Sexy: Quantifiable? Bogart to the Rescue

Every day, somebody somewhere sputters, “They ain’t makin’ ‘em like they usedta.”

And this is true. So, there I was, watching The Maltese Falcon, thinking about what it is about Bogey that gets me hot and bothered every single goddamned time. See, a guy recently emailed me to lightly chastise me for erroneously attributing the “When you’re slapped, you’ll take it and like it,” line of Bogey’s to him making Peter Lorre his bitch. (It has been at the bottom of this blog’s sidebar since day one, the bottom of my original blog’s sidebar, too.) I told him I thought I was right, and just moved on (and, yes, I am right). Today, I dug out the disc and began watching it, savouring the flick along with my toasted and buttered peasant bread, and dank, dank New Zealand cheddar, and dark coffee.

And just like the butter, I slowly melted as I watched Bogey; lying there on the floor, longing for a man who has that same mix of brashness and humour and sensitivity and lust and brood to step out of the shadows to a saxophone soundtrack playing behind the scenes in my life.

Goddamned right they ain’t making them like they used to. They’ve never made ‘em like Bogey. It’s a fucking crime his career wasn’t longer.

What makes him sexy? Scratch that. What is sexy? What is it that turns us on and keeps us revving? How do we define an idea, an intangible? For some women, it’s a guy wearing only a jock under seersucker pants. For others, it’s cracked and aged black leather paired with jeans and a wife-beater and topped with stubble (sigh). For still more, it’s that metrosexual gleam that comes from the coif and the couture.

But Bogey, he had none of that. A face like a weathered horse, the man was no Errol Flynn. His voice had that gravelly vocal twang and he always had that inimitable sparkle in his eye when he grinned or leered. He oozed sexuality in a time of repression, and because he didn’t have the lustful good looks of the A-List stars, he got away with it. He was an average guy that could eyeball a woman in a way that conveyed exactly the kind of confident and daring lover you knew he’d be. You just knew he’d pin you against the wall and devour you. You knew he’d be as comfortable submitting to you as dominating you. It just showed.

There’s something about the way a man can unapologetically own a woman through his looks (or vice versa), yet offer no intimidation by ever even suggesting it’s about ownership. There’s something about expressing lust through your eyes – real, true, now-here, for-as-long-as-we-can lust. And Bogey broke the ground and set the pace for an entire legion of men who’d grow up wanting to have what he exemplified. Bogey set a new standard for sexy, something we’re still trying to figure out in this day and age of plastic surgery and air-brushing, and something we keep missing the mark of.

It’s not about the dimples, the white teeth, the hard body, the fine coif. It’s about you knowing what you want and knowing how to show it. It’s about learning how to communicate with your eyes, with your lips, with your words, with your body language. How to think something like, “I’d love to throw you down and keep you there until we’re both utterly spent and gasping in musky pools of our own sweat” and let it be read only through your eyes and the purse of your lips.

And Bogey, he had that. Throw into it the ability to adopt dozens of different smiles, the coy mannerisms of his foot shuffle, his playful body language and suggestive head tilts, the way he searched a room or his scene’s companion for changes in mood and worked with it, and that incredible focus he had in his gaze, and the guy could be 5’1 and a buck-10, and he’d still have the sex appeal of an animal. Some guys just have it, and Bogey, he did.

I’ve known a couple guys who had it, and to this day I see their faces in my mind some nights when I’m alone, or even with a man. They’re always unforgettable, those guys, but it’s that gleam in the eye you remember. Yep. There’s something about a gleam… and it’s one of the reasons leaving the lights on during sex is so fucking hot. Too many of us can’t muster that gleam outside the act itself, so leaving the lights enables you to see your lover drinking you in like that… well, mm, there’s not many images that you just want to freeze-frame forever, but that’s sure as hell one of them.

Me, I’m very conscious of how and what I emote with my eyes. There are guys who set my eyes a blazin’ and I make a point of letting that show. Those nights, I don’t even have to mention that sex is on the mind, it’s just that damned obvious. It’s not needy or desperate, it’s confident and suggestive. You don’t even have to say the words. It’s like seeing a movie with a great director pulling the strings, some things are left unsaid but are unmistakably clear in intent. It’s fucking hot, whoever’s doing it, and it’s part of what defines sexy. Knowing what you want, and being ballsy enough to show it. Or just damned well taking it (when consent is obvious).

When it comes to men, it’s a pity there aren’t more Bogeys. Or Js. Or Clints. Or Newmans. Or Depps. Sure, the latter are pretty boys, but it’s more than that. They discovered sexy, what it really means, what it really is. That it’s a quality, not a look, not an image, not a brand name. It’s just a thing inside you that you learn to put on display, and it’s uniquely you, whatever it is. You find your way to that place, that confident spot, and it compensates immeasurably. It just shows.