Sometimes, sex isn’t always so good … but it can make for great TV. EW talked to Michael Branton, the executive producer of Sex Sent Me to the ER about the show’s second season on TLC.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you come up with this idea for a TV show?
MICHAEL BRANTON: It was actually TLC’s idea. We’d been doing a show for them for years called Untold Stories of the ER, which is real doctors telling their most insane stories of emergency room cases, and we had some sex stories on there over the years. And they challenged us, GRB Entertainment, to get couples and doctors, but mostly real couples, committed couples in loving relationships to talk about sexual escapades that ended up in the ER. And you know, that was a challenge as television producers. We put the word out and started looking. Once the show got on the air and everybody saw how well we treated them, we got a lot of people now reaching out to us to say, “I’ve got a story.” It’s not urban dwellers as much you would think. It’s a lot of people in the South and in the Midwest, really wholesome people who, in pursuit of sexual excitement, sometimes make bad decisions and get caught up in the heat of passion and end up needing medical care.
Have you had cases where people have stuck things, um, where they shouldn’t have?
That’s a whole other category. I mean, I just have to say “don’t put things in there” is one thing that we look for on our big board of casting. Don’t put a glow stick in your vagina. Don’t put your penis into a running vacuum cleaner hose. Don’t put your penis in a door knob hole on a door to impress your wife. Don’t put a yam in your vagina thinking that it would block pregnancy because you read it on the Internet, I guess. You know everything on the Internet is true.
Did you actually come across the case of the glow stick?
Oh yeah, that’s a real story, a real couple, and they’re not young either; they’re a couple in their 40s who have been together for a while, and the funny thing is, the reason the glow stick was there was because they were actually caving — they were spelunking with another couple, and they snuck into a little cavern and got out the glow stick to see what they were doing and in the heat of passion she asked him to use the glow stick to her advantage and they couldn’t find it. You can’t make this stuff up. I mean, couples are very experimental, and it’s mostly all in good fun. I mean we don’t cover stories where anything is coerced or violent or weird. It’s people who are saying, “Hey, let’s try this,” and sometimes you just shouldn’t. You know, we feel like it’s sort of a modern day Masters and Johnson class that you can audit every week, because there’s such a thing — we had a woman this year coming up who had something called persistent genital arousal disorder. A real medical condition, very rare, where you’re constantly aroused, and it won’t go away, and it won’t climax, and you’re in misery — sounds maybe nice, but after 48 hours it’s not, and so you have to go to a doctor.
Another couple we had liked to have 24-hour sex marathons and the lesson that we impart is to stay hydrated. We also had a woman who — a real DIY girl who read about on the Internet about spas offering vajacials, and she decided that she was so DIY she was just going to try it at home. And one of the ingredients is habanero pepper along with honey and oil. You know that got up in there, and her husband was helping her, it was all in good fun, but when you combine steam with habaneros and mucus membranes, it can be a big problem and she was in massive pain and just not — it was not a pretty picture.
How do you make sure people aren’t making up stories?
Well by the time that we get out there, we can pretty much tell, because we interview them separately on Skype. Our producers are really good, and they get to know the couple and get to understand a sort of the dynamic behind their relationship as well. There’s a lot of knowledge we get about a relationship that doesn’t necessarily go into the show. Once we get that interview, then we hire actors and reenact it.
Are you surprised at the candor of some of these people, that they’re willing to admit this and on TV no less?
You know, I really am, because when we first started we thought, “Who would come on TV and tell us stories?” And the truth is now that people — we’re in an age of sharing, you know, some would say over-sharing. I would just say it’s open, and I think that sex between committed couples in loving relationships is not anything that people are going to hide under a log, so they’re very happy to come on there. They just want to be assured that we’re not making fun of them, and we’re not belittling them, so it’s their story. I think a lot of the people that are on the show you would like to know. They’re just nice people, and they’re all age; we get people in their 20s, and we get people in their 50s and 60s. If Olympic stars can share sex changes, then why can’t a farmer and his wife share a story about making love in the hay or in the back of a pick-up truck or in a community center while a gospel choir is performing in the next room? I mean people just get carried away in pursuit of their passion.
Sex Sent Me to the ER airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. ET on TLC.