"Well, you tried it just for once, found it all right for kicks.
But now you found out that it's a habit that sticks,
and you're an orgasm addict." – The Buzzcocks
The new movie Choke, adapted from the Chuck Palahniuk novel, is about a sex addict (Sam Rockwell) who, in one element of the plot, hooks up with other sex addicts who attend the same Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings as him. Ah, the irony. The same thing happened to Sam Malone on Cheers, if I'm not mistaken, which makes the joke around 20 years old. Yet, despite that fact, sexual addiction as a term and a (non-DSM-recognized) medical problem seem fairly new to cinema.
Sure, there have been sex addicts in films for many decades, but they were more likely to be described as nymphomaniacs, lechers or typical men. Think of Dorothy Malone in Written on the Wind, a number of the female characters created by Tennessee Williams and certainly the locked up nymphos in Shock Corridor. In the past few years, however, there have been a slew of actual "sexaholics," both male and female, though some aren't exactly referred to in such a manner. object width="425" height="344">
Bob Crane in Auto Focus (2002)
Depending on where you like to get your facts from, Wikipedia or the movies, Bob Crane is either best known for starring on TV's Hogan's Heroes or for being a sex addict (the latter isn't mentioned in Crane's Wikipedia bio). Personally, I've never seen the TV series, but I have seen Paul Schrader's film about the actor (played by Greg Kinnear), who liked to have a lot of sex and record the acts on the newly developed technology of videotape. It makes me wonder if one day people will think of David Duchovny more for his sex addiction than for his roles on The X-Files and Californication.
Matt Sullivan in 40 Days and 40 Nights (2002)
Though not described in so many words as an actual sex addict (as far as I can recall), Matt Sullivan (Josh Hartnett) has enough of a problem that he decides to give up sex for Lent. Of course, this being the movies, he ironically falls in love during this time. Fortunately, he can magically give a girl pleasure without the use of his hands.
Sylvia Stickles in A Dirty Shame (2004)
Leave it to John Waters to make a movie where many characters are sex addicts. The main character, though, is Sylvia (Tracey Ullman), who goes from being sexually repressed to sex-addicted after a knock to the head and a special visit from a new friend, who "yodels in her canyon." I never could sit through the whole movie (that's typical of me with Waters), but I sorta see it as a less classy Pleasantville.
Caveh Zahedi in I Am a Sex Addict (2005)
This one is pretty obvious due to the title, right? Zahedi's film is kind of a documentary, if you accept the idea that docs can be completely made up of recreations and dramatized scenes (I personally accept the idea). It's about him, it stars him and it autobiographically tells the stories of his experiences as a sex addict, particularly his 20-year obsession with prostitutes, as well as his recovery.
Rae in Black Snake Moan (2006)
Some people attempt to recover from sex addiction through group meetings. But if that doesn't work (and Cheers and Choke imply that it might not), then you can always have Samuel L. Jackson chain you to a radiator until you're healed. Well, that's what happens to Rae (Christina Ricci), though not willfully.
Chazz Michael Michaels in Blades of Glory (2007)
Will Ferrell plays Chazz, a pro ice skater and admitted sex addict. I guess the general joke is that male skaters are typically gay and not sex-starved womanizers. The specific joke about his addiction comes when he tries not to give in to the advances of his partner's new girlfriend (Jenna Fischer), yet he can't hold back from at least grabbing her breasts.
Harry Pfarrer in Burn After Reading (2008)
George Clooney's character in this new Coen brothers farce is mostly considered a womanizer, but he certainly has a sexual obsession, enough that he seems to devote most of his life trying to meet new sexual partners and purchasing or manufacturing new sexual toys. He also has an interesting aftereffect of his sexual addiction, which is an addiction to running five miles after each session of lovemaking.