Much has been written about what makes a ladies’ man but so far the formula escapes adequate definition. The reason? “Because it tries to be done with words. The purpose of words is to communicate and not to define. For example, all of us have seen a couple who are unquestionably in love but then try, using words, to define that love. Then try happiness!
I recently discovered in my files a book review of Swoon by Larry Getlen authored by Betsy Prioleau.* (http://nypost.com/2013/02/03/secrets-of-a-don-juan/) It deals with the characteristics of irresistible male seducers and why women love and go crazy over them. Judging by its content this is probably the most exhaustive and in depth analysis of this subject. There are 65 pages of footnotes!
Her general description of such men is, “They seduce us out of our skins and catapult us into another world.” Regarding the specific characteristic of these seducers, her list is long beginning on the genetic level claiming they have more female DNA than ordinary men. She writes that women love good dressers, cooks and dancers and particularly guys who are musically talented. They have a quality that would bypass women’s affinity for good looks and wealth. She believes that this quality is located in a specific creative, artistic part of the male brain. It’s probable that Warren Beatty developed this gift of appreciating and understanding females when he was reared “in a hothouse of strong, doting women- sister, aunt and mother…” She ventures into interesting territory by claiming that male seducers have androgynous or bisexual tendencies which women sense sending a message to them that this quality helps the seducer better understand the female mind. Interestingly enough, she singles out Gary Cooper, the tough, courageous Wild West film cowboy character as having this bisexual quality. Male vulnerability or “flawed manhood”, a combination of vulnerability and strength, is high on her list using Jack Nicholson and Richard Burton as examples.
One of Ms. Prioleau’s great seducer characters particularly struck me. It’s the very ugly but very dynamic Italian poet, Gabriele D’Annunzio. His physical appearance was universally considered “repellent” to the women of his day. She described him as , “… a sad physical specimen… short, bald and ugly , with unhealthy teeth, fat legs, wide hips, hooded eyes, pallid lips and thick mottled skin.” I searched for his photo in cyberspace- and the women were correct! But when he spoke and after hearing the sound of his voice and beholding his sensual body language, the women immediately succumbed to his charms; and when he made love to them they went bananas and frequently fell in love. She describes his voice as “soft, subtle and velvety.” Women found him “devastating” and “…following him around Europe pouring out passionate declarations, abandoning families and twice offering him a fortune for his favors.” He was “a Michelangelo of oral pleasure who “fondled eyelids with his tongue” and planted stinging kisses “from the neck to the genitals over long nights where women were sexually overwhelmed by this man.”
Most of you who follow me already know that I would call G for his opinion on the book.
“Mamma mia! Ms. Prioleau really covered the waterfront. Did you know she wrote another book, Seductress? That’s the one I want to read and give to some of the modern women whom I’m meeting!
“First, I was intrigued by D’Annunzio kissing eyelids. I remember one lady asked me to do so but my memory is fuzzy on what happened. But I certainly missed out on that interesting approach. When there’s still time left, and if I’m still capable, maybe I’ll give it a try.
“Let me make some comments some of which may be in the book but not in the review. Regarding why vulnerability attracts women, and I can vouch for that, I’ve thought about that in the past and believe it’s due to the inherent, beautiful female mother instinct. The art of a seducer is to make a woman both relaxed and excited at the same time. In addition, though I’ve never seen it mentioned, an unappreciated crucial factor is to make her very curious. She can’t wait to find out what’s ahead but feels this way only if she’s convinced that he’s sincerely interested in knowing about and being with her. Ms. Prioleau rightly mentions that these men are not misogynists but enjoy being with women. I would go along with that very important observation. The French philosopher and adventurer, Albert Camus, said that he had more women friends than men. I did – and still do-and also learned more from them about the social aspects of life than from men.
“Here’s a huge factor that’s linked to a woman’s curiosity but has a more adventurous quality about it. It’s unpredictability. More than a few women told me that’s one of my, let’s say, alluring traits.
“Lorenzo, I’m running out of gas but here’s one essential ingredient of a ladies’ man. It’s the voice. It’s not only what you say but a la Gabriele D’Annunzio, it’s how you say it.”
I then asked him for a term which describes the seducer but G told me it doesn’t exist. I mentioned to him that we have seen the qualities that make a male seducer and whether all of these are necessary. G answered, “No way. Look, I didn’t kiss eyelids- at least as far as I can remember. There is no term for it. It’s not “chemistry” for that term is usually reserved for a single couple on their way to becoming engaged or already married. Strangely enough, we have names for nymphomaniacs, sadists and all the others but no term regarding the great male seducer whom women love.”
Our conversation ended. I then lighted my pipe, poured myself a martini, had an inspirational moment and smiled. I reasoned that in sexual matters we have names or labels of the condition and the person who performs the act. For example, we have masochism and masochists. This is not so in the with ladies men, and it’s time we do so. How about G-ism and the G-man?
*Every morning I read the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and New York Post. I read journals on public policy, politics, social issues, medicine and science leaving me little time for books. During the past year I read short biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Winston Churchill- two very humbling experiences. Because of the death of J.D. Salinger and curiosity, I also read Catcher in the Rye and wondered about it. Swoon is now on my reading list!
The recently released book, Nicholson: A Biography and authored by Marc Elliot, was reviewed in the New York Post by Larry Getlen. (LINK- http://nypost.com/2013/11/02/jack-nicholson-horndog-for-all-seasons/) He writes that Jack Nicholson “… was an unparalleled ladies man who often had a frenzied effect on women.” He and his famous buddies often traded Hollywood beauties between them. In casting for a movie nudity scene, he personally “interviewed” about 100 young ladies who were required to disrobe in front of him in his office in order for him to determine if they had the right credentials for the part. As we say in clinical studies, “That is a large sample size!”
Anjelica Houston, Madonna, Meryl Streep, Joni Mitchell, Julie Delpy and Melanie Griffith were cited as a small slice of a much larger pie of his lady largesse. The following vignette really tickled my cerebral humor zone: After he was interviewed by a young French lady journalist, he said, “I would have tried to have intimate knowledge of you.” She replied, “Twenty years ago you tried to fuck my mother.”
Despite his problem with weight, premature ejaculation and baldness, he managed to keep moving forward with his ladies. I understand that he was a great fan of recreational drugs.
I was curious what G’s take would be on Nicholson and asked him to read the review. He did, called me and the first thing he said, “ Boy, now and then I wonder how guys like these – Sinatra , Brando and Presley and all these lust for life guys- handle their ladies not in quiet chambers of love but in tumultuous and continuing affairs. But women love these guys and put a lot of almost irresistible sexual pressure on them. I just read about Usain Bolt from Jamaica, the world’s fastest running sprinter. After he became an overnight celebrity, he claims that ladies threw themselves at him, and he could get any woman that he wanted in the sack.
I remember very well that when I was a young doctor I was invited by a young lady “of influence” to hear Frank Sinatra sing at Skinny D’Amato’s legendary 500 Club in Atlantic City. The ladies went wildly bananas over him and I, for the first time, experienced the power of male celebrity status’s impact on women’s willingness to copulate with such men. As an aside, I was invited to his dressing room after the performance, and I’ll never forget those eyes. You old timers may remember that he was called “Blue eyes.” His eyes certainly merited that description. They were impressively blue. We chatted for a short time, and he was very gracious. After I left I wondered how he or anyone else could handle a world of constant adulation.
Returning to G, I asked him what the difference between him and Nicholson is. “Lorenzo, before I answer you, I’ve got to tell you something you’re not going to believe. Nicholson and I are about the same age. For a number of years I was frequently taken for him even at restaurants where I played the role and got special VIP service. For example, one afternoon I was in Washington Square walking with a famous Italian entrepreneur, when I was suddenly surrounded by a group of college students virtually imploring me for my autograph. Though I hadn’t the slightest idea what that was all about , I scribbled my name in an illegible way. At the end of the session one of the polite students said, “Thanks, Mr. Nicholson.
Getting back to the differences- a world! Remember, Lorenzo, I enjoyed my women for mostly single day encounters and almost all were pleasant and even beautiful. There was little or no pain. Even when I was held hostage by a nymphomaniac, as described in the book, it wasn’t painful but adventurous. This guy gets involved in all kinds of long time affairs many of which are painful. For example, in the book review it’s mentioned that the husband of a lady who Jack was bedding with was extremely jealous. Nicholson was so scared out of his pants that he slept with a hammer under his pillow in case the guy showed up for revenge purposes. That’s not my style for I hate to suffer or see others suffer. Guys like this are like the ones that dare to climb Mount Everest. They seek adventure and are , in a unique kind of way, sado masochistic, and women are crazy about them. In a sense, Casanova was that way.”
“ G, why do the ladies go for these guys? Is it because they are famous?”
“The celebrity factor is part of it, but you can’t conceive of gals going bananas over Abbott or Costello or former President, Jimmy Carter. These guys like Warren Beatty have the gift of those x-factors of understanding what a woman’s all about which I also talk about in the book.”
“One last point: You had the ability to have long-term relationships with a number of women. Why didn’t you do it?”
“Lorenzo, as I said before, I don’t like to suffer, and those guys do. Of course, there are other reasons but that’s between me and the gods above.”