No news in the past few months, not the rumors about Sarah Palin’s coke-snorting and sexcapades, not bull semen on the highway, not even Chaz Bono on Dancing with the Stars, has made me as happy as Gerard Depardieu’s airplane peeing incident — mainly because it’s kept Monsieur Depardieu in the news. Whether it’s his own video parody, Anderson Cooper’s giggle fest or his hilarious interview with Cooper in response to same, the steady stream of Depardieu has seriously — and serendipitously — brightened up my summer. Je l’aime. Gerard Depardieu is hot.
You heard me: you can keep yer Ryan Goslings, Bradley Coopers and Clooney-Pitt-Pattensons: the 62 year-old with his prostate problem, humor and legendary career make me melt like a little knob of butter on top of a big, hot baguette. True, I’m old enough to remember his younger, heart-throbbier days (like his US debut in Green Card, when Roger Ebert called him “a large, shaggy, untidy man who brings to every role a kind of effortless charm,”) but it wasn’t until April — shortly before the piss heard round the world — that I really got knocked in the head by the Depardieu mystique. It was at the Florida Film Festival’s press screening of Potiche, which brought he and Catherine Deneuve together (for the many-eth time). Suddenly — pow! — his charisma shone brighter through a face that had aged 20 years than it had, at least to me, in the spring of youth. Maybe it was the relaxing joy of seeing a handsome, familiar face (like when you see an ex — til you remember why they’re an ex); maybe it was the hearth-throb mellowed into a reassuring older man but it took two seconds for me to dissolve into the glorious idiocy of attraction. Some diabolical mix of Paris Hilton and Butthead had hijacked my formerly articulate inner voice and all I could think was “That’s hot.”
That’s how it happens in real life, too. For all we know about scent, symmetry and the chemistry of love and lust, why that one person hits us just right on that one day — even if we’ve seen them a hundred times before — remains largely, and quite wonderfully, I think, a mystery. The mainstream media shows us a few people a year we’re meant to fall all over, but mere aesthetics is a far cry from visceral attraction, that sudden frisson that can arrest your thoughts make you step lighter for days…weeks, if they are famous and take an unauthorized pee in an aircraft.
You never can tell who’s gonna getcha and out of curiosity to know what other celebrities - who aren’t garden-variety sex symbols - other people thought were sexy I took an informal survey of the question on Facebook.
The answers were as all-over-the-map as a spilled Coke.
In just a few hours I got a list that included Marilyn Manson, Eddie Izzard, Oliver Platt, Rudy Giuliani, Lily Taylor, Monique, Charles Bronson, Sammy Hagar, Tyler Perry (as himself and Madea), Wendy Liebman, Margaret Dumont, Amanda Plummer, Geoffrey Rush, Benicio del Toro (second) Monica Lewinsky, James Gandolfini, Leslie Feist, Matt Smith, Rachel Maddow, Queen Latifah, Reece Shearsmith, Anne Burrel, Jim Gaffigan and — I do love people who get specific — “Graham Kerr circa 1970” and ‘Rosie O’Donnell as Betty Rubble.’ Anyone looking to homogenize their features should know that noses were big: Bill Maher (with specific mention of nose size), Pete Townsend, Howard Stern and John Turturro were cited as dream material; those who got more than once vote were Willem Defoe, Tom Brokaw, Rainn Wilson, Alan Alda, Steve Buscemi, Janeane Garofalo, Martha Stewart and Anthony Bourdain (even in their imaginations people clearly prefer a good cook).
I have no reason to think anyone who answered was lying…not even the girl who said “Jesus,” and cited his steady job (carpenter) as a plus.
Ain’t it grand? And encouraging? The lavishly varied nature of the people’s unique turn-ons (whether it’s latex or Tom Brokaw) is a turn-on to me in itself (and one of the reasons I’ve been writing about this kind of thing for some time). For all the propaganda we get in favor of Xeroxed looks what we actually like is as diverse as nature… and maybe that’s why nature offers so much diversity. So if you ever feel low because you’re not one of the world’s six (of six billion) beautiful people, think about the gulf between Steve Buscemi and Madea: unless you’re a whole new life form, you’re in that mix and somebody digs it.
So let the mystery continue. In fact, the only bum thing about the mystery of attraction is that it doesn’t know it’s supposed to wrap up in 48 minutes, like House, or 200 pages, like an Agatha Christie. And while I’m waiting for my next real-life hypno-male to come along, I hope Mr. Depardieu will get another Oscar nomination or make another film here or run off with some 80’s lite metal guitarist, something that will keep him in the news for some time to come. Reality takes forever to unfold but thanks to fate …and one uncompromising flight attendant… I have a pleasant tide-over. I just want it to last.