ONCE A MONTH or so, The Weeklings editors are each required to respond to a single cultural question in this wildly popular parlor game. Music, movies, television, books, dance, sex, sports, art, and death are all up for grabs. There are no correct answers, no political correctness allowed, and only one rule: sheer, brute honesty.
As always, please, no wagering.
“The Molly Ringwald Evolutionary Trio: What celebrity did you desperately want to have sex with at three different ages–sixteen, twenty-one, and then thirty?”
Bad little girls want to fuck their friend’s dads and Burt Reynolds and Harrison Ford were those men who would cook my bacon right, save the world and make me scream all Indiana Jones and Han Solo style. By twenty-one, I wanted to cuddle with Kurt Cobain and fuck Patty Smith, an odd coupling, but I was an odd twenty-one year old who was fascinated with powders, queerness and grunge glam. By thirty, I was hopelessly devoted to narcissistic alchies like tore up from the floor up Billy Bob Thorton and Robert Downey Junior: the thinking sluts bad boy. But the one celeb who had staying power: from age ten onwards was Bowie. He is the alpha and the omega.
I more than wanted to have sex with Sean Young’s replicant in Blade Runner at the age of 16, I wanted to marry her, fly through the mountains in a futuristic helicopter together, smoke cigarettes and have important discussions about ABSCAM and incept dates, and then maybe catch a French film. And although I also wanted to have sex with Ms. Young’s character in Stripes and later in Dune, those instances were mostly about mere attractiveness. Blade Runner was different. There was just something about the glacial iciness of the android Rachael and her utter disdain for Harrison Ford that suffused me with the kind of lust that only a rural teen groper can muster. At 21 I had mostly lapsed out of my Edie Sedgewick period (too inert) and had also recently jettisoned Claudia Cardinale (too Italian), Annabella from Bow Wow Wow (too Mohawkish), Peter O’Toole (possibly the most beautiful of them all, but too gender-reassignment) and Samantha Eggar (too obscure). So I’d have to go with Uma Thurman in Dangerous Liaisons. I’d never heard of her or seen her before catching a matinee of Les Liaisons, and for months after remained highly suspect of John Malkovitch’s ability to complete her training nearly as effectively as I could. It didn’t last long, though. By Henry & June, Uma and I were on the rocks. She got the furniture and the car, I got the vinyl. At 30 I somehow became a sucker for nostalgia and went back to my roots, falling in love with the Bangles’ Susannah Hoffs all over again. I should add that I spent all of the 80s and 90s not wanting to have sex with Glenn Close.
I never “desperately” wanted to have sex with anyone in a movie. That would reaaaallllly be breaking the fourth wall. My reaction is more like when my nine-year-old son sees the girl he likes and he blushes and runs away. The three: Winona Ryder in Heathers (I’m 16; she is 17), Winona Ryder in Reality Bites (I’m 22; she is 23), and Winona Ryder in those photos of her in court after getting arrested for shoplifting (I’m 29; she is 30). I’m nothing if not consistent.
At 16 I was all about Bjorn Borg. Enigmatic Swede plus tennis player plus golden thighs made for a potent combination. He tweaked my own Nordic roots—clearly we belonged together in some ancestral realm. Breakfast at Wimbledon became an exercise in studying his magnificent ground strokes as well as his physique. Girls could objectify just as ferociously as boys. I liked Bjorn’s tall, lean build, strong but not too brawny, just inching towards gangly. The simmering reserve was equally attractive, and confounding too. Was he shy or possibly dumb? I didn’t care, and his English was limited anyway. By 21 I’d moved on to William Hurt. The thinking woman’s whatever. I liked his enunciation, his awkward gait. Sex with him would be exacting with a touch of the mind-fuck, intense and doomed. Then when I was 30-ish, Billy Crudup started hanging around. He starred in the film adaptation of Denis Johnson’s book Jesus’ Son. A long-haired, soulful fuck-up, he was short and I was tall but we could make that work somehow. I went to a screening of the movie, saw him there in person, and he was still attractive in real life, shooting off electric sparks. But short. Very short. Still, I could make it work if it came to that.
When I turned sixteen, I was chasing debutantes, really nothing other than celebrities of the blue blood set. I taught one how to smoke and another how to ride the bus whilst deep in the throes of weed psychosis. Another brought me along when she would outrun Baltimore Police in her tan Honda Accord. By twenty-one, I’d moved to New Orleans, and just as single-mindedly, yearned for a certain group of French Quarter bartenders. They were the celebrities of my small world. The selectors, deliverers of good times, the ones who plied your palms with singles and pushed you toward the jukebox because you knew which songs made them wag their fannies. One was English, another came from San Francisco, another had corkscrew red hair. And each one of them meant something to me in the thrum of desire, much more than any Molly Ringwald could. But when I turned thirty, that was it. I’d quit the drugs and the drinking and there wasn’t any use in continuing the fantasy. I’d been doing that for years. So, probably Duke (Dick Rude-eds) from Repo Man.
I never identified with Molly Ringwald. I identified more with Emilio Estevez. Not because I’m gay but because she was so girly. I can’t isolate it to three people: What’s the point in being monogamous about celebrities you wish you could fuck? Got to keep your options open. At 16 I wanted to have sex with George Harrison. Or James Taylor. Neither one was perfect, but I liked tall dark and brooding. George Harrison was a tad spiritual but looked great barefoot in white suits. James Taylor — that voice was like summer sex. By 21 I was deep into buzz cuts and edgy maniacs who wore thrift shop old man clothing — well tailored, but with irony. I had lustful crushes on Ranking Rodger from the Specials, Chris Brokaw (we played in the same band for a minute), Prince (how could you not want to fuck Prince), John Lurie — those cheekbones, that pout. The way Jim Jarmusch filmed him made me want to fuck him: all that deadpan about nothing somehow meant so much. Also, Christopher Walken, the hipster’s Fred Astaire, though I knew someone who slept with him and she was way prettier than I was, so I figured I was out of luck. I tried to be realistic in my crushes. There were crushes on women, more adoration than pure lust, except for Grace Jones who I wanted bad, vividly. At 30, Denzel Washington: He was so fucking smart. Such a smooth talker. Very fuckworthy. Seemed privately wild. And a grownup. Someone you could fuck and also marry. But I still had that old crush on John Lurie, and then I met him. I felt my heart stop but by then I was with someone else. See? Better to have lots of stars to dream about.
Summer ’86. I had just turned 16 which meant I could drive which meant I could go on dates which meant I could finally get laid! Well, I went to a lot of movies, anyway. And I fell in love one night. Not with my date, but with the woman on the screen (unfortunately for my date, unfortunately for me). Sigourney Weaver, I mean Ellen Ripley. Of course I’d seen her years before in the immortal Alien, but I wouldn’t have known what to do with her, then (I wouldn’t know what to do with her, now). But, I figured, if Ripley could save the human race, she certainly could find time to offer me some sexual salvation. Understanding the difference between wanting sex and having sex is something almost every 16 year old boy is a reluctant expert at; the difference between needing sex and having sex is something almost every man spends the rest of his life acknowledging. By 21 I had learned a thing or two. I had also made up for lost time, sexually speaking, exorcising the demons of the repressed Catholic kid I had unwittingly become. As such, I knew I was ready for a woman with experience, like Susan Sarandon. From the first time I watched Atlantic City on my Betamax (when we watched movies the way we masturbated: in analog), not really appreciating the plot but causing me to wish I was a sliced lemon so I could get closer to those impeccable, impossible breasts. Louise never would have careened over that cliff if she’d had me, Cliffs Notes in one hand, lukewarm PBR in the other, waiting on my student apartment futon. By 31 I’d been there, done that, at least figuratively speaking. I was already a lost cause, a sad clown whose fate lay in recognizing all his soul mates had been born before his time (or had never been born at all, literally speaking). Still, perhaps because we long most for what we can never attain, I carried a tragic-comic torch for Faye Dunaway. Back to the future: 1967, Bonnie Parker, the perfect woman. Did any actress ever look as good in any movie? Not for all the money I don’t have in my bank account. And even though I wasn’t as exciting or nearly as pretty as Warren Beatty, I understood her pain. I could give her what she really needed (sorry, Clyde); I could help her help herself. I could help her help myself. Or something. I suspected, then, and know, now, that like me, she was simply searching for something she couldn’t find, something she could never have.
Hmm, I have trouble remembering last week, let alone 10 plus years ago. At sixteen, I was becoming heavily involved with the heavy metal scene. I feel in love-lust with Joey DeMaio from Manowar. He had the super long hair, the muscle, and the sheer arrogance that made me want him to throw me down and do whatever. At 21, again this is tricky. I would say maybe Alan Rickman a la his Professor Snape character from the Harry Potter series. He can call me a ’silly girl’ in his derisive accent any time. (Clearly I have a type.) Since I am not yet 30, I can only say who I would desperately want to have sex with now at the age of almost 26. That would probably have to be Kevin Spacey in his House of Cards character Frank Underwood for the world’s best hate sex ever.
My impulse response would be: Stevie Nicks, baby. Sixteen, twenty-one, thirty. But that wouldn’t be entirely true. It wouldn’t be sex I was longing for but rather transcendence and Stevie in the flesh would only let me down. It’s everything Stevie symbolizes, Gold Dust Women and Silver Springs. Stars on the water and midnight rising through the trees. But that isn’t sex, it’s the power of wish and transcendence and you will never, ever break that chain. You will never stop wanting those things. It troubles me that we can safely assume all the editors here are over thirty. What does that say about us? What does that say about writing? Aren’t we all upstarts? Aren’t we all still looking to make our way? What was the question? Oh yeah, celebrity sexual fantasies over different stages of life. Well, it so happens I obsessively studied that sort of thing in grad school, behavioral psychology and sex therapy and such. The cultish lure of celebrity and subliminally sexual advertising. At sixteen? Probably Drew Barrymore. 21? Tori Amos, maybe? At thirty? Did we really want to have sexual relations with these celebrities or did we want them to fix us, to save us, to make us feel right and not so ugly and messed-up? The answer is yes: we thought for sure that that divine celebrity sex would save us and make us feel right. Until we were thirty. By then we knew. I don’t think I ever could imagine being intimate with Molly Ringwald. Molly Ringwald was like your friend’s big sister or that girl who you really just liked as a friend. Like really. In fact, I had a friend girl that looked a lot like Molly. We snuck onto the junior high playground one night and she tried to kiss me on the slide and before I could edit myself I said, “Whoa, girl. Uh, no way.”