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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Measure This!

Somewhere deep and dark and slippery lies the heart of attractiveness. Setting off primal, limbic impulses, there are some faces and bodies and voices that inspire nearly universal approval. If we can isolate such an intangible thing as sexiness in a man, something that oozes across a silver screen and melts itself into women's panties, then surely, as a man, I must figure it out! If only to understand my own insecurities. But how do I create metrics for such a subjective experience? First, I must start with a list.

To create such a list, I had to get deeply in touch with the anima inside. I also interviewed Olaiya and Diane to get some preliminary names and impressions. I compared their lists with various top 5, top 20 and top 100 lists from Europe and America. I then compiled a revised, Stave It Off approved list of the 20 sexiest men in 2006. Interestingly, most of these names appeared over and over again on other people's lists... suggesting that a relatively small handful of actors are tweaking femdom's collective nipples.

Part two is that I present the list to the public and invite comparison, derision and justification for your favorites. Hopefully, your feedback will illuminate something profound for all of us.

The rules: I've omitted people that used to be sexy. You will not find Sean Connery, Paul Newman, Harrison Ford or Peter O'Toole on this list. I know people say Sean Connery is still sexy, but that's just freakin' creepy. Nor will you find Jack Nicholson. If you think he's sexy, go find a fetish site to read. I've also tried to distinguish between "handsomeness" and "sexiness". Note that neither Ben Affleck nor Keanu Reeves appear on the list. I've also omitted the Elijah Wood/Toby McGuire/Matt Damon manchild archetype. If you're into those kinds of guys, you should probably stay away from the teaching profession, and my research project. Now that I've finished telling you what to think... it's your turn to tell me! In no particular order, here come our research subjects:

John Turturro

Ewan McGregor

Clive Owen

Johnny Depp

John Stewart

Christian Bale

Gael Garcia Bernal

Jet Li

Viggo Mortensen

Chiwetel Ejiofor

George Clooney

Terrance Howard

Robert Downey Jr.

Alfred Molina

Javier Bardem

Takeshi Kaneshiro

Benicio Del Toro

Hugh Jackman

Jonathan Rhys-Meyers

Jaoquin Phoenix



At 7/31/2006 03:09:00 PM, Blogger wheylona said...

Random comments, which may or may not be useful for your research:

1. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Joaquin Phoenix actually look fairly similar, but whereas Joaquin is attractive in a rough sort of way, Jonathan is too creepy looking for me to find him attractive--something about his light eyes; he's also sort of too Kennish and plastic-y for my tastes.

2. That's the best photo of Javier Bardem I've ever seen. Wow.

3. It's Alfred Molina, not Albert.

4. These guys (for the most part) are all guys who seem to have actually experienced stuff, they're older and they're not just pretty faces or completely vapid Ken dolls.

5. It's hard to tease apart their (perceived) personalities from their physical attractiveness. In other words, attractive personalities enhance physical attractiveness and rotten personalities diminish physical attractiveness.

6. These are all attractive guys but I'm not really in the mood to call any of them sexy. If forced I'd pick Johnny Depp and maybe Viggo.

At 7/31/2006 11:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where is Colin Farrell??? As for your list, my two picks would have to be Clive Owen and Jaoquin Phoenix, but I have always liked the brooding type.


At 8/01/2006 02:40:00 AM, Blogger Diane said...

I agree with Wheylona: attractive/handsome does not necessarily mean sexy.

Smart is sexy.
Humorous is sexy.
Kindness is sexy.
Charm is sexy.

Any combination of above can be fabulously sexy.

So where is John Lovitz? You know he was on my Top 10 list!

At 8/01/2006 08:34:00 AM, Anonymous mel said...

I third that....or second it depending on how you count. Sexy is very much related to personality as well as looks. In fact, sexy can be despite looks in some cases-there is an actor I'm thinking of on that one- yet can't think of his name.

I'd say Collin and Clive, although it is harder to choose when you really put some thought into it.

I read an article a while back that talked about how men and women process emotions differently- not better or worse- nor was it about how deeply they felt them- just different in how and where they processed them.

Anyways, when they did MRI's on people talking about various emotional issues, men's brains lit up mainly in one spot, women's did in many places. Insert snarky remark here, or think about how it makes sense to numerous disagreements between the sexes over this issue-some things really are that simple to men, and are that complicated to women- it's in the wiring.

What does all this have to do with sexiness? Sexiness appears to have some connection to how we feel or respond to personality, so perhaps it is related. I was wondering if this same type of discussion would be simpler for men talking about which women are sexy? Would it mainly be a visual thing, or would it also come down to a number of other variables?

Perhaps it has more to do with age than gender? When I was 16, I probably would have answered more based on looks, and I can imagine a number of men my age who would also have personality as part of their idea of sexiness.

At 8/01/2006 01:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! You really must have made an effort to get in touch with your feminine side--all the pics you chose are delectably sexy. Even the ones of men I had heretofore thought downright un-sexy like Benicio del Toro, Alfred Molina and John Torturro.

I agree with the above posters that intelligence and charm and humor are sexy. But for me, another factor is skill or mastery. Christian Bale, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Ewan McGregor and Terrance Howard top the hot-diggity list for me (after your own delicious self, of course), and they are also terrifically talented actors. This fourth factor is also why you won’t find Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise or Collin Farrell anywhere near my list. Vapid is decidedly anti-sexy.

Also interesting that there are no blonds on the list. Must be the sultry allure of the dark and brooding…


At 8/01/2006 04:53:00 PM, Blogger wheylona said...

Good eye, Olalya, no blonds. I'm watching Casanova right now with Heath Ledger, and he is so unsexy to me. Give me John Malkovich as seducer any day.

Going back to Dingo: smart + funny + charm = my TV boyfriend Stephen Colbert. I loooooooooove him; he's hot.

And Mel's right, too--age makes a difference as well. Definitely when I was younger pure physical appearance was sufficient. But now you must be more than a pretty face; in fact, I'd prefer if it you weren't a pretty face.

At 8/01/2006 06:02:00 PM, Blogger Diane said...

Agree with Oliaya that mastery of craft is exceedingly alluring. Which is why actors such as Keanu Reeves and Tom Cruise fall flat: they can’t act worth shit unless dressed up in CGI action imagery, long black coats or tidy whities and designer sunglasses. Ineffective and incompetent does not mean sexy in any milieu. Talent might be a subset of Smart.

No blondes? I consider Ewan McGregor a blonde. Although he doesn’t do much for me, I did enjoy an evening with Wheylona watching an obscure film (title forgotten) featuring him in full frontal nudity. We paused and zoomed in many times on her 36 inch screen and I eventually understood what she appreciated! What fun Wheylona, yes? But that is another story. My blonde nominee is Paul Bettany.

Oliaya, the ultimate chef, used the adjectives “delectable” and “delicious” in her response.

So I’m thinking if asked to choose from the offered list, I’d select the “yummy” Terrence Howard. He gave one of the best performances I’ve seen in years in “Hustle and Flow”. He is at least intelligent enough to have earned a degree in chemical engineering, and I happened to see him as a guest on the Ellen Degeneris show a few months ago and he was so erudite, genuinely humble, personable, and totally charming, disarming and sweet. All those sexy elements. Plus, he does looks so fine.

At 8/01/2006 07:21:00 PM, Blogger Diane said...

I notice there are no comments from the male contingent, including the blog host. What gives?

At 8/02/2006 02:00:00 AM, Blogger Johnbai3030 said...

Well, I'm hoping for more feedback before posting any qualitative research results... but here's a few observations based on what I've heard.

Wheylona says she'd prefer a "not-so-pretty" face... but she betrays that by saying ultimate pretty-boy Steven Colbert is her boyfriend... and by issuing a "wow" at the unusually flattering picture of Javier Bardem. So I'm left wondering just how much credibility she has when she claims not to be overly swayed by good looks.

I'm impressed at y'all's ability to break it down... specifically in identifying skillfulness or mastery as a qualifying trait. I think that's a big factor in why I left out Colin Farell (He hasn't impressed me with any acting chops yet.) It'll be more interesting to try to figure out the subtle differences between "charm" and "humor". Also, I think "humility" might be paired with "kindness" in the trait charting. For example, Gorgeous George Clooney is obviously smart, talented and even fairly funny. He looses a few points on the humility scale though... since his megalomania shines through in every project he involves himself in.

Maybe I should keep track of negative traits... like Jonathon Rhys-Meyers "creepiness" factor, Benicio and Jaoquin's famous portrayals of major scumbag characters, Alfred Molina's "Freud-i-ness", Gael's poutiness, John Stewart's "snarkiness", etc.

It also might be interesting to break down some sub-categories. Like the intellectuals: Turturro, Stewart, and Molina. Or the dangerous types: Benicio, Viggo, and Christian Bale. Or the men's men like Clive and Javier. Perhaps the sensitive artist archetype (Jaoquin, Robert Downey Jr., and Terrance Howard,) or the golden boy type (e.g. Johnny Depp, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Ewan McGregor.)

Not sure why other men haven't posted commentary. Probably afraid of being called gay. Insecure losers.

At 8/02/2006 06:28:00 AM, Blogger wheylona said...

Whoa Johnbai: I didn't say that I was immune to a pretty face--I can certainly appreciate them when I see them, as I did when perusing your specimens. Also, I'm surprised you put Stephen Colbert in the "ultimate pretty boy" camp--I think he's actually pretty regular looking: nice but no bombshell. Besides, he's sexy for me not because of how he looks but because of how he acts. The fact that he looks nice is bonus (though I suspect that if I didn't like him otherwise I wouldn't find him quite so nice looking or sexy--see how that works?). Finally, I did comment on how nice Javier Bardem looked in that photo, but also note that he did NOT get my vote for sexy.

It's a bit difficult to get to the crux of what is sexiness and tease it apart from physical appearance when we're using celebreties, who generally are already pretty damn good looking, as benchmarks. (You should have included Jon Lovitz!) And I don't understand why you left out old men like Sean Connery and Harrison Ford. Just because you find them icky doesn't mean that we women don't find them sexy, even now. After all, aren't you looking for what's sexy in the real world?

Speaking of the real world: I knew a man many years ago who was far from the standard of male beauty. He was obese, his hair was thinning, he was rather pale, and he was also intimidating to those who did not know him (he was very tall and had a booming voice). But he was also a very witty, kind, generous, intelligent, attentive, and confident man, and he had his fair share of females lusting after him (and no, he wasn't wealthy nor did he hold a position of power).

At 8/02/2006 07:00:00 AM, Anonymous Moxyfilms said...

If I were in my late teens or 20s, I would have said George Clooney would be my top pick. But looking at these faces, I find them all passable, even though I know I find some of these actors incredibly talented, which is sexy to me. Looking at this list makes me kind of disappointed because it takes away everything about these people that makes them original and attractive.

At 8/02/2006 09:09:00 AM, Blogger Johnbai3030 said...

Good point Moxy... lists are inherently unsexy because they really do dehumanize. Even the fact that I chose a cleancut picture of Johnny Depp rather than a scruffy one robs him of his full range of humanity. I think I was (and this was a mistake) trying to find a bunch of 2-D snapshots for comparison's sake, rather than starting with a smaller list and recognizing the uniqueness of each person. Probably this mistake stemmed from initially trying to create an official Stave It Off top 20 list.

Also, a note on the oldsters: Sean Connery creeps me out... Because he's about 105 and has written about the pleasures of beating his wife. Jack Nicholson creeps me out because he's about 100 and has been ugly and freaky since he was 17. I don't find Harrison Ford, David Bowie or Paul Newman "icky". I just wanted a fresh list. Something to be said for moving past the old guard ya know. It should be noted that relative newcomer Terrance Howard has been a popular choice thus far.

At 8/02/2006 10:11:00 AM, Blogger Origami Nightingale said...

Johnny Depp for his acting versatility, for his resistance to live in the throes of Hollywood, and for his deep brown Don Juan eyes and cheek bones that remind me of delicate mountain ranges.

Viggo Mortensen for his political convictions and compassion, for his humble charm, and for his soft, deer-like features and presense.

Ewan McGregor for his willingness to take risks (hence, the lovely nude scences in films--have you all seen The Pillow Book?), for his seeming sweetness, and for his dimples.

At 8/02/2006 06:37:00 PM, Anonymous LW said...

I'm going to be super obvious here, but seriously...How can you not say Christian Bale is so incredible it's almost sick? Also, George Clooney is the best of the best. Older or not, he's still the MAN!

In the end, it all comes down to this; the idea of sex and Hollywood figures is just that...an idea.

It will never happen and no sense can be made of it, but why not fantasize...so include the guys that remind you of your first boyfriend (aka. Matt Damon!) or that super hot guy you hooked up with on Spring Break in college (aka. Josh Duhmael), in the very least give us one of the classics on everyone's list. Come on...Brad, Ben, Will Smith (you know you love the Fresh Prince)!!!

My two are chosen from your little list, but I will leave you with a few notables that can't be left out.

Orlando Bloom - sex sells
Adrian Grenier - ENTOURAGE, enough said
A Wilson brother (give me Luke at least)
Paul Bettany - dig the accent
And any guy who looks hot in a baseball uniform!!!

At 8/03/2006 08:49:00 PM, Blogger Yojimbo_5 said...

I'll weigh in here.

My wife USED to be a great fan of Johnny Depp...now considers him a "sell-out" for "Pirates of the Caribbean II." Still in it for the "art," Johnny?

And although she thinks Ewan MacGregor is great just for "Moulin Rouge," her fave isn't even on your list: Chou Yun Fat--the epitome of "cool."

My sister meanwhile is a fan of Hugh Jackman and Viggo Mortenson.

My take on these cats? Depp is fun to watch, but I can usually see the "strings" when he's acting. Has anyone seen "Ed Wood" and not wanted to shout out at the screen "Jon Lovitz!!"

MacGregor seems to me to be a man-child, though I did like what he tried to do with Obi Wan Kenobi. Jackman is dull when he isn't "Wolverine" (and "Wolverine" was dull in "X-Men III!") and Viggo Mortenson never, ever registered in a movie (and he's been in dozens!) before the "Rings" films.

Although I'm sure all the men on your list have many fans (John Turturro...really?) the men I enjoy watching are Clive Owen (I thought he would have made a good James Bond until I saw "King Arthur"), Chiwetel Ejiodor (great in both "Serenity" and "Inside Man"), Clooney (he's finally doing great work though I think his best work was "Return of the Killer Tomatoes"), Howard (he's terrific in everything he's done), Downey, Jr. (same thing--too bad he's something of a jerk in real life), Molina (the one element that made "Spiderman II" work...anyone remember him in "Raiders of the Lost Ark?")and the suddenly interesting Jaoquin Phoenix (actually pulled off playing Johnny Cash...and was very good in "Signs")

Now where are "The usual suspects"--Hugh Grant, Jude Law, and Pierce Brosnan? For me, they're all such schmucks in their private life (like Downey and Farrel)that they have no appeal, but I know that they have their ardent fans.

At 8/03/2006 11:13:00 PM, Blogger Diane said...

Thank goodness, another mention of Jon Lovitz! Can one not appreciate the self send-up of his SNL "actor" charactor on the current Subway commercials: Eat FRESH! All great actors (a la Barrymore) he intones, place the ascending accent on the ultimate word! So endearingly charming and goofy, he consistently make me laugh at things I would otherwise ignore. Maybe it is his soulfull eyes, or some indescribable enigmatic element that Johnbai is addressing in his post. I can't explain why I think him sexy.

Chou Yun Fat was on my original list, with the provision that he should never grow head hair.

At 8/04/2006 11:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Confession time: I really wanted to mention Orlando Bloom-yet only in his LOTR role- and that in itself is pretty creepy and not really sexy- I just love him in that role- especially when he is running after the kidnapped Hobbits and the skateboarding down the....nevermind......

When you think sexy, how do you define it?

Is it just an appreciation for the person as a whole?

Is it in relation to someone you'd find attractive, in an I want to sleep with that person way?

Could you quantify things like % of physical, mental, spiritual, and other qualities and how they add up to sexy or not?

What is your relation (real or idealized) to people you consider sexy?

Can I add Tavis Smiley to the list? I've only seen one picture of him on the back of a book cover, yet I love listening to him on Sunday nights on KUOW. I consider him very sexy....in an auditory, intellectual, and political way.

At 8/06/2006 07:14:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Note that neither Ben Affleck nor Keanu Reeves appear on the list. I've also omitted the Elijah Wood/Toby McGuire/Matt Damon manchild archetype."

OK, you just lost me there. You do not want to consider all the possibilities. While a few of the ones you listed I think are sexy, I'd say that the ones I did like DO fall into the "manchild archetype" as you call it.

At 8/22/2006 02:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ewan McGregor is totally adorable, especially in his movies. However, have you seen a photo of him on the street? He can be decidedly bad looking, at times. I've never seen him blond. He's always had brown hair, in the movies that I've seen him in. Maybe I'm missing an Ewan McGregor film? If so, please let me know.

John Turturro doesn't pass my test for handsome. Sweet, but not sexy. Of course, I've only seen him in a few movies. The one that comes to mind first is the Adam Sandler movie, Mr. Deeds, in which he plays a butler with a foot fetish.

I find that my attraction to actors is influenced by the roles that they play. Which is one reason why I'd include Matt Damon on the list. Between playing a genius in Good Will Hunting and playing a sexy, genius, bad-ass assassin-type in The Bourne Identity, I have some kind of sexy genius association with him. Besides, I'm a sucker for a Boston accent... As for his status as a manchild, I would have to disagree. Matt Damon is all man!

As for Sean Connery and Jack Nicholson--I agree! No sexiness there. For me, there never has been. Harrison Ford used to be on my list, but he has suddenly begun looking his age. I think that Calista Flockhart may be living off his life essence.


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