The scene opens on Allison Page, in a spotlight, swiveling her hips like a drunk chimpanzee and winking too hard with her right eye. She’s wearing a lot of lipstick and shimmying her shoulders with too much gusto. The director appears:
DIRECTOR: Allison, I said “be sexy”, not “make everyone seasick and uncomfortable.”
ALLISON: I thought that was the same thing…?
DIRECTOR: Well, it’s not.
Allison is replaced by Super Sexy Blonde Woman as the lights fade to black.
Welcome to my nightmare. I’m a 28 year old woman and I don’t know how to be sexy. I’ve got the parts in the right places. I’ve got all the makings of a lady, and none of the swagger of a confident, sexified female. I am most assuredly not bringing sexy back.
Now, hold on, I’m not some shrinking violet. I’m a strong woman, with strong ideas, very little fear, I’ve worked my way up and through all kinds of things and I’m tough as nails…but that whole sexy thing…I can’t take it seriously. So much so that I’ve been known to burst into laughter during intimate moments, make jokes at THE WORST POSSIBLE TIMES, and a plethora of other embarrassing idiosyncrasies I’ll spare you now. I don’t dance sexy, or talk sexy, or act sexy in my daily life. And when asked to be sexy? It’s like if Roger Rabbit were trying to act like Jessica Rabbit. Just doesn’t look the same, does it?
So, what is sexy, anyway?
Sexy Possibility #1
I feel like mystery factors into it. I am so unmysterious, people probably think they know everything there is to know about me in the first 5 minutes of speaking to me. I lamented about this to a friend at one point (let’s call her Belle)
ALLISON: I think I’d do better with this guy if I knew how to be mysterious.
BELLE: Yeah, you totally have to Bo Peep it!
Belle is, of course, referring to the classic tale of Little Bo Peep, who has lost her sheep:
And can’t tell where to find them;
Leave them alone, And they’ll come home,
Wagging their tails behind them.
So basically, in this case, the best tactic is to be super mysterious, causing someone to think you might be more interesting than you let on, so that they’ll chase you down instead of you chasing them. Quite a theory…that I’ll never get the chance to really try because I find it impossible.
Sexy Possibility #2
“Sexy is being confident!”
Alright, well, I’m pretty confident…ABOUT EVERYTHING EXCEPT MY ABILITY TO BE SEXY.
Sexy Possibility #3
Dictionary.com says of the word “sexy”: “sexually interesting or exciting; radiating sexuality: the sexiest professor on campus.”
I really don’t have time to become a professor. And last I checked I’m only radiating perfume. At least it smells good.
Sexy Possibility #4 AKA My Biggest Fear
It’s some intangible IT factor that cannot be harnessed by someone who does not clearly possess it already. You’ve got it or you don’t got it. Like one of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld; Elaine is at a job interview, and the employer is talking about Jackie O.
EMPLOYER: She had such…grace!
ELAINE: Yes! Ahhh, grace!
EMPLOYER: Not many people have grace.
ELAINE: Well, ya know, grace is a tough one. I like to think I have a little grace. Not as much as Jackie O. –
EMPLOYER: You can’t have a little grace. You either have grace or you don’t.
ELAINE: Okay, fine, I have no grace.
EMPLOYER: And you can’t acquire grace.
ELAINE: Well, I have no intention of getting grace.
EMPLOYER: Grace isn’t something you can pick up at the market.
ELAINE: Alright, look, I don’t have grace. I don’t want grace. I don’t even say grace, okay?!
She doesn’t get the job, in case you were wondering. Just replace the word “grace” with the word “sexy” and replace Jackie O. with Scarlett Johansson and that’s the imaginary conversation I have with the imaginary man in my head any time I need to be sexy.
This is on my mind right now, because I’m rehearsing to play a sexy-ish character. I mean, she’s no Scar-Jo, but she’s got this sort of vixen-y, sexually free, comfortably seductive mindset and she knows how to get her man when she wants to. Some days I have a better handle on that aspect of her. If I think too much about specifically what to do with my body, I get bogged down in the details of how I walk or what shapes my mouth may be making. The less I think about it, the more I focus on the hunky man in front of me, the sexier I’m able to be. Which I guess makes sense…you’d never think someone was sexy if they were busting their balls to act sexy, would you? No, that’s too desperate, there’s not enough Bo Peep in it.
Oh man, there’s that Bo Peep again! Maybe my Bo Peep is that I need to not think about how to be sexy, but why I’m being sexy. And the why is easy – it’s because she’s falling in love. Now there’s something to which I can relate! There’s nothing sexier than the rush of being in the beginning phases of falling desperately in love with someone, when everything they say or do is interesting, when you’re just dying to be closer to them than you’ve ever been to anybody because you have no reason to believe that they’re not ABSOLUTELY THE BEST THING EVER. There’s a nervous energy that gives way to sexy at the right moment. And even the nervousness can be sexy, because your affection is peeking through.
Alright, Scar-Jo, maybe I don’t exactly exude “come hither” quite the way that you do, and maybe I don’t have it all figured out just yet, but I’ve still got some love tricks up my sleeve.
Wait, do sexy people wear sleeves?
Watch Allison Page do her best “come hither and stay hither” in The Custom Made Theatre Co.’s production of PRELUDE TO A KISS opening May 21st. You can even get tickets to that show right here https://app.ticketturtle.com/index.php?ticketing=tcmtc.
Hey, you have a boyfriend and Scar-Jo is divorced. Who’s sexier now?
Lisa Kudrow talks about this on Fresh Air. How she just couldn’t take the “sexy shoot” seriously. Actors/writer/artists can see through all the posing and conventions and cultural tics–so it’s hard to take any of them seriously, right?
I doubt anyone’s really comfortable with purposeful sexiness…even the sexy people!
I recently had a similar experience with the same director – we were doing a low-pressure, fun warm up, where the actors would each take a line of theirs from the show and, one after another, say it in the manner that he’d throw out.
“Sexy!” Suddenly this fun light-hearted exercise became deadly serious
(In my head,that is, because it’s not like we *ever judge* our warm up performances….)
Yeah….From me they got “Constipated”.
The next time I need sexy constipation, I will immediately know to call Paul Jennings.
[…] this column, then, a sort of companion piece to Allison Page’s “If You’re Sexy And You Know It, Clap Your Hands,” from two years ago. There, Allison wrote about playing Rita, the romantic lead in Prelude to a […]