Five bad boys I can’t help but love
This column was originally published on Killings.
1. Simon Amstell
I have long adored Simon Amstell for all of his cutting, controversial ways as a host of British television shows Popworld and Never Mind the Buzzcocks. As his character (‘Simon’) states in the first episode of Grandma’s House, which Amstell co-writes and directs, his public persona has led people to congratulate him for being mean in these hosting gigs. But as his mum reminds him, he isn’t just mean – his adorable face and appealing energy means that he is also very ‘cheeky’. It’s the combination of these traits that makes Simon Amstell the perfect example of a ‘bad boy’ today. I love him for these reasons. That, and the fact that he is very, very funny.
After a variety of controversies in superficial scenarios, particularly with celebrities – such as making Britney Spears cry and goading Buzzcocks guests about their personal life until they storm out – in recent times, Amstell has become quite reflective when acknowledging this bad boy persona, trying to distance himself from the barbarous quips he is known for.
Next week, I’m going to see Amstell at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. This will be the first time I see his stand-up live, and I can’t wait to see the more personal, insecure side of him.
Bonus points: definitely this. Gets me. Every time.
2. John Waters
John Waters is 65 years old – regardless of his age, he’s still a bad boy to me.
Waters has written books and films, directed shorts and features (Hairspray, Cry Baby), acted, performed stand-up comedy and created contemporary art. He’s a cult idol who worships, and is worshipped by, the garbage heap – and from my very own trashy pile, I salute him.
Skirting the edges of the mainstream, Waters’ penchant for the perverse and his cheeky charm give him a gloriously boyish quality. Responsible for some of the filthiest, trashiest, sickest films available in an average video store, he is also known for his collaborations with the infamous – including Divine and Patty Hearst – and for capturing some very repellent, depraved acts (including that scene in Pink Flamingos … if your eyes haven’t been tainted, search at your own risk but remember: what has once been seen can never be unseen).
Always sporting a pencil-thin moustache and often surrounded by clouds of smoke, if Waters is the devil, I definitely want to go to hell (wearing something ludicrous made of red leather in the hope that he’d notice me). Both a collector and a creator of all things camp, Waters is a man to listen to.
Bonus points: he has made it into an episode of The Simpsons, and, well, he’s John Waters.
3. Mr Rochester
While exchanging childhood cartoon crushes over a drink, a friend of mine admitted to loving The Beast from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. After taking pause, we decided that she must have meant after the spell is broken and he is ‘fixed’ by Belle – when he’s the sweet sovereign stud, a literal Prince Charming; you know, once he is human again. ‘No,’ she confirmed, ‘The Beast Beast.’
While she swooned over The Beast’s angry anthropomorphic ways, we dissected her past relationships through the lens of this psychoanalytic breakthrough, and one thing was agreed upon: a man who is verbally abusive towards women, or even keeps them captive, does not a dreamboat make (unless you’re into BDSM, in which case, all power to you … or them … or whoever is supposed to have it).
Then I remembered Mr Rochester.
Like Jane Eyre before me, ‘I had not intended to love him,’ but Charlotte Brontë’s literary bad boy stole my heart. I know he is grumbling and verbally terse, keeps his marriage a secret while he woos another and keeps his insane wife locked away. I know that he has a Neanderthal brow, rage filled eyes and a fear-inducing face. But I also know I’m not alone on this one.
As diminutive Jane’s paramour, Rochester is her perfect bestial counterpart; he is a marvellously complex character who unfolds through Brontë’s words and Jane’s eyes, and is redeemed by the end.
Bonus points: in the most recent Jane Eyre incarnation, he was played by Michael Fassbender (his beard in the final scenes deserve their own bad boy bonus points).
4. Logan Echolls
Television bad boys are my major weakness. I adore the bad attitudes of Community’s arrogant douche Jeff Winger, My So-Called Life’s class-skipping Jordan Catalano, or The Wire’s drug-lord Stringer Bell. And really, who preferred the recently neutered, doe-eyed Eric Northman over the evil, smokin’ hot vampire of seasons past?
But the TV bad boy I love most also surprises me most.
At the beginning of short-lived cult favourite Veronica Mars, Logan Echolls is a spoiled, poor little rich boy who is dating a character played by Paris Hilton. He wears hideous shell necklaces, orange t-shirts and, if we’re being honest, is not exactly the typically handsome teen-TV leading man. But as the show moves forward, something shifts: his sarcastic asides and quick quips become insanely endearing, his spark with girl detective Veronica ridiculously hot, and his yellow SUV transforms from an obnoxious global-warming device to a make-out machine. While he is undoubtedly wayward – guilty of arson, drugging people and sleeping with his friends’ mother – he is also a broken human who wants to escape his sordid history and change, but struggles to do so. In one season Logan transforms from the show’s ‘obligatory psychotic jackass‘ to a bad boy babe and I love it.
Bonus points: hilarious delivery of amazing lines – he’s like a sinister Seth Cohen meets a smart Dylan McKay.
5. Jerry Lee Lewis
This pick diverges from the cheeky bad-boy type because most musicians are just plain bad. Far beyond overnight jailbird Johnny Cash or hip-swivelling Elvis, Rockabilly Hall of Famer Jerry Lee Lewis was saturated in scandal.
Over the years he married his 13-year-old cousin, put a small nation worth of drugs into his body, and while he denies trying to kill Elvis (although he was arrested for it), he did verbally dance on The King’s grave.
Horrific life choices aside, as much as it pains me to admit it, ‘The Killer’s’ bad-boy boogie-woogie, piano-smashing tunes manage to stir my heart.
Bonus points: he’s still alive! How is he still alive when he has been that bad?!