Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ten Sexiest Stars of Classic Broadway (IMHO)

Yes, I'm obsessed with Broadway. And why not? Guys singing, guys dancing, guys in great costumes (and yes, many of them are gay but they're still hot, for heaven's sake), romance in abundance, and plenty of sexiness.

I've been obsessed with Broadway since I was a tiny child, as my list below will attest. Alas, I also live in the Midwest. So I'm far from an expert on the current stars trodding the boards in NYC. Still, I can recognize all kinds of classic and unforgettable performances over the years. So, for what it's worth, here are my top ten guys who rocked the stage (and sometimes screen) with their hotness:

Yul Brynner, the King of Siam, "The King and I" (1951) (see also
this post) - Exotic, beautiful, funny, fierce and Oh, and also shirtless throughout the whole show.

Robert Preston, Harold Hill, "The Music Man" (1957) - The original charming shyster of Broadway. Prof. Hill, I never heard those bells, till there was you.

Gerome Ragni and James Rado, Berger and Claude, "Hair" (1967) (see also this post) - The originators both of the show and the starring roles, they served as inspiration as I passed through puberty. I slightly preferred Claude.

Victor Garber, Jesus, "Godspell" (1971) (see also this post) - Is it wrong to think of Jesus as hot? Well, he wasn't actually sexy, just sweet and funny and brave and lovable. I'm still not over my crush on Victor, it's been a doozy all these decades.

Richard O'Brien, Riff Raff, "The Rocky Horror [Picture] Show" (1973) (see also this post) - To say he's not classically handsome is to state the obvious...but the show's creator and eccentric star was undeniably sexy in this role. It's downright scary how sexy...

Kevin Kline, The Pirate King, "The Pirates of Penzance" (1980) - Sure, he's goofy, but you can't resist him in that "alarming but effective costume." He can swash my buckle anytime.

Michael Crawford, The Phantom, "The Phantom of the Opera" (1986) - Appropriately, I fell under the spell of his voice without needing to see his face.

Anthony Rapp, Mark, "Rent" (1996) - Can't really put my finger on why I'm so attracted to Mark (my daughters saw the show on Broadway and were sure I'd go for Rodger). He's just damn cute.

Hugh Jackman, Curly, "Oklahoma" (London Revival) (1999) (see also this post) - If you like Hugh, then you should He's absolutely breathtaking.

Jason Danieley, Lieutenant Joseph Cable, "South Pacific" (Concert Version) (2006) (see also
this post) - I'm cheating a little here, having not actually seen Jason perform this role or any other, but his version of "Younger Than Springtime" is absolutely heavenly.

That's a pretty eclectic group, hey? I know I left out scads of other worthy candidates. Please share your favorites of yore or today in the comments....

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Is Defanging Really So Terrible?

This morning my publisher alerted me to a recent article on by Grady Hendrix, entitled "Vampires Suck; Actually, they don't. And that's the problem." Grady has a real problem with what I call the defangitization of vampires. He's a lot like Dr. Steven Grey (pictured), a vampire featured prominently in my upcoming book, How to Catch and Keep a Vampire, and author of the essay "The Hideous Domestication of Vampires." The two share an intolerance for anything but the old-fashioned Nosferatu kind of undead.

Their complaint seems to be resounding louder lately. The more popular vampires become with the general populace, the more they are being reinvented according to individual interpretations. Whereas once (Grady would say, pre-Buffy) anyone telling a vampire story tried to stay consistent with Bram Stoker, nowadays it's a bloodsucking, or even nonbloodsucking, free-for-all. And it's the nonbloodsucking that has folks like Grady brandishing pitchforks.

I'm sure you must be dying (or undying, if you're a creature of the night) to know what I have to say on this point. Right. Well, I took it upon myself to respond to Grady in his comments section, and in the interests of laziness, will reprint here for you what I said:

It seems to me there are two types of vampire fans: (1) people who want to keep strict adherance to the "classic" archetype, and (2) people who want to adapt the vampire fit their preferences, even if those characteristics are far afield from the old legends.

I'd like to assure Grady that the original, "monstrous" vampire archetype will always be with us. Meanwhile, I have no problem with creative adaptation. The immutable essence of the archetype, no matter what spin you put on it, is that it is the Shadow, refering to the term used by psychoanalytic theorist Carl Jung.

Whether he kills or not, drinks blood or not, hates mortals or not, the vampire archetype always represents some sort of dark aspect of human nature that society shuns and hides--all the while obsessing over it. Whether that shadowy, guilty obsession is sex, violence, danger, evil, etc., the vampire serves as the perfect seductive personification.

Bill Compton is not a killer but he represents the socially unacceptable and morally compromised. Edward Cullen is not a sexual threat but he still personifies danger, unpredictablity, and uncontrollable desire. These and other "new style" vampires may be too angelic for Grady's taste, but they are always devilish to some degree.

People of all cultures, ages and interests are reinventing vampires in new ways, always to work out their own dark urges and express in the fantasy realm what is not possible in reality. So let them! I'm sure Bram Stoker's Dracula won't mind.

So there you have it: I do appreciate those people who don't want to see the old-style vampires "die out." But you see, an archetype that powerful is not going to be killed off by any mere popular trend. At the same time, there's never anything wrong with being creative and innovative about your character development and storytelling. There's room for Bill-lovers, Eric-lovers, Edward-lovers and Dracula-lovers.

I say, variety is the spice of undeath.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


I’m a fan of “True Blood” on Facebook, and yesterday the fan page put up a notice of new tee shirts that say “Sookie is mine.” For those of you who don’t watch the show, the reference is to vampire Bill Compton’s statement concerning his mortal love, Sookie. This declaration is more than simple romance: it guarantees Sookie’s safety in the face of the covetousness of other vampires. Possession is just that big a deal in vampire world.

Well, this posting set off a slew of comments, needless to say. And not a one was negative. Not a single “isn’t this chauvinistic?” remark. On the contrary, everyone was wishing they were Bill’s, or Sookie was theirs, or they were Eric’s or Sam’s or Jason’s, etc.

It would seem that possessiveness, in spite of all society’s politically correct efforts to the contrary, remains sexy.

I’ve touched upon this topic before, in my
3/9/08 post about “Lost’s” Benjamin Linus. His fierce proclamation regarding Juliet —“You’re mine”—is still haunting the dreams of infatuated fans everywhere. To those who find Ben attractive, this greedy, covetous, jealous statement is just about the hottest thing he’s ever said.

Possessiveness, in practice, is not the most desirable trait in a mate. In its most dysfunctional form, it has driven psychopaths to kill. More typically, it causes strife in relationships and makes money for marriage counselors. But in fantasy, fiction, and shows like “True Blood” and “Lost,” it’s all kinds of sexy and romantic.

This is another one of those throwbacks to our more primitive days. When females depended upon males for protection, food and shelter, it was a boon to have your man ferociously possessive of you. You didn’t want him to take it lightly that a competitor or enemy might steal into your camp or castle at night and abscond with you. Men were (and in many ways still are) hardwired to look upon women as prizes to be won in competition with others, and the words “she’s mine” meant victory. Women were flattered to be considered the object of such competition, to be favored enough to be a “prize.” The words “you’re mine” meant a man had found her worthy of fighting for, perhaps to the death.

As obsolete as such concepts are today, we can’t completely put off those primitive feelings. The resulting phenomenon is that a female’s emotions are stirred by the storylines of “True Blood” and “Lost.” We love the concept of a vampire so desperately in love with a mortal woman that he forbids any other to dream of possessing her, and puts his fury behind the words. We even experience a sexual thrill when a diabolical villain declares his possession of a woman who shuns him, knowing it is a demonstration of his desperate desire for her.

I have lately been making my way through the Twilight books, and I must confess there is a recurring problem for me. It’s Bella’s aversion to marrying Edward. I understand her feeling some shame for marrying so young, but I know in her position I would give more weight to my delight at having such a fellow want to bind himself to me. I wondered if perhaps the teens of today are the first generation to not feel such traditional emotions on the subject.

I admit I’m incorrigibly old-fashioned, but I fall back on those things that thrilled young girls in the 60s and 70s: getting “pinned” or having your boyfriend give you his class ring…carving your initials together in a desk…getting an engagement ring. I wondered sadly whether it was becoming passé to feel you belonged to someone, and they belonged to you. Should candy manufacturers stop making those hearts that say “Be Mine”?

Well, the comments about that “True Blood” tee shirt were very heartening to me. The old instincts, apparently, are not dead.

I’m not alone in wishing I could hear Bill or Eric growl “[your name here] is mine.”