Bad Boys, Bad Boys, what you gonna do? What you gonna do when they come for you?
(Well, if you don’t know by now, I’m sure there’s a few good books on this site with suggestions..)
In coming up with the characters for Southern Spirits, specifically the two bad guys – the charismatic con man Jack Wheeler and the laconic, possessive gangster Mickey Whisper – I started looking for inspiration in the bad guys I’d read and watched, the ones that got me and others hot, and why it was so.
I mean, we all know that in just about every good story, the villain is more interesting than the hero, more interesting to watch, to read about, and certainly to write about (and any attempt to make the hero more interesting usually involved imbuing his background or character with dark elements). After all, to look clever and paraphrase Tolstoy, good guys are all alike; every bad guy is bad in his own way (which sounds much better than anything Chekov ever came up with, except in those episodes with the Klingons).
But of course for Lust Biters, being an interesting villain isn’t enough. I mean, Darth Vader may top every fanboy’s Villains List, but in terms of sex appeal, a wheezy guy who takes longer to undress than you, and ends up looking like a skinless chicken constantly distracted by disturbances in the Force, can stay a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
No, we want sexy villains, clit-throbbingly sexy bastards whom we’d bed as much as the heroes, if not more so! The guys you’d root for over the bland heroes - and whom you’d want to get a good rooting from. The guys with the black hats, the minions, the schemes and soliloquies about their ambitions, not like those good guys who were so squeaky clean they’d slip on sandpaper.
Let’s face it, the best men are often the worst ones!
But why is it so? In Olivia Knight’s excellent Crush Wednesday post a few weeks back, she put it best when she wrote, “It’s [explaining the appeal of wet men] like explaining the appeal of breasts to.. who doesn’t get breasts?” Well, I feel the same way about Sexy Bad Guys. But, just as Olivia valiantly strove to give us examples and possible reasons, I will endeavour to do the same.
As my list of Sexy Bad Guys, the Best in Show as well as in the sack, grew, I began putting them together in groups, until it became a sort of Villains Periodic Table, with common characteristics running through all of them.
One primary element they had was Charm, with a Capital Ch. Suave, debonair, classy, these are men whose idea of a night out with a lady doesn’t include lagers at the pub, a kebab and a fumble in the taxi. No, these men prefer Paris, a bottle of Dom Perignon ’53 (or the ’71, if one must slum it), and a Tiffany’s necklace to keep you warm as he slips you out of your gown and takes you from behind on the balcony of the penthouse suite.
These are the gentlemen Rogues: Raffles the thief (as played by the likes of Ronald Coleman and David Niven), James Mason’s highwayman in The Wicked Lady, Stewart Granger’s smuggler in Moonfleet, Steve McQueen’s (and Pierce Brosnan’s) millionaire crook in the Thomas Crown Affair, and Cary Grant’s retired cat burglar in To Catch a Thief.
These are men who keep one foot in polite society (who turn a blind eye to their activities) and the other on the ledge outside your bedroom window, men who would wine you, dine you and sixty-nine you – and leaving you not caring when you later find out they’d made off with your furs and jewellery.
Though most of these men seem consigned to the classic films, one modern example who made my mouth water was Rene Belloq, the amoral French archaeologist from Raiders of the Lost Ark, willing to work with the Nazis to achieve his goals (boo hiss!) but still a gentleman, saving Indy’s girlfriend Marion – for himself. Of course, that didn’t stop him from watching via a mirror as she undressed, or leaving her tied up as he plied her with food and wine. Just thinking about an imaginary deleted scene to that, where things went further between them, warms the cockles of my, er, heart.
Another property that popped up was Authority, men who commanded men, leaders so confident that they didn’t have to look twice to see if orders were being followed, who operated as if concepts of good and evil were for lesser men – and you believed them. From Yul Brynner’s roles as Ramses and The King of Siam (oh, those moody glowers and that rich, moistening baritone voice of his!), to Arnold Vosloo's powerful, charismatic priest in the first two Mummy movies, to Max Von Sydow’s strutting his cosmic stuff as Ming the Merciless, all intergalactic decadence and ermine finery. Hmm, all bald characters. Something in there?
Apparently not, because my all-time favourite in this category is Alan Rickman’s Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. More cunning than a serpent, more ruthless than a dog with a pork chop, he looked hot, sounded hot, and did more for me than the fabulously average Kevin Costner could in this or any other of his movies. I wasn’t the only one in the cinema cheering him on as he forcibly married Maid Marian and tried to consummate the union before the hero broke through the door. He burned out the villagers, cancelled Christmas and tortured the stunningly annoying Christian Slater. Gorgeous, amoral – what’s not to lust after?
Another quality that came to light was Ruthlessness. These were not small-time crooks selling bootleg DVDs down your local, but big men with bigger ambitions, larger than life bad boys. Notable examples included Rickman’s breakout role as Hans Gruber in Die Hard, effortlessly masterful and cool, with a sharp sense of humour and sharper clothes; James Mason as Captain Nemo, dapper and lethal, who’ll take you places (whether you want to go or not) in style under the sea; Doctor Who’s nemesis The Master, one of many Nehru jacket-clad villains in this article, with a barely-concealed love of tying up the Doctor’s female companions; Schizoid Batman villain Two-Face (especially played as he was by the deeply delicious Tommy Lee Jones), if you kept on the right side of him. Literally. And if you didn’t mind threesomes, even if there was just the two of you in bed.
Oh, and pretty much any of the earlier Bond villains, so long as they come with a secret lair. They’ll shower you with gifts (these bad guys are always generous, albeit on their own terms), have his outlandish henchmen crush that asshole who cut you off in traffic that morning, and make sure you have the best suite in his volcano lair. Just don’t get caught swapping bodily fluids with any British secret agents, or you’ll end up feeding his exotic pets in a way you’d rather not.
But the Mack Daddy of this class of villain is Lex Luthor (another baldie!), a man of humble origins, whose self-styled reputation as the greatest criminal mastermind since Moriarty appeared well-justified, and lacking superpowers of his own, he nevertheless manages to repeatedly put the bitch slap on the Boy Scout from Krypton and nearly taking over the world. And Lois keeps getting captured by him, again and again. Don’t tell me she didn’t do it on purpose; she may not have been able to tell that Clark Kent was Superman, but she was no dummy. Sure, inevitably she went home with the deeply caring, deeply vanilla Superman – but later, while he was out rescuing kittens from trees, she had some Personal Time in bed recalling what Luthor had done to her while she was tied up in his hideout, waiting to be “rescued”.
At the extreme end of the spectrum are the Beasts, more hands-on characters like Hannibal Lector, Christian Bale’s American Psycho, and TV’s sardonic serial killing hero Dexter. Absolute madmen who have married high intelligence and charisma with a lethal ferocity and a twisted code of honour and chivalry. They could kill without batting an eyelash, and literally have you for dinner if you crossed them. But you wouldn’t, because you’d be the Beauty to these Beasts, possessed and possessor. Preferring the quiet life, they tend to lack the immense wealth and ambition of the others on this list – but they're like your own human Roittweiler. And they do tend to clean up after themselves…