Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Trading In, Trading Up: Substitutions for the Sexiest Man of 2013

The tiny, challenged television in my house has four channels, including QVC and Telemundo. On Monday nights, I occasionally coax it on; “The Voice," an American Idol reincarnation starring Adam Levine’s rabid smirk, invariably appears. Levine, the lead singer of Maroon Five, recently proposed to his third consecutive Victoria’s Secret model girlfriend; whenever he comes onscreen, the shivering teen hopefuls under his tutelage still blink violently. But I've never been able to get there. There's something shiny and sinister about him, in a particularly California tint: a sugar-wax, avocado-smoothie, let’s-skip-all-of-this feeling.

Yesterday, People Magazine crowned Levine 2013's Sexiest Man Alive. I gasped and I shuddered. I waded through denial, then anger. Now, I bargain.

Pining for sexier times, I found that my initial fantasy football game leaned nostalgic: David Bowie for Justin Bieber, Jimi Hendrix for Bruno Mars, Omar Sharif for Robert Pattinson. But as I fretted and doodled and Google imaged, a revelation shone upon me: the sexiness is still all around us. Sometimes it wears a jort miniskort (I’m looking at you, Christopher Owens). Sometimes it hits itself in the head with a microphone (call me, Sam France). Often it hops in the passenger side of a convertible (Shingai Shoniwa, everything: yes).

Sexiness to me is a matter of looking in the weird places, of spotting the morels around the edge of the forest. So, for your viewing pleasure, I share my own freaky roster of Levine substitutes, all of them musical contemporaries if not quite his peers in auto-tuned slickness. Come with me into the world of 2013's sexiest men and women. Feel no longer afraid.

Gary Clark Jr.

I first heard Gary in the mid-July dry heat of Austin, his hometown, cruising along the freeway in an ancient silver Mazda 6. I shouted “WHO IS THIS?” at the musician friends I was driving with and while they went on and on about his technique I nodded along, mentally naming our children. The unzipped combat boots, the all-weather beanies, the way he plays his Epiphone Casino, his relentless basslines—it all feels so deeply rooted, fiercely sultry and understated all at the same time. I don’t usually listen to the blues, but when Gary Clark Jr. plays I watch and listen. 

Christopher Owens

The moment I glimpsed Christopher, I knew he was the answer to a few questions, the first of which was: who have we loved since Kurt Cobain? It was the fall of 2011 in New York; he was still with his band GIRLS. There were rings under his eyes, his hair was in a greasy, bleached bob and he had an air of worn mischief, a slight snaggletooth, a sideways glance. I continued loving him through the skort, through the twee solo album, through the tepid later shows where anemic models making eyes at each other served as the key entertainment. His wild upbringing in the Children of God, his travels through Slovenia and Amarillo, his experimental relationship with preciousness. He was the opposite of a Dupont Circle happy hour, a foil to everything in my life at that time that I didn’t know I wanted to leave yet.

Sam France

Sam France, the lead singer of Foxygen, came on my radar last summer when he climbed the Mass MoCa stage scaffolding, got thrown down by a bouncer, smacked his head with a mic and mock-strangled himself. My memorable manic pixie. But beyond the theatrical fireworks and seventies outfits (he’s often spotted in wide wale corduroy, fur & paisley), France is a vocal showman—listen to the riff on "Shuggie," where he flits between a high-pitched chorus line and a deep booming wailHe dates (or dated, who knows) the ethereal Elizabeth Le Fey, a rainbow-haired former traveling member of Foxygen who was ousted over charges of “unprofessionalism.” Like many women of rock before her, she took the last word.

Ezra Miller

Ezra Miller is only 20 years old, so you will not be able to legally have a cocktail with him. Here are other things that he likes to do: talk about neuroscience, play drums, watch The Wizard of Oz, change the style of his jet-black waves. I haven’t seen his two latest movies, We Need to Talk about Kevin and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but I—as part of my responsibility as a journalist—will. I will do it. Miller identifies as queer, saying in an interview that “I think the way society splits the human being in half is kind of tragic, and I think we should all be as open a book as possible when it comes to loving another human.”

Shingai Shoniwa

For our ladies who like ladies, I can’t get enough of Shingai Shoniwa—straightup badass poppy inflection, play and pompadour. I will watch her in the Noisette’s “Never Forget You” video ten times in a row without getting bored, because she's having so much fun. The cackle at 2:12? Yes. Looking divine in a shoulder-padded banana yellow blazer, as she does in “Don’t Upset the Rythym”? Stop. Don’t stop. Never leave.


Freak folky, gender-bending, performative and yet somehow subtle sister pair, raised separately with their divorced parents (think The Parent Trap, minus the twinliness and bad British accents, plus vision quests with their farmer father, vagabond adventures with their Native American / Syrian artist mother). The CR unique brand of creepy-hot reaches a pinnacle on the single “Werewolf” and shines in “By Your Side,” where they sing “All I wanted was to be your housewife / I’ll iron your clothes / I’ll shine your shoes / I’ll make your bed / And cook your food.” You know they won’t and you don’t want them to, but picturing such a performance delights nonetheless.

There's room for more on this team, so tell me: what sexy rocks did I leave unturned?

Melissa Batchelor Warnke tweets @thewarnke

62 Comments / Post A Comment

Briony Fields

Adam Levine? Barfamundo.

But what about Tom Hiddleston? Too obvious?


im obsessed with this @y


Gary Clark Jr.




I mean, my god, I don't have very high standards for People Magazine, but just, why???


@katiemcgillicuddy Also,



@katiemcgillicuddy YESSSSSS.


@katiemcgillicuddy This is the correct answer.


Idris Elba- that is all.


@codi_cathleen He is the sole correct answer to this question.


@codi_cathleen Why did they not consult us


@codi_cathleen forever and ever, amen.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@codi_cathleen Even I, A Gay, feel this pull. Idris forever.




@codi_cathleen ok I'm learning I'll try again:


@codi_cathleen Mischief managed. ;)


Umm, you guys? I met Adam Levine once and got into a political discussion (yes, this really happened) and he told me that he votes Republican "for tax purposes." I mean, is there anything less sexy than that? Seriously.


@JocelynWest Vomiting. Just, blargh.


@JocelynWest Just when I thought I couldn't dislike him any more. It's like he's racing himself for Biggest Douchebag On Earth. And spoiler alert! He's winning!


@JocelynWest Gross. Just, GROSS.


@JocelynWest Yes. Voting Republican for moral reasons.


@evil_echidna I don't know about that. Voting Republican for moral reasons is at least more honest!
Voting Republican for "tax reasons" (brushing past other fiscal issues and ignoring ideology altogether) seems disingenuous at best.
@JocelynWest I'm hard pressed to think of anything less sexy!


@photoelectric Yeah, you know, you're right; in Aus I know lots of self-described "economic conservatives/social progressives" who vote for the Liberal Party (the major conservative party here; they're free-market liberals akin to your Repubs) and justify it by saying things like, "Screw symbolic shit like gay rights and refugees, at least the Libs won't introduce pointless taxes & will look after the economy", and yeah, their hypocrisy does repulse me more. At least with the idiots who whine about "femrrhoids" ruining everything, what you get is what you see!


@evil_echidna "they're free-market liberals". Sorry, should add: Free-market liberals who are very socially conservative.


I have to disagree with this decision, and demand a recount. Clearly the right answer can be only Louis CK or Rob Zombie.


I didn't get beyond Gary Clark Jr. because I googled him and am now down that beautiful, beautiful internet black hole.


@eiffeldesigns Same! I barely made it back in this post.


I mean, Tom Hardy, anyone? Seriously, who is running People Magazine, I just...no.

Less Lee Moore@facebook

@katiemcgillicuddy Oh god, Tom Hardy. Yes.


@pinesy Nooooo he's a serial killer!

A serial killer who works out, but.

I have a lot of conflicted feelings about that show.


Obviously, someone here has to post this:


@katiemcgillicuddy I must respectfull disagree. I can't be the only one who thinks B.C. looks like Voldemort?


@cocokins See, for me (and I think a number of others) I did not understand the appeal of BC until I saw this gif. He isn't classically handsome, but watching this gif just...makes my pants tingle.


@katiemcgillicuddy YES to this gif. the bouncing curly locks. the deft scarf removal. those lips. the beguiling smirk on one side of his face, that only lasts a split second; was he or wasn't he checking us out?


@katiemcgillicuddy Gawp! I am late for yoga because I have been hypnotised by this gif(t).

Woman Problem

@katiemcgillicuddy I looked away and gasped. That's how potent that gif is.


I used to think he was kind of sexy, and then I realized the actual person I thought was kind of sexy was Milo Ventimiglia in that one Fergie video.



@hungrybee CORRECT.


@hallelujah I watched the original The Best Man the other night to get ready to see the sequel. 1999 me was all about Taye Diggs, but 2013 me is into Morris Chestnut. (Still <3 u tho Taye, you can be my side piece.)


@hungrybee but there is nothing like Taye's smile.


@hungrybee I just saw Best Man Holiday on Tuesday and when Mr. Chestnut entered the bedroom in this scene, the theater went nuts! Even my boyfriend gasped with appreciation. And also: I loved, loved, loved Taye Diggs in the original but he is still looking good in 2013!


NO ONE benefits from Adam Levine being told in glossy print that he is the Sexiest. And yes, what of Tom Hiddleston because of the dancing and gracious geek servicing? And what of Idris Elba because of the everything?


I'm a huge fan of Adam Levine and I absolutely find him quite sexy. - Paul Kadri

Becky Lang

I love this. Adam Levine definitely has something "shiny and sinister about him." And when I saw Foxygen the lead singer fell off the stage and broke his leg, so it sounds like he gets hurt a lot.

snicker snack

Thank you so much for Gary Clark, Jr. I would also like to add a chunk of the Thor cast, for example Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston - swoon.


I feel like this really should have been Idris Elba's year but People magazine is relentlessly stupid about such things.

If I had my way, though, it would be Ben Whishaw and there would be a 20 page editorial of him frolicking with cats, so.


@yeah-elle Have your people talk to his people. Make this happen.





@yeah-elle Oh my stars, he has got the 'come hither' look down.

Amber Stewart@twitter


My "sexiest men" would really just be a collection of British hotness. Elba, Cumberbatch, Whishaw, Hiddleston, Hardy... good lord. I have to go lie down.

Less Lee Moore@facebook

@Amber Stewart@twitter hahaha! Yes to this.


Kat Dennings. And yeah, Ezra Miller is pretty fucking fine.


I met Adam Levine once and got into a political discussion (yes, this really happened) and he told me that he votes Republican "for tax purposes."
Hotel in Hanoi


My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can't believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do, www.Best96.com


uuhhhh who is the guy in the photo for this piece? it looks kinda like Ian Somerhalder who I am embarrassed to have had a crush on whilst watching "LOST" :/


@planforamiracle It's Adam Levine! He is kinda Somerhalder-y in that picture though.


@planforamiracle Hahahahahahah. Oh, you mean Adam Levine, as in, the subject of this post? Way to pay attention, me ;)


I've been choosing to read People magazine's announcement as:
Adam Levine: sexist. Man, alive!

Woman Problem

Can we just have a hairpin that is you guys posting gifs and me fanning myself? Thanks.

Less Lee Moore@facebook

Whoever writes for People does not have a Tumblr. Or they have shitty Tumblr friends. I feel obligated to also mention Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen because I am a slobbering Fannibal.

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