ONE of the raunchiest dramas ever to be aired hits our screens next week.
Wanderlust, about a couple in an open relationship, features graphic sex and, according to star Toni Collette, the BBC’s first on-screen female orgasm.
While open relationships are seen as unusual, at least one couple are delighted their lifestyle will be depicted on prime-time telly.
John Lenor and Claudia Mailler, from Islington, North London, have been together for ten years and both sleep with other people.
John, 31, a music producer said: “I’m pleased Wanderlust is bringing open relationships into the open.
“I know lots of couples who find they work for them, and yet there is so much prejudice out there. We are definitely going to watch it with a lot of interest.
“Friends say I’m crazy to let Claudia sleep with other guys, yet we have such a strong, happy relationship.”
Claudia, 27, an artist, is delighted there will “finally” be such an honest portrayal of women’s sexuality and needs.
She said: “Tradition and custom have dictated that women should hide their sexuality. Not any more.”
In the TV series, Aussie Toni and Cambridge-born Steven Mackintosh play a married couple who try to rediscover their mojo by having lots of sex with other people — and by themselves.
It is art imitating life. Last year a survey in Canada claimed that people in open relationships were at least “as happy” as those in monogamous relationship.
John and Claudia were in a monogamous relationship for four years, but time apart while she was at university and John was touring with his band saw them both stray.
Claudia admitted: “At first I thought that must mean the end of our relationship. But there was still a strong bond between us.
“When we met up we confessed to each other that we’d had other sexual partners.”
Then Claudia read up on polyamory — the way of life where people believe it is healthy to have a range of sexual partners.
She said: “I suggested it to John and we realised we still loved each other and actually didn’t care that we had had other partners.”
John said: “Claudia suggested we have new rules to our relationship. That we would live together and love each other — but still be free to sleep with other people. The key would be honesty.
“We’d always admit what we had been up to, and confess if there were any feelings of jealousy.
“It dawned on me this was the perfect situation for a man. I can sleep with other women when I’m away — and Claudia won’t mind.
“This is just about the sex. I’m in no danger of falling in love with anyone else. She’s much more into the polyamory side and goes to meetings.”
The couple say there have probably been about 50 other partners since they got together.
And it is now just part of their lives. Claudia said: “Having other partners doesn’t have a detrimental effect on our sex life — it enhances it because we know we are desirable to other people too.
“I feel the same for John whether I’ve just had a date with someone or not. But having an open relationship keeps things alive, active, sexy. If I am going on a date I will tell John so he knows.
“It’s not a big deal, or a big discussion. He’ll tell me in advance too but it often happens when he is touring so will only mention it afterwards.”
Claudia loves John, but she also gets a great deal of fun and excitement out of meeting, and sleeping with new men. She said: “People say women can’t separate sex and love, but that isn’t true.
“I’m always up front and tell guys I’m in a loving relationship, and that the sex is just for fun.”
Claudia says the secret of their relationship lies in their “unique bond” and she offers a warning to other couples.
She said: “This wouldn’t work for everyone. John and I are very lucky in that there is so much more to our relationship. We are not hurting anybody and are both having fun.”
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In the TV drama Toni, who starred in Hollywood movies Little Miss Sunshine and The Sixth Sense, plays therapist Joy Richards. And the racy opening scenes leave little to the imagination.
In an interview with Radio Times Toni, 45, said: “‘Someone told me I was the first woman to have an orgasm on the BBC . . . and I’m happy to take the accolade.”
- Wanderlust is on BBC1, Tuesday, 9pm.
Getting frisky can be fun… but it’s risky
AGONY aunt DEIDRE SANDERS says: “John and Claudia reckon an open relationship is working for them now, but my postbag suggests the picture may be very different in five or ten years.
“Sooner or later one of them will have sex with someone who makes them feel special. Or one of them will suspect their partner has felt an attraction elsewhere and jealousy and insecurity will eat into them and their relationship.
“And sex is not just a physical activity like going to the gym. Too much elsewhere can start to make sex at home feel run-of-the-mill.
“Keeping sex fresh and exciting isn’t easy, but it is possible for a truly loving couple.
“My leaflet 50 Ways To Add Fun To Sex can help.”