Atlanta couple tries out WE-TV’s ‘Sex Box’ airing March 13

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Gino Lomanaco and Balinda Michaels of Atlanta take part in WE-TV's "Sex Box." CREDIT: WE-TV
Gino Lomanaco and Balinda Michaels of Atlanta take part in WE-TV's "Sex Box." CREDIT: WE-TV

Gino and Balinda of Atlanta take part in WE-TV’s “Sex Box.” CREDIT: WE-TV

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Thursday, March 12, 2015

UPDATE 4/16: WE-TV cancelled the show after five of nine episodes aired. Ratings were abysmal.

Atlanta casting agent Balinda last year came across a casting call for a reality show that would try to repair married couples’ tattered sex lives.

She thought her own relations with her husband Gino needed a little spicing up and applied. They had known each other for more than 14 years (married for eight) with a 10-year-old son. But after a hot start in bed, their sexual libido cooled, as often happens in long-term relationships.

“It was a little slow,” Gino said in an interview Thursday, “a little lagging.” He said it’s a subject very few married couples like to broach in polite company but is all too real to many.

[NOTE: The couple requested two days after I posted this to take their last names down. Given that the stakes are so low, I obliged, though it’s not hard to find out their names. It’s already out there in other places if you’re deathly curious.]

Then they found out what would happen: they’d have sex in a box on a stage. (Thus, the name of the WE-TV show: “Sex Box.”) Nobody could see what’s going on inside though they could hear muffled sound. Afterwards, they exit and talk to therapists about the experience and their own sex lives.

This rather startling twist didn’t deter them. They both figured they needed something to jump start their love life. Why not (sort of) do it in front of an audience? And after watching the 2013 British version, they decided it wasn’t salacious but educational.

“It didn’t seem dirty or sleazy,” Gino said. “It was the opposite. That’s what turned me on to it.”

Balinda admitted she was scared. “I didn’t know what to expect, what people would think,” she said.

But once they actually got on stage, went into the box, did the deed and came out, they said they were very relaxed and comfortable. And they said their love life has improved since the show taped in November.

Their episode airs Friday night at 10 p.m. on WE-TV.

Balinda is even gathering girlfriends to watch the show together Friday night. Gino? Not so much. “I’m shy,” he said. His friends and family know about it but he’s not going out of his way to encourage them to watch.

And how about their son? He knows nothing, they say. Too young. But Gino said he may one day find out what happened and be thoroughly embarrassed. (Who knows? He may find out by reading this story.)

For Balinda, the show was taped on her birthday so one thing’s for sure: this is one birthday she’ll never forget!

The couple isn’t allowed to describe what the interior of the “Sex Box” looks like, though I doubt it’s anything like the Red Room in “50 Shades of Grey.”

“Sex Box” is not exactly capturing the imagination of the viewers or critics, who deemed the show boring, uninspired or just lame.

As mentioned earlier, the concept was first tried in the U.K. in 2013 but only lasted one season. WE-TV’s version opened at a modest 378,000 viewers Feb. 27, slipping to 281,000 the following week. This is not a recipe for longevity. Let’s hope the relationships featured on the show outlast the show itself.

TV preview

“Sex Box,” Fridays, 10 p.m.., WE-TV


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