Sunday, 28 August 2011

...A Right Guy

I looked it at like this way. To get folks to like you, as a screen player I mean, I figured you had to sort of be their ideal. I don't mean a handsome knight riding a white horse, but a fella who answered the description of a right guy.—Gary Cooper

One of the sexiest men in the world—in my humble opinion—is Russell Crowe. I hear that gravelly voice and my belly contracts with delicious spasms. No matter what role he plays, he reaches from the screen and grabs me by the hair, drags me with him into this dreamy, sexy world and kisses me senseless, makes love to me until the proverbial cows come home. He’s earthy, virile, sensitive, romantic, dripping with sensuality. 

Is he handsome? I think so, many don’t. To tell you the truth, I’ve never paused in my hero worship long enough to really focus on his looks. His aura, his charisma, is so strong it snaps my lovesick brain and libido straight from his face to his soul. And there—in that soul—lives the man. There lives the sex. 

As Crowe has aged, though, the press has had a field day with his added weight, his sometimes scraggly appearance. They’ve crucified him for doing what we ALL do, what none of us can avoid…getting older. 

It’s this celebrity’s grace and detachment from the tide of ridicule that has also made this woman take a deeper look at him. He just is who he is, he’s happy with that and the rest of the world can kiss his Aussie ass. 

That’s a hero to me.

The reason I’ve mentioned Russell Crowe today is because I recently introduced the hero of my WIP into the story. I wrote him as a big man. An entire football team in one body

What’s wrong with that? Nothing. Many sexy heroes in stories are very big men. How sexy is that? Very sexy. But…but…I knew I could get away with him being big. I knew I could still have him fit the traditional mold of big, bulky hero—as long as I could conventionalize him and make him muscular, make him ripped. Even sexier, eh? 

I could construct him carefully as a big guy and still make him marketable.
But, knowing I was eventually going to come face-to-face with this hero in a scene in which he would disrobe, the ripped image wasn’t what my mind truly saw. It never had been. 

My heart and soul held a very clear image of a big man who wasn’t perfectly built—a massive fellow who had love handles, thick waist, a belly instead of a six-pack—the whole big guy nine yards. 
But the inner light from this man, combined with his confidence and unquestionable power are his sex appeal. 
Some might say, Oh, cool, a character SHOULD be flawed.

Joyce Maynard says, The painter who feels obligated to depict his subjects as uniformly beautiful or handsome and without flaws will fall short of making art.
Hold on there, though, chicas and chicos. THERE is the rub. I don’t find my character’s extra weight, his abstinence from the gym, to be flaws. 

And I become livid with constant attention to these ‘flaws’ in men (and women) suggesting they cannot have sex appeal, they cannot be fabulous lovers or are less than perfect in some way because they aren’t svelte or ripped. 

As I’ve watched some of my favorite stars mature from beautiful youth into even more beautiful middle age and beyond, I’m enraged at tabloids that slap pictures of them with their new ‘love handles’ and softer bellies as though they ought to be put out to pasture now. As though those very cosmetic features were what made them sexy in the first place. Hogwash. No, forgive my language, but I’m mad—bullshit.

Anyone who knows me knows that another of my favorite heartthrobs is the Italian actor, Alessandro Gassman. Sure, when I first laid eyes on him, he was young, he was tall and lean, he was gorgeous. As he’s advanced into mid-life, the newspapers and magazines have been merciless in their critical attention to his physique. 

But, to me, he is one hundred times—no, one thousand times—more beautiful BECAUSE he’s maturing. He’s evolving into one of the most unbearably handsome men I’ve ever seen. 

For this reason—this fury over the preoccupation with physical perfection—I knew I could not, would not, betray my beautiful, big, beefy character by denying him his very identity. No way will I do it. 

I realize my character may not be a money-maker. By stripping him of any physical perfection he may have had, I could very well be also stripping myself of royalties. Hell, a publisher might not even accept him. 

And, again, I want to remind you that I’m not considering his less-than-pristine physique as a flaw. It is not a flaw. It is just who he is. 

In my mind and heart, I see a very sexy, charismatic man. A man I’d love to melt into, to be snug against every extra inch of his warm body. His soul is excruciatingly beautiful. 

The challenge? To, by the power of my writing, make the READER see the same man I see. To endear the reader to the PERSON, not his body, to drag them straight—like Russell Crowe does me—to his soul. 

Bottom line. Age, maturity, the beauty of experience that only life can produce and the evolution of bodies are not flaws. Wrinkles around a pair of eyes are character attributes—awards for having lived—not flaws. 

And, sugar, if anybody ever told you that sex comes only in one size, that it’s only offered in size thirty-two waist or less? They told you wrong.


Victor J. Banis said...

oh, darling thank you so much for this! You are so very right - speakind as a man who's long past his prime - and, miracle of miracles, just today a very studly young man said he thought I was sexy - so I think he agrees with you too. And btw, I often use men in my stories who are not the typical brick outhouse- in Lola or Canals of Mars

KarennaC said...

Amen, Carol! My body's far from perfect, but hubby doesn't care; he loves it because it's *my* body, and he loves me. Since he quit smoking, he's put on a few pounds, but who cares? He's still the sexiest man I know.

Some people think that romances have to present "perfect" heroes and heroines because they're supposed to be fantasies. I disagree. I don't want to read about someone with a perfect body; I want to read about someone realistic.

Cecilia Ryan said...

I have a great fondness for older, softer men. They have a great deal of character and they look comfy to cuddle with.

My latest hero is a man in his late 40s who makes a joke early on about being fat, and then joyfully reveals that he thinks he's allowed to be because he's old and he's earned it. This post just reminded me of why I liked that little section.

He is also fantastically sexy, so hooray for untoned, comfy gentlemen?

Victor J. Banis said...

And I always thought the young Barbera Stanwyck was homely. She turned beautiful about age 50.

C. Zampa said...

Victor, first of all...I recently saw that video of you and I can concur with the young stud!

Funny when you mention Lola, because Terry/Lola were incredibly sexy to me. Perfect example of not fitting the mold of conventional sexiness, but still being very alluring and desirable.

Thank you for visiting!

C. Zampa said...

Hi, Karenna!

Yeah, when you're in love with the 'person' and not the body, then you'll never lose sight of the beauty that attracted you in the first place. THAT is wonderful. Congrats to you and hubby!

And I love real heroes, too.

LaviniaLewis said...

Hi Carol, I agree with you completely. Beauty should and does come from within. I find all different types of men attractive but I definitely prefer a natural, softer physique to a hard, gym worked, muscular body. And out of the two pictures of Alessandro Gassman, I find the second the most appealing. To me that is a 'real man', and who said real men can't also by the subject of fantasy?

If I were you I would stick to your guns. Don't change your character to fit a particular stereotype. It is his individuality, personality and character attributes that will make him shine and become a hero in our minds.

C. Zampa said...

Cecilia, I know what you mean...and I love the word 'character' in describing the mature appeal.

Sometimes that can only be won through living. And, damn, is that ever so sexy!

And you character sounds wonderful!

C. Zampa said...

Victor, I agree with you in regards to Barbara Stanwyck. She DID so fully blossom at her mid-age.

C. Zampa said...

Hi, Lavinia!

You know, I also think the present day Alessandro is indeed the sexiest. Sure, he was pretty and ripped in the other photos. But nothing can compare to the experience, that certain...something...that you can even see in the newer photo.
Confidence. Something. And so much more approachable. A beautiful,human man, not a lofty young god.

Er...can you tell I LOVE Alessandro Gassman? LOL...

She said...

As a reader, you can describe your character anyway you want, but I'm going to picture him or her as I want and it usually will not be who you picture. I like my men with some meat on their bones, women, too. Too many actors, actresses, and models are too thin and it's neither healthy or aesthetically appealing. Nothing turns me off more than being able to see and count the bones in one's body through their skin. Yuck! So describe away and I'll make my own images.

C. Zampa said...

Welcome, She!

We do imagine characters in our own minds, sometimes in spite of the reader's description.

When it's an important part of the character's entire image, though, I hope my purposely acknowledging his not-so-perfect figure will not be overlooked.

His soul, if I write him correctly, will not be able to be perceived any other way than what I've projected.

But, to me, sometimes that purposeful inclusion of a physical description by an author---is important to the character's entire persona, the very core of him.

It's part of his strength that he can attract a reader simply by his soul alone, and let the reader accept his body no matter what it is written to be.

And you must imagine him any way you want. That's the beauty of it all. Imagine him handsome if I don't tell you if he IS handsome or not...just PLEASE do not imagine him ripped and toned. He is not, and he and I don't want you to see him so. To imagine him any other way makes him an entirely different character. LOL...

She said...

I rarely picture any character as ripped and toned. I don't know any who are. They are just ordinary. The emotional make-up of a character leads me to a picture of the character. The physical description rarely points me towards a person to picture as I read.

C. Zampa said...

Sometimes, to disregard the physical descriptions of characters...if this description was intended to be a crucial part of the story, it alters the intended story.

Beauty and the Beast would have no meaning if I decided to picture the heroine as an ordinary, homely maiden. To make her so in my mind, to disregard that she IS to be beautiful and perfect physically, ruins the entire premise of the story, removes the moral. It's a contrast of perfect physical (as well as internal) beauty to imperfection. Same with The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

An author's heart--if he/she incorporates it into their writing--CAN point a reader to a character with both physical and emotional descriptive as well. Sometimes the physical portrait is inconsequential. Sometimes it is not.

Tess MacKall said...

Now you know I agree with everything you say! Ditto, ditto, ditto, ditto, and DITTO!!! LOL

Love men with tummies!!!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I have to go out or I'd sit here and read everyone's response. You put life in to perspective with such elegance. You are one of my favourite writers.

Now, as for men, Russell Crowe is the 50-yr-old FBI special agent in my novel "Dead Witness". When I wrote it I had no clear image of who Canaday was until later when Crowe starred in "The Quick and the Dead". He was so kewl I knew at 50 he'd be my Canaday.

My DH is 65 now and sometimes I look at him and get wet behind my knees. Mature men have always been numero uno.

Now if directors could only recognize that mature women are just as appealing, and stopped putting them in movies as the star's mother. Ie. Barbara Streisand, Kim Bassinger, Lauren Hutton, and Susan Sarandon to name a few.

C. Zampa said...

Tess, hi!!
You're such a doll, woman!
And I KNOW you love the tummies!
Me, too!!!

C. Zampa said...


Russell Crowe was Canady! Of course he was! I can SO see that now, very clearly!

Damn, I'm going to have to go and read that again! He was such a fabulous character, and I can very much see Crowe as him, especially after watching American Gangster (what? like a billion times?)...

Thank you for your words, lady.
Ditto to you.

And, YES, about mature actresses. The ones you mentioned are among the most beautiful women in the world. They do NOT all look alike but are wonderfully unique.


H.B. Pattskyn said...

Brilliantly put. I read a romance novel once where *everybody*, even the secretary named Dalphinia (Dalph for short) was young, built, and drop dead Victoria Secret model gorgeous. Everybody. After a while, I wondered where the author had hidden all the "real" people. Ultimately, it left caring less about these people, because I couldn't relate to a single one of them.

Let's hear it for the authors who give us real people in their stories, people us real people can relate to!

C. Zampa said...

Welcome, HB!

OMG, I can't bear stories like you described, where everyone of the characters is a fashion model.

Reminds me of the old night time soap opera, Dynasty. Everyone was beautiful, everyone dressed to the nines, even the lesser characters. LOL...I don't think I'd even want to live in a world like that.

And like you...yes to the real people! May we see many of them!

Sarah Ballance said...

I may not be old to most, but after having six kids I can really appreciate your feelings on flaws and perfection. Thank you! LOL.

C. Zampa said...

Hey, Sarah!

Good point. Life in general just has effects on us, whether we like it or not.

Thank you for visiting! Hugs!

DawnsReadingNook said...

Hear, Russell and find him very sexy...even as he ages. I think, IMHO, he ages like a fine wine. :-)

Great post Carol.

C. Zampa said...

Hey there, Dawn Roberto!
Oh, Russell sure DOES age like fine wine. Always loved him, always will.
Good to see you, sweets!