Cintra Wilson recently launched a series on what Salon.com calls “entertainment’s underappreciated greats”. Judging the series so far, the criteria for underappreciated greatness seems to be an inexplicable erotic attraction to the subject as well as a compulsion to spew adjectives as if she were the spawn of Chuck Palahniuk and a riot grrl with Tourette’s Syndrome.
But if Cintra can do it, so can I.
So who is my inexplicable erotic attraction?
But before I go on, I have to explain: I’m notorious (at least with my sister) for nursing crushes on odd celebrity objects. At ten I was obsessed with Rex Harrison (I had the My Fair Lady soundtrack perpetually checked out from the Kadena AFB library for two years). At twelve, while my sister and friends were salivating over Bobby Sherman and Donny Osmond, I was secretly lusting over Gene Barry during his Name of the Game hey-day (it was those double-breasted suits). Sure I tried to mask my proclivities by tacking up a few posters of Michael Cole, but it was no use. By high school, I moved on to the hard stuff: Gene Kelly and David Wayne.
Why Steve Landesberg? Because to a geeky seventeen-year old from the Pacific Rim, Steve Landesberg was sexy. New York City–intelligentsia sexy. The rumpled suit, the Gregory Peck-like voice and laconic banter that screamed Columbia doctoral candidate set my hormones aflame on a weekly basis. And to top it off, he was funny. Cooly funny, not Gallagher funny.
But the key for me was his exoticness–he was my version of jungle fever. He represented a fantasy, a Simon & Garfunkel/brownstone/coffeehouse-and-chunky-sweater dream. And for a girl raised on an island overrun by habu snakes and Bob Hope USO shows, he was crush catnip.
Next Time: L’Affaire with Laurence Harvey.