I’m counting down the lucky ten who made the 2015 Compendium of Swoonworthy Men, which is an incredibly prestigious and important honor that will probably go down as one of the top three things the honorees have every accomplished! Or it would, if they either weren’t dead/knew that it exists! You can check out numbers Ten through Eight here and numbers Seven through Five here.
2015 Compendium of Swoonworthy Men
Number Four: Clark Gable
And here, cretins, is how I can prove that being a weird kid inevitably pays off. Sure, crushing on a movie star who’d been dead for thirty some years in my early adolescence may have alienated me from my peers somewhat. I had little to offer in lunchroom conversations about, say which cast member of Beverly Hills, 90210 was likely to be the best kisser or which was my Corey of choice. (Fun fact: I once filled in all the male celebrity blanks on my Girl Talk board game fortune cards with “Tom Hanks,” because I literally couldn’t think of any other (living and not now extraordinarily elderly) male celebrities my (non-existent) friends attending my (never happening) slumber parties might know, and also I had just seen A League of their Own, so. Tom Hanks).
But now, while my peers moan and bury cover their faces with their hair while admitting their juvenile crushes on say, Vanilla Ice or Joey Lawrence, I can look really smug and say, “Actually, I rather fancied Clark Gable when I was a nubile young thing,” and I sound completely cool and not at all insufferable.
Clark Gable was undeniably a beautiful man, but for me I think my attraction lay mostly in what he represented. He was undisputed King of Hollywood, the poster boy for the golden days of the movies. He was also incredibly down to earth, once famously saying, “This King stuff is pure bullshit. I eat and drink and go to the bathroom just like everybody else.” He certainly was not one to take himself very seriously.
Onscreen, Gable was paired with the women who represented the thing I most wanted to be in the world as a young girl – a dame. A dame who raised one eyebrow like Vivien Leigh, who owned her body like Jean Harlow, who wisecracked like Rosalind Russell and Ava Gardner. Dames didn’t take shit from nobody. Dames were loud, and funny, and made no apologies for who they were. He married the damiest dame of all time – Carole Lombard – and was by all accounts devastated by her tragic death.
Clark Gable was a man who appreciated dames. Swoonworthy, indeed.
Number Three: Michael J. Nelson
In 1998, I wasn’t particularly sure of where I was going to college, but I knew where I wanted to be an intern: I wanted to go to Eden Prairie, Minnesota, to work on Mystery Science Theatre 3000. (It didn’t happen – the show ended before I had even picked a school. You can still get your MST3K fix, though, thanks to Rifftrax).
If you haven’t seen MST3K I….don’t know what to say to you, really, except that you should watch it. MST3K, which featured a man stuck in space making fun of terrible movies with the two robots he’d built for company, was (and still is) some of the most clever and most brilliantly written comedy I’ve ever seen. Mike Nelson was the head writer, and eventually host of the show, and there’s something about his kind eyes and easy smile combined with his incredibly sharp sense of humor that’s extremely endearing. Also, for ten glorious months in 2007, I was number four on Mike Nelson’s MySpace Top Eight. (And yes, that’s when you could arrange your own top eight). Many, many people were pretty impressed. (No one was at all impressed).
The gorgeous hands don’t hurt either.
Number Two: Joey Ramone
Oh, Joey. Joey Ramoney.
I have been more or less in love with Joey Ramone since I was about five and saw Rock and Roll High School. I realized I liked boys when I saw Joey Ramone sitting in the back of a pink Cadillac singing “I Just Wanna Have Something to Do” into a piece of chicken. It’s also entirely probable that Joey Ramone is likely responsible for the vast majority of this list being made up of slender, slightly awkward, dark-haired, long legged men with full lips and beautiful hands.
Joey had his demons. It’s well known now that he suffered from a vast array of illnesses, including extreme, crippling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and the lymphoma that eventually killed him. He checked himself into a psychiatric hospital as a teenager, which took an incredible amount of courage in a time when psychiatric diseases were very poorly understood. The love of his life left him for Johnny Ramone, who was (let’s admit it) a bit of a dick.
That drove him to substance abuse, but he bounced back and was very close to another woman for the rest of his life, even becoming godfather to her daughter.
Joey Ramone deeply understood what it felt like to be lonely and alienated.
And he could have let all of that define who he was. I don’t think anyone would have blamed him if he did. But he didn’t. He decided to redefine what a rock star was instead.
Also: he liked cats.
He was basically the best.
So….who’s in the Number One spot? Tune in tomorrow for the thrilling conclusion!