Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Erotic Maturity: That J. Peterman Guy

The source material for this entry is a summer replacement reality show called “Dancing with the Stars,” which proves you can find erotic inspiration just about anywhere.

On this show, celebrities pair up with professional dancers and compete at ballroom dancing. Among the competitors (and so far, leading in the competition) is John O’Hurley, the actor who portrayed catalog magnate J. Peterman on “Seinfeld.” Personally, I found J. Peterman one of the most charming characters on that show: his elegant diction and quirky adventurousness were an irresistible combination.

It seems that in real life, John O’Hurley is likewise both elegant and quirky, and it’s winning him some hearts. With the possible exception of boxer Evander Holyfield (who get points for going up against people who may not be dancers, but at least are experienced entertainers), Mr. O’Hurley is competing with some beautiful people who are either young or look it. Meanwhile, John has steadfastly refused to dye his silver hair in order to get younger roles, although he is in fact an astonishing 47 years old (a couple months younger than yours truly). In this youth-obsessed society, here is a man who is actually happy to look older than he is, as if that gives him some sort of edge.

And the funny thing is, it does.

John makes no attempt to win hearts by raw sex appeal. Instead he goes for grace, good humor, self-deprecating wit, and poise. Maybe he took a cue from the dancing genre, for neither Fred Astaire nor Gene Kelly and certainly not Donald O’Connor were matinee-idol gorgeous. But by looking good on the dance floor, they seemed capable, masterful, in control, and they were very sexy. And the interesting twist is, the amateur John O’Hurley learned these moves from his professional female partner: in truth, she is the one running the show—he’s just trying to follow directions. But the fact that he does so, and humbly and charmingly too, makes him really impressive.

My daughter and I both agreed that something about John O’Hurley’s presence makes you feel safe and cozy. Part of it is that capability his manner demonstrates, but in addition to that, he uses such old-fashioned methods to win hearts: good manners, pleasant diction, a warm smile, a good joke. There are a lot of guys trying to get chicks via tight pants, intense glares, sexy moves. This one is different: He’s using his maturity, the personal grace he has achieved in life, the practice of tried and true techniques of cordiality, and the genuine good humor that is integral to who he is.

Dress such a man up in tails and teach him the cha-cha and the quick-step, and who can resist?

I’ve written about Constantine Maroulis and Hayden Christensen, so I’m not exactly immune to the charms of handsome young men. But the way a man like John O’Hurley makes me feel is an entirely higher level of appreciation. Watching him and listening to him are sheer pleasure, and you can’t help but want more.

All of his 47 years and every silver hair count in this guy’s favor.

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