I am very well aware that my great success with women — and men, and children! — is largely a matter of luck. My ease with people — my natural charm, if you will — is just something I’ve always had. Similarly, the fact of my looking approximately 25 years younger than my actual age has to do as much with genetic happenstance as with the fact that I go regularly to the gym, drink only rarely, moisturize twice daily, gave up smoking in 1976, and eat lots of fresh vegetables.
Charm, I think, is the ability to make the other person feel interesting, valued, and attractive. I do this most commonly by feigning great interest in what he or she might be telling me, and by regularly exclaiming, “Oh, my!” or, more cogently, “Wow!” This isn’t to suggest that, like everyone else, I haven’t developed certain strategies for coping with the bumptious, boorish, and self-delighted. I have an acquaintance, for instance, who regards himself as Oscar Wilde Jr. In the course of a conversation, he will frequently get all puffed up like a particular sort of fish and then look skyward, making clear that he is about to intone something that he regards as enormously witty. In the last days of our sort-of-friendship, I got in the habit of unzipping myself and peeing on his ankles as he delivered his putative bon mots. In several cases, onlookers found my doing so very much wittier than what my acquaintance was saying.
I will here confess that my remarkable good looks aren’t solely to do with my wonderful genes, diet and exercise. Some years ago I traveled to Thailand to undergo extensive cosmetic surgery, and in hopes of my regaining my self-confidence, which had been decimated by my third wife’s having run off with a humorless Swiss electronics magnate with no sense of humor and a very unpleasant accent. I was so successful in the second regard that I cancelled my surgical appointments. Every time I would leave my hotel, local women would call out, “Hello, handsome,” as I ambled past. But the thrill of this soon dissipated, as I came to understand that any farang (roughly translatable as “rich-looking Westerner”) was likely to be greeted with comparable enthusiasm. And it wasn’t long before I began feeling objectified. I hoped the local beauties might call, “Hello, talented,” or, “Hello, witty,” occasionally, but had to content myself with notations of my beauty.
Nor do I kid myself that my great success with women is entirely to do with a combination of charm and remarkable good looks. I know that my palpable prosperity has at least as much to do with the fact that gals on the bus and elsewhere are forever offering me their phone number, and, in some cases, items of intimate apparel. I take pride in having built my talent management empire from the ground up, and never having been given anything but advice. The first act I signed, Roger Risotto & The Rapscallions, were doomed by the British refusal to pronounce risotto properly. In their version, the word rhymes with Lotto or grotto, and has a short first vowel, whereas it’s properly pronounced reez-OH-toh, with the second syllable pronounced as in, “Oh, my!” They similarly can’t be persuaded to voice the final syllable of Tenerife (which they pronounce Tenor Reef). They may have lost their empire, but no one can force them to pronounce words properly!
My most recent signing has been Gerry Giovanni & The Jihadists. They’re enormously talented, but I’m afraid that, in light of recent events, their name might prove an impediment. I have urged Gerry to rebrand the act Gerry, Larry, Barry, and Mary, but he points out that doing so would compel him to hire a woman, and a woman in a musical combo, especially one with long legs and pouty lips, invariably alters its “dynamic.” I myself have been in combos in which various instrumentalists got sulky and unpleasant to be around in the face of a female member seeming to prefer the lead singer.