My life in crushes

In the next few days I am going to have a birthday.  I’m not going to tell you exactly which one (you already know that I’m in my mid 30s), but given average life expectancies, it would seem reasonable to assume that I’m now half way through my life.  At this birthday I will be able to look forward to an equal number of birthdays to come.  Thereafter, there will always be more behind than there are ahead.  If I’m allowed to get all metaphorical for a moment, I have clambered to the top of a hill, and now I can see down the other side to the road that lies ahead; a narrowing, darkening road, and at the far end the sign that simply says: STOP.

At the moment all I can see are the opportunities that I’ve wasted, and the chances I didn’t take, even though I haven’t really wasted any opportunities, and I never did have much of a chance.  If I’m honest, all I really feel like doing in this post is repeatedly typing the words ‘How the fuck did I get to be so old‘ until my fingertips bleed.

But, this attitude is, of course, maudlin self-indulgence based on faulty thinking – for all I know I might live to be 100, or it might turn out that the midpoint of my life was age 20.  Live for today, and let the future go fuck itself, and all that.  In that spirit I’ve decided to put aside my negativity, and to distract myself with ‘writing’ this post instead.  It’s another perverted one, I’m afraid, so do please look away if you are offended by the thought of looking at pictures of men I think are attractive, some of whom may well be topless.  (My other perverted posts are here and here – I’m just letting you know so that you can avoid looking at pictures of attractive men over there too…)

The basic idea of this post is too give you a rundown of the various famous people I’ve had crushes on down the years, stretching from who was catching my eye back when I was a sweetly innocent young-teens boy, to who is catching my eye now as a revoltingly depraved mid-30s man.  I’ve tried to arrange the list in chronological order of when I became obsessed by them, but it’s hard to remember exactly when I got into (as it were…) each guy, so it may not be 100% accurate. Oh, and to avoid duplicating myself, I haven’t included any of my weird crushes.  For the most part, these guys are much more conventionally good looking, I think.

Ok, so onwards and upwards.  The first famous person I had a crush on was:

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Rupert Graves

Rupert (get me, pretending like we’re on first name terms) is an actor.  He came to my attention because he played the part of Alec Scudder in the Merchant-Ivory film of the E.M. Forster novel, Maurice.  Among other things, Maurice (set just before the start of the 1st world war) is a love story, and tells how the repressed middle-class Maurice Hall falls in love with the working-class Alec.  The film is widely sneered at these days, but I think it deserves respect as one of the first mainstream films to show a broadly positive picture of a gay relationship.  Certainly it was very important to me personally.  When it was released, I was too young to legally see it, so I had to blag my way into the cinema.  I projected a lot of my emotional (and sexual) neediness onto the character of Alec and, by extension, Rupert Graves.  I was tragically heartbroken for at least 20 minutes when I found out (via a second-hand copy of Just Seventeen) that in real life Rupert preferred girls…

For a first crush (well, first celebrity crush), I think he holds up quite well.

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True, he does look as though he could have come from the pages of Non-Threatening Boys Magazine.  And he’s very pretty-pretty, and (to my more experienced adult eye) blatantly obviously heterosexual.  But given that this is the 80s we’re talking about, my first crush could have been something truly humiliating like Bros.  I think I come out of this ok.

Next up:

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James Atkin

James was lead vocalist with the band EMF.  Depending on who you believe, EMF stood either for Epsom Mad Funksters, or Ecstasy Mother Fuckers, or nothing-at-all-but-they-thought-it-sounded-good.  Personally, I’ve always been inclined to believe the third option.  They had their biggest hit in 1990 with their first single, Unbelievable.

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James Atkin is an obvious step up from my first crush, I think, in that he more accurately represents the kind of guys I tend to go for these days.  He’s fairly effeminate (I refer you to the section of ‘Unbelievable’ where he says ‘You’re so unbelievable’ if you’re inclined to disagree…) and clearly a nice guy.  That said, he does still look like he could have appeared in Non-Threatening Boys.  Unlike with Rupert Graves, however, James Atkin (or at least James Atkin as he was in 1990 – I haven’t seen a recent photo) definitely still does it for me.

Well, if EMF were a band it was ok to like in a ‘give me a break, I was only a kid’ kind of way, my next crush has no such justification:

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Tony Mortimer

Tony was the founder member and songwriter in the boy band East 17.  I know, I know, it’s humiliating.  Frankly, I don’t know what came over me.  I had already voted in my first general election by the time this crush formed, so I don’t even have the excuse of being an impressionable youth.  The only way I can even hope to explain myself is by referring you to their song Deep.  The lyric is essentially a description of having sex, and something about the way it was performed just seemed to do it for me (especially listening on headphones).

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I’d like to be able to give a better explanation for why I fancied him, but the truth is, I just did.  I doubt if even at the time I could have explained it.  This is a crush I’ve grown out of, however.

No mysteries at all as to how the next guy caught my eye.  Pretty much wherever you looked in the mid 90s, especially if you read any of the gay press, his crotch was pretty much impossible to avoid:

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Marky Mark (aka Mark Wahlberg)

It’s not even as though it’s a particularly impressive crotch.  And I always did think he was plug-ugly.  Sadly my interest in him seems to prove that, at the time anyway, my sexual tastes were like Pavlov’s dogs – show me a moody black and white picture of a bloke posing in his pants often enough and in the end I’ll respond like he’s attractive.  This really was not my finest hour.

Anyway, never mind, we now seem to be entering my brief twink-fancying phase, with this guy, who was the first of my crushes to be younger than I was:

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Adam Rickitt

Adam is an actor and singer.  He is most famous for appearing on Coronation Street and for a short-lived pop career during which he released the song I Breathe Again, which is the gayest (and I mean that in every sense of the word…) song and video ever recorded. Adam is one of only a handful of modern celebrities who has refused to confirm or deny whether he’s gay.  It’s unclear if this reluctance stems from a wish not to offend any section of his fan base, or if it’s related to the fact that, in between acting projects, he is somewhat unsuccessfully seeking selection as a prospective parliamentary candidate for the Conservative party.

Adam was probably my most exclusively physical crush.  I was never, personally, convinced by his acting abilities, and his music, although unintentionally hilarious, was not the kind of thing I would ordinarily listen to.  But, physically, there’s no getting away from the fact that, at the time, a combination of a floppy fringe and muscles did it for me.

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I’d like to be able to say that I’ve grown up and matured in the years since then, but tracking down pics of him for this post has made me realise that, actually, I still wouldn’t say no if he offered (which, clearly, he wouldn’t – he could have the pick of which ever gender(s) he prefers).  I think it’s the soulful eyes that get me these days.  I’m a sucker (as it were…) for a pair of soulful eyes.  It has to be said, I’m not especially proud of myself for still fancying someone based purely on their looks.  But, like I’ve said several times before, in lots of ways I really am a very shallow person.

In any case, after such saccharine, over-egged boyishness, it comes as a bit of a relief to move on to someone who’s at least fractionally more…er…rugged:

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Andy Roddick

Andy is a tennis player.  He’s a former world no. 1, and won the US Open in 2003.  He’s been a runner-up at Wimbledon twice.

At the moment, men’s tennis is polarised between two competing styles of play.  On the one hand there’s Roger Federer, who, when he’s playing well, seems to be effortlessly in the right place at the right time, and makes everything look easy.  On the other hand, there’s Rafael Nadal, who’s an extraordinary athlete.  He can hit the ball with exceptional strength and accuracy, but he sometimes seems to lack flow and rhythm in the longer rallies.  Federer’s game is beautiful, but can be dull to watch; Nadal’s game is exciting, but can be rather ugly.

In that context, Andy Roddick’s game is, for me, a perfect hybrid of the two styles.  He achieves a finely balanced combination of an athlete’s strength with a dancer’s grace:

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He’s also, for me, the ideal sportsman, in that he’s focussed to the point of arrogance and even contempt while he’s playing, but is sweet and unassuming and lovely off the court (as is, to be fair, Rafael Nadal).  Andy Roddick, however, has eyes that you could drown in…

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(Not to mention lousy taste in shirts…)

Andy recently took part in a charity auction organised by Elton John in which he sold an hour’s tennis coaching – but with the additional incentive that he would be naked for the duration of the lesson.  The winning bid was for $15,000.  If I had known about this auction in advance, I would have given serious consideration to selling a kidney in order to raise funds…

In case you need it spelling out, I still have a major crush on this man.

Anyway, after my brief excursion into the world of sport, it’s time to head back to music:

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Simon Webbe

Simon is a singer and some-time actor.  He’s best known as a former member of the boy band Blue, although he has recently attracted some attention as a contestant on I’m A Nonentity Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.

I would be forced to concede that a large part of my attraction to Simon is physical.

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That said, I did always have the impression that he was the most intelligent member of Blue (you may, of course, feel that this was not a difficult achievement…), and he seems like a thoroughly nice guy.

To be honest, this is another crush that I am fairly embarrassed by.  He was in a boy band for god’s sake!  What was I thinking?  (The answer, of course, is that I wasn’t thinking at all…).  If I’m honest, though, I haven’t even remotely begun to shake this one off yet.  Even the large amount of baby oil he’s slathered over himself in that first picture doesn’t seem to have put me off.  What can I say?  He’s a fine figure of a man, and he has a nice smile.

And so, finally, from a man who would have been the deserving recipient of the ‘Most Intelligent Person in Blue’ award, to a man who probably wouldn’t even qualify as a runner-up in the ‘Most Intelligent Person Called Johnny Borrell’ category:

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Johnny Borrell

Johnny is the lead singer and rhythm guitarist in the band Razorlight.  As the band’s principal songwriter, he is responsible for such blinding lyrical insights as ‘Well, I go out sometimes, then I come home again’.  He is, by and large, unpopular with other musicians, and with the major part of the ‘indie’ music audience.  Some of this dislike is motivated by inverted snobbery because he comes from a comfortable upper-middle-class background, but a large part is related to his arrogance.  Even as an admirer of the man (if not necessarily his music, or, at least, not all of it – ‘Golden Touch’ was quite catchy…), I would be forced to concede that his opinion of his own abilities does seem to exceed what he has so far achieved.

A lot of my attraction to Mr Borrell relates to his habit of performing topless while wearing a pair of low-slung white jeans so small that they seem to be in imminent danger of bursting open at the seams.  As far as I am concerned, it isn’t really possible for a man to dress more provocatively than this, although it has to be said it’s a style of dress you’d normally expect to see on a particularly blatant rent boy rather than a self-styled ‘musical messiah’:

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I don’t normally go for the arrogant, cocksure type (ordinarily I find the opposite a major turn-on, in fact), but in this case I seem to have made an exception.  I am not entirely proud of how shallow this makes me seem, but, hey, if you can resist the charms of a lithe, sweaty, almost-naked guy in the prime of his 20s, well, you’re clearly a better man (or woman) than me.

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And that, finally, is that.  I hope I haven’t horrified you too much with my choices, and that you’ll still come back for my next post, which will feature actual proper writing, and opinions, and stuff.  Probably.  Well, possibly…

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9 Responses to My life in crushes

  1. cellar_door says:

    Hehe, not horrified, but definitely not my type either! ;o) I think all my crushes come under the ‘weird crush’ heading though, I rarely fall for anyone conventionally attractive (Mr Door excepted, of course!)

    Anyway, very enjoyable bit of fluff :o) Hope your birthday isn’t too traumatic x

  2. Lucy McGough says:

    Am I allowed to wish you a happy birthday yet?

  3. cb says:

    We are probably around the same age .. I would venture a guess anyway. I like to say ‘mid 30s’ but sometimes I get a ‘whoosh’ of ‘where-did-it-all-go’ panic.
    On a funnier note, I was..um.. enjoying the photographs when partner looks over my shoulder to ask me why I’m looking at pictures of half-naked men.. and proceeds to get more than a little self-conscious!

  4. cellar_door says:

    cb – Mr Door did the same actually! Think he’s a bit paranoid now….

  5. Katherine says:

    I don’t mind what people think of it, I still really like Maurice, clunky as it is on occasion. It’s the Forster-devotee in me, I suppose, though I will say that I can’t stand the M-I adaptation of Howard’s End. How one could conceive of leaving out the Fifth symphony and then just butcher that very elegant analysis of music is beyond me.
    Anyhow, happy birthday or what you will.

  6. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Thanks for the comments.

    Oh dear, cb and cellar_door, i now have visions of having created domestic strife up and down the nation – i hope i haven’t been the cause of any major fallings out. :o)

    cellar_door – it would be an odd world, i think, if everyone had the same taste in men. I would draw a distinction between guys i would ‘go for’ in real life and guys i form crushes on – in real life i’m much more likely to go for the slightly imperfect look. I guess you could say that i have a wide-ranging taste. Or alternatively that i’m a slut – either would do… ;o)

    Lucy – well, i’ve been trying for years to put an absolute ban on people wishing me a happy birthday, but without much success, so you are free to give good wishes whenever you like! I’m not going to give any further clues as to when the big day is, however… :o)

    cb – the ‘where did it all go?’ feeling is quite a common one to have around birthdays, i think. I seem to be feeling it particularly acutely at the moment because i have rather been ‘marking time’ for the last few years. But, as i say, that way of thinking is self-sustaining, so i’m trying to avoid it. :o)

    katherine – pleased to meet another devotee! I can get quite irritated when people dismiss Forster, particularly when some supposedly quite clever people (like Oxford professors of Eng Lit) don’t seem able to recognise fairly basic concepts like irony and the free indirect narrative voice. I always asume it’s because Forster is too subtle for them… :o)

  7. bluesilk says:

    haha adam rickitt, I remember him on Corrie but haven’t heard anything of him lately. I do remember, to my shame, liking ‘Breathe Again’, especially the theatricals with him all oiled up, emerging from a cage I think (something like that) on TOTP. It was very funny. It’s my birthday soon too and I shall be checking for wrinkles and considering botox ;)

  8. don says:

    well you should look for gays these guys are straight

  9. This Side Up says:

    Random passerby here. I’m in my mid-twenties. Our tastes overlap a bit with Rupert and Atkin. Both have the puppy-dog eyes, the “rabbit” smile, blunt features, and the one thing I can never resist: a British accent. That said, I gravitate more towards stockier men. Not exactly bears, but bearcubs I guess. Anyway, I have two crushes when I was a kid that I blush to think about now: Tom Cruise and Ricky Martin. It was back before I even realized I was gay, I just liked looking at their posters on my sisters’ walls for some reason. LOL.

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