Eliza Hittman’s 2017 classic, gay and questioning teens hang out around the boardwalk and try to figure out their sexuality. While there’s no nude swimming exactly, there is a lot of wet and horny hookup action—basically these characters are never seen out of their bathing suits, and when they are, it’s for sexy reasons only.

A Wayward Cloud

In this insane movie from Tsai Ming-liang, a p*rn actor famous for incorporating watermelons and underwater scenes into his work has many a sexy swimming moment. Come for the nude swimming, stay for the wild wacky watermelon aesthetic.

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