by Teresa Noelle Roberts
Long before puberty, I was enamoured with the brave men and fierce women who inhabit the worlds depicted in fantasy novels and movies. Brawny barbarians, elegant sorceresses, wily wizards, valiant knights, sardonic swordsmen and warrior women who quipped in the face of death? Elves, dwarves, hobbits, and other fascinating non-humans? I reveled in it all as an escape from life as a shy, bookish kid without a valiant bone in her clumsy body.
After puberty, my thoughts about my favorite fantasy heroes and heroines changed a bit. I didn’t just want to share their adventures. In some cases, I wanted to have adventures with them, if you know what I mean.
Take the Lord of the Rings series. Tolkien’s Eówyn was my first girl-crush, although I didn’t have words for it until many years after I first read the books. Miranda Otto’s beauty and gravitas reawakened that crush in the movies, and now I have words for it. And very explicit mental images.
Aragorn, with his heroism, his fateful destiny, and his seemingly doomed cross-species love, also got under my teenage skin. Why couldn’t he love a nice human girl, like Eówyn, or better yet, me? Thinking “Why not both of us, and I could take the middle? And Arwen could come play sometime when she wasn’t too busy being all otherworldly” was a little advanced for my teenage years, but once again the movie versions of the book reawakened old literary crushes in much more grown-up ways. Sandwiched between Viggo and Miranda—yum!
Oh, heck, bring on most of the Fellowship! Between the ones whose characters I love (Sam might be on the short and round side, but I have a feeling he’d be fun, even with that service-oriented d/s thing he has going with Frodo) and the ones who are pure sex on a stick (Boromir didn’t seem like crush material until I saw him played by Sean Bean, but for Sean, I’ll forgive a few tragic flaws. And consider Legolas—body of a buff college student, two thousand years of experience!) it could be quite a party.
But I don’t confine my fantasy-fantasies to the Lord of the Rings. One of my early crushes was Robin Hood, and once I grew up a bit, I got all sorts of interesting ideas about “Merry Men”—some hotly homoerotic, some about what a lucky, lucky girl Marian was, alone in Sherwood Forest with all those men in tights. Leaving aside smutty thoughts (yes, I can do that sometimes), I love the Robin Hood legend to this day. I’ve enjoyed all the film incarnations I’ve seen, from Errol Flynn to Michael Praed, who was, in my opinion, the hottest Robin Hood ever. (And his Robin of Sherwood had Herne the Hunter in it, which moves it from historical fantasy into mythology, which is interesting even to me.) And the somewhat obscure 1991 Robin Hood featured the ever-intriguing Uma Thurman as a butt-kicking and fun Marian. (I haven’t seen the most recent BBC series yet, though. Netflix time!)
Heck, I even loved Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves because it’s Robin Hood, even though it was silly and Kevin Costner, while not unattractive, was entirely wrong for the part.
Of course, that might have had something to do with Alan Rickman’s Sheriff of Nottingham. Yummy, campy evil with a voice like silk: He can take me captive and do terrible things to me any time.
The Arthurian legends? Who hasn’t daydreamed at some point about being swept away to Camelot and all the hunks of the Round Table? As a young woman, I wept buckets—and fantasized copioiusly—about the tragic love triangle at the center of the legends. Lucky Guinevere to have two such amazing men as Arthur and Lancelot in her life, even if it ended horridly! Now, I get annoyed, thinking that before they tore a kingdom apart when they obviously all loved one another, they should have tried poly. Less tragic, and much sexier.
Barbarians? Those who’ve read Lady Sun Has Risen know one of my guilty pleasures is the dominant, underclad, totally politically incorrect barbarian hero. You wouldn’t want one around full-time, but the women they kidnap always end up looking bonelessly happy. It’s the sword-wielding and the alpha quality that gets to me, not the big muscles—Arnold Schwarzenagger didn’t appeal to me in any other roles, but as Conan? Whew! I have a huge weakness for barbarian movies, from The Scorpion King to the Conan epics to the really cheesy ones like Kull the Conqueror (both Kevin Sorbo and Tia Carrere are lovely creatures, whether they can act or not) and The Barbarians. I saw the latter with my gay best friend, both of us laughing our butts off and still getting kind of hot and bothered. It was in Spanish with no subtitles and you know what? It made absolutely no difference. The whole point was brawny, heroic alpha males wearing very little.
And finally, I’m putting in a picture just for Dayle. I never saw the TV fantasy spoof Wizards and Warriors, which came and went while I was in college in a place where TV reception was non-existent. Dayle has fond memories of the evil Prince Dirk Blackpool, though, and just because I love her…here’s a picture! Hey, he’s pretty sexy. Between him and several shady characters played by Alan Rickman, maybe we need to revisit the theme of Hot Evil…
Note: The Arthurian illustration is by Howard David Johnson and can be found here.