Anatomy of a Queer Sex Scene: Drive-Away Dolls Is Suffused With Lesbian Sex Throughout

Welcome to Anatomy of a Queer Sex Scene, a series by Drew Burnett Gregory and Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya about queer sex scenes in film. Today, Kayla and Drew discuss the recent film Drive-Away Dolls.

Kayla: My wife and I were actually a bit divided on the sex scenes in Drive-Away Dolls! lol love to say my wife!

Drew: Wow! I love to hear you say wife and love differing movie opinions between wives. Tell me more.

Kayla: She thought there was too much oral and not enough fingering! She wants me to clarify there’s nothing WRONG with oral OBVIOUSLY but she just wishes there was more fingering in lesbian sex scenes in cinema in general.

Drew: That’s fair! It’s definitely an oral and dildo heavy movie. Maybe Jamie has carpal tunnel.

Kayla: I think she wanted more dildo action too, which is hilarious since dildos are a very prominent part of the film. But we basically only see Jamie use it on herself and then in a super implied scene that cuts pretty quickly when Jamie and Marian are in the shower together.

Drew: That’s true. We don’t see the minutiae of the dildo usage. What did you like about the scenes? Also, wait, first of all, did you expect there to be this much sex before seeing the movie?

Kayla: I did not! The first thing I was going to say about what I like about the sex scenes here is that there are so many of them! TWO different ones in the first five minutes! And I love anything that OPENS with sex. I start a lot of my own fiction with a sex scene. I like it as an ingress.

Drew: Yes!! I do that too. In fact, I do it so much I’ve started think maybe I’ll always do it. Like a trademark. Every movie either begins or ends with sex or both. And yeah, I do think this is a case where what I’m drawn to with the sex scenes is how filled the movie is with sex. Especially given its short runtime. I wouldn’t say any of the scenes standalone as like All Time Greats, but it’s the casual infusion of sex throughout that feels special. And makes sense given Tricia Cooke referring to the movie as a throwback sex comedy.

Kayla: Yes! It totally has an absurdist sex comedy vibe to it. I feel like it’s playing with so many genres at once, which is really what I love about the film in general. There are so many sex jokes in it too that are actually funny. Beanie Feldstein sobbing while removing the dildo from the wall is a top tier film moment.

Drew: Yes! That also highlights how pervasive sex is in the film even in moments that aren’t sex scenes. Do we want to go through the sex scenes one by one?

Kayla: Yes!

Drew: Oh right, we actually open with Pedro Pascal and the suitcase.

Kayla: Oh that’s right, there’s like a prologue before the sex.

Jamie having sex in Drive-Away Dolls

Drew: So, post-murder prologue (murder, then sex, I’m already hooked), we cut to Jamie going down on Carla. I love how much information we’re told before we even see Jamie’s face. Because as she’s going down on Carla we hear her voicemail message say “Neither Sukie or Jamie are here right now.” Which could be a platonic roommate situation but…nah she’s cheating.

Kayla: Yes, we really get a sense of who Jamie is right away!

Drew: Also how she stops going down on Carla to listen to her friend’s message. It’s so funny and so telling. Most of these scenes aren’t really meant to titillate, even though the very talented Annie Gonzales who I know from Gentefied is very hot and very naked.

Kayla: I do like to think of Jamie stopping to listen to Marian’s message in retrospect too, because we see that there’s some deep care she has for Marian all along. So then in the second scene with Carla that soon follows, Jamie is sitting on her face and gets caught cheating when her girlfriend Sukie calls and Jamie thinks it Marian and tells her to stop interrupting her during sex.

Drew: I love right before that how Jamie puts on Sukie’s cop hat. It’s a moment where you’re like wait this character is a cop?? And it’s like no, she’s disrespecting her girlfriend’s uniform. A great way to have us not care a character is cheating is to make the girlfriend a cop. A real save the cat moment.

Kayla: Absolutely.

Jamie putting a cop hat on while having sex in Drive-Away Dolls

Drew: As far as your wife’s oral count goes…so far, yeah, two for two oral.

Kayla: A lot of oral! No finger action to be seen. When it comes to Marian, historically I haven’t always loved the trope of like “uptight woman who hasn’t been laid in a very long time needs to get laid” but something about it works for me here.

Drew: I think it helps that Marian has a sardonic edge. She’s not what we expect from the trope. She’s a wallflower, but she’s a smartass wallflower which inherently makes her still sexy to me. The next scene does focus on Marian…not because she’s having sex. We just stay with her while she’s sexiled after Jamie brings a girl back to the hotel room.

Kayla: Yes! The girl who was really hoping for a threesome. Here’s another hint at a spark between Marian and Jamie too, because Jamie has a moment there where she would probably say yes to the threesome. Marian removes herself though, shutting that down.

Drew: Yes! There’s a sexual charge there right away. Being sexiled by a friend is sexual?? Is that weird to say? Even if you don’t friends-to-lovers, there’s something about being a door away from someone you’re intimate with having a different kind of intimacy.

Kayla: Toooootally, it reminds me of college dorm. Famously sexy college dorms. Next is the soccer team basement makeout train, which isn’t technically sex I guess but ISN’T IT?

Drew: Oh yeah, it definitely counts.

soccer girls making out in Drive-Away Dolls

Drew: I love the idea of this girls soccer team having makeout parties. It’s the kind of thing you might expect from an 80s sex comedy, but there would be a bunch of guys looking through a peephole. Instead, we get Jamie and Marian having a real moment!

Kayla: It’s so pervy in a good way and weird and FUNNY! The fact that everyone makes out with everyone, I love it! And then Jamie and Marian kissing and Marian promptly freaking out. Presumably, Marian has been out for a minute, but that read baby gay to me in a way that felt INTENSELY familiar.

Drew: I also think it’s because she realizes she has feelings. And is like no you idiot don’t develop feelings for your friend who never commits. She doesn’t want to feel stupid falling for Jamie. And it’s painful, because it’s clear how much Jamie likes her in that moment!

Kayla: Yes, totally, and I think when we have a real meaningful crush, especially on a friend, it can revert us to that baby gay headspace. Jamie REALLY kisses her! That is A KISS.

Drew: Oh YES. And it’s a great contrast with the moment right before when Marian is just pecking her soccer player. This brings us to the next like proper sex scene. They’ve had a romantic night at the hotel restaurant and then kiss.

Kayla: Jamie wines and dines her using her gay credit card, and then they go back to the room, and folks we have more oral.

Jamie and Marian in Drive-Away Dolls

Drew: I love how the scene really centers us with Marian. We start on a tight close up on her face lying down on the bed and then get this really gorgeous symmetrical wide of Jamie taking her shirt off at the end of the bed. We’re seeing what Marian sees. And then yes more oral lol.

Kayla: Placing us in Marian’s point of view that’s called Bottom Vision.

Drew: Lolololol. It’s so tender, and we also get these really cool cutaways to the shimmering light on the ceiling and the bubbles of the champagne. Everything is so gentle, even the fact that after orgasm Miriam is lulled to sleep.

Jamie in Drive-Away Dolls undressing

Marian in a bed in Drive-Away Dolls

a glass of bubbly champagne in Drive-Away Dolls

shadows and light on a wall in Drive-Away Dolls

Kayla: I’m not always advocating for tender queer sex, but it has its place, and this is an example of an instance where it really is quite lovely.

Drew: It also adds humor to what’s happening the next time we’re with Jamie and Marian. AKA Marian woken up from her sweet sexy memory/daydream to find Jamie furiously masturbating next to her lol.

Kayla: Yes lol crashing into Jamie fucking herself so vigorously is such a funny transition! That’s also so real like there are so many ways to get off lol Marian just had this really lovely orgasm and now Jamie is about to have a very INTENSE one.

Jamie masturbating next to Marian in Drive-Away Dolls

Drew: The fact that it’s also after so many other hijinks including THE line of the movie (“Will anyone save Curlie?”) sells it even more. I like the diversity of sex scenes. Funny and sexy and tender and pervy.

Kayla: I do need a will anyone save Curlie? shirt and/or hat. Yes, a lot of tonal diversity to the sex scenes here even if, according to my wife, there isn’t enough diversity of fucking styles.

Drew: Which is a fair point absolutely. I do like that the final sex scene is in the shower and ostensibly is another tender one. But then we get this random shot of their feet kind of splish splashing that highlights the awkwardness of shower sex. It’s a small moment and maybe a feet person would just find it erotic. But I see it as a humorous touch.

Kayla: Justice for shower sex! It’s so controversial but I’m very pro.

Drew: I’m very pro shower sex. It’s great as long as you adjust to the shower circumstances. I do admire the full dildo fucking they get to. But also it’s a fancy hotel shower. Those were made for sex.

Kayla: Yes fancy hotels are exactly the place for shower sex. I do love the entire premise of them using a homophobic senator’s dick.

Drew: Yeah it’s inspired.

Marian and Jamie kissing in Drive-Away Dolls

Marian and Jamie's feet in Drive-Away Dolls in the shower

Kayla: As a former horny child, I did appreciate the representation of Marian being a little freak and spying on her naked neighbor. There’s that peephole moment from so many sex comedies of the 80s but totally flipped on its head. And then the fact that Tricia pulled that from real life as she noted in your interview! Makes it even better!

Drew: Yes! Another moment of sex that’s not a sex scene and a great way to show sexuality in queer children without crossing any lines or putting young actors in uncomfortable positions. I think the movie is just so smart about sex! And about showing sex on screen!

Kayla: Yes! I knew it was going to be a raunchy film but raunchy doesn’t always mean showing a lot of sex, and this did, in ways that were humorous but also real. Even if there wasn’t enough fingering representation.

Drew: Right, again, v important. Let’s throw some anal in there, too.

Kayla: Okay for real though, anal does not get ANY representation in lesbian sex scenes.

Drew: In our interview, Tricia promised even more sex in their next movie. Maybe we’ll get some fingering.

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 870 articles for us.

Drew Burnett Gregory

Drew is a Brooklyn-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. She is a Senior Editor at Autostraddle with a focus in film and television, sex and dating, and politics. Her writing can also be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Refinery29, Into, them, and Knock LA. She was a 2022 Outfest Screenwriting Lab Notable Writer and a 2023 Lambda Literary Screenwriting Fellow. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about queer trans women. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Drew Burnett has written 564 articles for us.


  1. Kayla! Drew!! In my 20+ years of being a lesbian, this is the first time I’m hearing of ANY anti-shower sex chatter*!!!! Is this a new development?!! I’m completely taken aback by this revelation! More often than not its always been a very natural and important part of my experiences, whether *cough* fleeting or fully-realized connections, whether slow, deep make outs or intense…exercise.

    * one friend of mine had a pathological fear of verucca warts so sharing a shower with anyone was a major no-no, but that was a reflection of sharing a shower rather than the actual sex part

  2. Hi, I love this series, it was a great idea. As a French cinema fan, I was wondering if you might cover Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Je tu il elle, or Anais in Love in future?

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