The Freebies List
Publisher's Note: For the uninitiated, each July Pajiba compiles the Pajiba 10 based upon our readers' freebie list. This is not yet a call for your own freebies list, merely an introductory 'for your consideration' post designed to get help get you in the frame of mind for selecting your own freebies list late this month.
I wouldn't put Penelope Cruz, who is as pure and authentic a beauty as one could imagine, on the list because she was once involved romantically with Tom Cruise. This is a deal breaker for me, the sort of thing that poisons everything else, like rumors of a venereal disease or racism.
I'm on the fence regarding Zooey Deschanel. Putting her on the list seems lazy, like I'm merely indulging a hipster cliché. Sure she's pretty and kind of weird, maybe even a diamond in the rough, but isn't her inclusion on the list really just an attempt to advertise how alternative and Indie my tastes are?
The list, of course, is the one that includes the celebrities you would most like to have sex with. While at a dinner party on the weekend, this question was passed around the table. This has always struck me as a highly political matter. Sitting at the table with my lady and all of our friends scattered about, I realized that to blurt out the unexamined truth would be a catastrophically intimate thing to do. Whatever secret turn-on I'd been concealing, or didn't even know that I was concealing, would suddenly explode into public view and there would be hurt feelings and humiliations everywhere.
"Really? You want to screw Oprah?"
"No, no. I was just kidding. I meant Matthew McConaughey. No! I mean Eva Mendes! Eva Mendes! Yeah, she is crazy hot! I would so do her! Big time!! Not Matthew McConaughey!"
And of course, not only do I want to spare myself the embarrassment of a suspect response, but I also want to avoid exploiting the insecurities of anyone else sitting at the table. I mean, I don't want to be blathering on about Scarlett Johansson's full, welcoming lips in front of somebody who's always been self-conscious about their thin, librarian lips. I don't want my answers to confirm all the prevailing stereotypes about male desire, and even though "The List" is clearly about sex, I don't want my answers to be exclusively based on sex, I want them to suggest that the largest sex organ is actually the brain.
With this in mind, a lot of guys will put Cate Blanchett on their list. There's no doubt that she's mesmerizing to look at, but more than that she's intelligent and sophisticated, like some city in Europe. She's the person that women would put on their list. Slightly mysterious, she projects grace and elegance, a refined and timeless beauty who doesn't rely on anything too obvious. When you go to a Cate Blanchett movie, you don't go to see her naked, you go to see her in all her complexity -- she's the person you want to get to know over a lifetime, not just one action-packed night. In short, she's the opposite of Jessica Simpson.
Other people I'd place in this category are Kate Winslet, who has a bawdy fearlessness about her, and Isabella Rossellini, who in spite of her age, is just about the coolest person on the planet. These are good political answers, ones that bow to the evident beauty of the actresses, but also acknowledge that more goes into the chemistry of desire than just the stuff you can touch with your hands.
But "The List" is all about the throb of inarticulate want. There's nothing reasoned or considered about it. It's the quality that makes you look two seconds too long, renders speech superfluous, and makes you pay to see a movie you know is going to be crappy, because maybe, just maybe, you'll get to see her naked.
I will now give you a very subjective list of five actresses that I would put on my list.
The first person I'm going to put on my list is Rosario Dawson.
I wish I had more to say about her but I don't. She simply knocks the words right out of my head.
Natalie Portman, or some version of Natalie Portman, is likely on everybody's list. She's stunning to look at, and appearing to be illuminated from the interior, she seems almost holy in her purity. Thoughtful and articulate, with a face that flashes quickly into joy, she's exactly the sort of person you'd hope to fall in love with on a university campus. She seems happy, healthy and optimistic, but in a dead sexy, I-bet-her-hair-smells-like-angels kind of way.
Beneath the angry, icy repression of Tilda Swinton resides a terrifying passion. A statuesque androgyne, Swinton exudes a raw sexual charisma that defies easy categorization. She's a force of nature, and whether she's portraying the White Witch of Narnia, the soulless lawyer from Michael Clayton or the practical and horny wife in Young Adam, there's something about her that just seizes hold and won't let go. She's a Greek myth unto herself, and when she looks into your eyes there is no turning back.
It boggles my mind that Laura Linney, or any Hollywood actress for that matter, gets regularly cast as the "homely one." Linney is a natural and effortless beauty, and it's this lack of affectation that gives her an accessible quality that in Hollywood passes for plain. It's also what makes her look human, unlike Jessica Alba or Jessica Biel, who so tightly conditioned, appear to be little more that sticks made out of muscle. I can actually imagine meeting Linney at the grocery store and speaking with her. She seems real, and there's an erotic physicality to this that just doesn't exist in the polished and marketed smiles of other stars.
No further explanation necessary.
As an addendum, I would just like to add that the women at the party, and the one gay man present, nominated Clive Owen, Daniel Craig, Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Gerard Butler, the guy who plays Jason Stackhouse on True Blood, Stephen Colbert and Colin Firth, amongst others, as the top contenders on their lists.