Wednesday, December 9, 2009

In the day.

Several years ago I rented a weekend summer house in the Hamptons with friends. We'd stay up late playing games wearing summer sweaters and drinking any-season beer. The first game was called "Hump or Die." The premise was that you'd either have to sleep with someone completely revolting or, you know, die. Most of us value our life too much to forfeit it completely versus sleep with someone repulsive, so we quickly exhausted that game and graduated to a celebrity face-off. It was similarly fashioned, in that you'd have to choose the celebrity based on the assumption that you'd imagine yourself having sex with that person. Generally speaking, we'd pit similarly branded celebs against one another, low-brow or high-brow, loathsome or lovable. So, for example, Oprah or Rosie? Redford or Newman? Stewart or Colbert?

For a select number of celebrants, the ones whom never really aged very well or their career was seriously in the toilet, you'd be allowed to qualify your choice by saying "in the day..." So, think: Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, or hell, even a Shelly Winters. (Granted, no matter of qualification can save some, and you're just as happy reverting back to "Hump or Die." So, think: Limbaugh or Beck.)

Years later, it's this "in the day" that defines my all-time celebrity crush. His name is Alain Delon, and although he is one of the most renowned of French actors and alive and kickin', I discovered him rather late in life via my Netflix queue. I feel silly mentioning him here as he's so damn ubiquitous in France, but he never made it big in Hollywood (not for want of trying), so I'm forgiven if this Yankee arrived late to the party.

I say "in the day," not so much because he hasn't aged well, but he's gotten rather cheesy. Early on he knew the value of brand and so started a company selling everything from perfume to watches to sunglasses ('famously' worn by Chow Yun Fat in one three of his movies). His smoking shows, and he's made bad role choices. But in the day he was simply ga-ga gorgeous, dark and brooding, rebellious and unapologetic. This working class boy made it big time. Moreover, Monsieur Delon has a lot of one degree associations of stuff I like:
  • he was the face of The Smiths' album "The Queen is Dead"
  • he starred in the original film version of Patricia Highsmiths' The Talented Mr. Ripley (called Plein Soleil)
  • he's alleged to have a love child with tragic singer/Warholian Nico (he's consistently denied paternity, although his parents raised the kid)
And as if luxury brand Dior had the same "in the day" qualifier in mind, they recently launched a campaign for Eau Savage, using a photo taken of Delon in 1966, the year the perfume was first launched. "In the day"- oh for sure.

photo courtesy images de parfums

1 comment:

  1. we used to play a game called "would you?" which involved ways to get at a million dollars. it went like this--for a million dollars:

    would you rather slide down a slide covered in razor blades into a pool of rubbing alcohol or excrement


    have sex with rush limbaugh.

    present day alain looks like my member of parliament suitor that approached me at the cafe a while back. his name was jean-louis and was quite dashing back in the day.we were like, how do you say, eh, 'ships passing in the night".