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The Rake Hero

11 Oct 2008

Or, as I prefer to call him, The Male Slut.

This type of hero abounded in the early romances I read.  Old-school historical romances usually opened up with a scene of the hero and one or more women who were definitely not pure enough to be the heroine.  Or a duel between the hero and the husband he cuckolded.  Some of these heroes also cheated on the heroines mid-way through the book, usually as a way to drive the heroines away because they felt they weren’t good enough for them.  (Susan Johnson, however, basically stuck with the tenet men cheat when their significant others are not around.)

These heroes were considered virile, manly, et cetera, et cetera because all women wanted them–and had them.  They are commitment-phobic because why should they settle for only one woman when they can have them all?  Of course, then they would meet the feisty, virginal heroines who would make them change, see the error of their ways, and they would no longer want any other woman but these paragons.

The fantasy of taking a male slut rake and reforming him appears to be shared by many, many women (how else to explain the trope’s popularity?)…but–you guessed it–I’m not one of them.

Frankly, they skeeved me out.  It’s not a morality thing for me.  Every time I came across one of them, my stomach would shudder as I imagined the possible STDs they would have from sleeping around.  And I would always wonder how many bastard children they might’ve sired and didn’t know about.  And the whole cheating-for-her-own-good pissed me right off.  Made me want to reach into the books and shove the heroes over the nearest cliff, and maybe the heroines with them for forgiving the jackasses.

SNL did a skit back in the 90s about the world’s ultimate rake that perfectly portrays my take (sorry, can’t find a video, so the transcript will have to do):

Nurse – Ana Gasteyer
James Bond – Chris Parnell
Dr. Carlisle – Garth Brooks

[open on TNT logo, as we return to a James Bond movie marathon, in the middle of “Today Is Never Yesterday”]

[movie opens at Fort Philips Medical Center, Helsinki, Finland]

Nurse: Wait here, Mr.–

James Bond: Bond. James Bond.

Nurse: Right. I’ll tell Dr. Carlisle that you’re here. Is there anything you need?

James Bond: I’ll let you know if…something comes up.

Nurse: [coquettish laugh as she exits]

Dr. Carlisle: [enters] How you doing, James?

James Bond: Good. Good.

Dr. Carlisle: Please have a seat. [Bond sits] James, I have some, uh, top secret information for you.

James Bond: For my eyes only? [laughs]

Dr. Carlisle: [opens folder] I don’t know how you’ve done it, James, but you have 107 different venereal diseases.

James Bond: I’m sorry?

Dr. Carlisle: 53 of them have been identified… We’ve sent samples of 36 others to disease control center in Atlanta – they won’t return our calls…

James Bond: But, what about the other 18?

Dr. Carlisle: The other 18, we’ve never seen before. They actually found some way to mutate spontaneously with other bits and pieces of venereal disease inside of you. Um…so rare that we don’t even have names for hem, so we’re naming them “Bond-1”, “Bond-2”, and so on. Then there are three others…

James Bond: Oh… I thought there were only 107?

Dr. Carlisle: Yeah. Well, we’re thinking it’s a lab report, because these three are only found in sharks.

James Bond: [holds up arm] You know, uh, this watch can shoot laser beams.

Dr. Carlisle: That’s great, James, but can it cure herpes? I mean, haven’t you noticed the lesions? My God, the extreme discolorization? The erosion, for God’s sake? The massive testicular swelling? Surely you’re aware of the stench that even fills this room!

James Bond: [sniffing] No…

Dr. Carlisle: 007, this is serious. Now, I need to ask you some questions about your sexual history. How many women have you had sex with in the last five years?

James Bond: Uh… 4?

Dr. Carlisle: You’re lying.

James Bond: Uh.. yes, I am. About 8,000.

Dr. Carlisle: Mr. Bond, as a government agent and a gentleman, I think it’s your ethical obligation to call every single one of these women and tell them about your condition. With 8,000, I suggest you’d get started.

Nurse: [enters] Excuse me, Doctor? [whispers in his ear]

Dr. Carlisle: Oh, my God! Uh…excuse me, there’s an emergency at the lab. It seems that “Bond-4” has eaten through its beaker. If it gets into our water system, we’re all goners. So, good luck to you, James. [exits office]

James Bond: [picks up phone and makes first call] Hello, is Octopussy there? Great! Hello. Hi, honey, it’s James. Uh, listen, something kind of funny’s come up! No…not laugh-out-loud funny, but more just weird. Yeah. I have 107 venereal diseases. Hello? [hangs up] This isn’t so bad…

[cut scene to next phone call]

James Bond: Is Pussy Galore there? Hi! Oh, it’s Pussy Phillips now? Congrats! Listen…

[cut scene to next phone call]

James Bond: Is Martha Stewart there? She’s not? Uh…no. No message.

[cut scene to next phone call]

James Bond: Is Batman there? Hey, Robin, it’s James! No, stay on the line, actually, this concerns you both!

[cut scene to reveal Bond alseep on the couch in the office]

Nurse: Mr. bond?

James Bond: Oh…? Oh, yes, I was just finishing up. How long have I been here?

Nurse: Eight days.

James Bond: Oh, dear. Well, it seems I’m free at the moment. Would you care to make love in a hovercraft?

Nurse: Sounds intriguing. But I think it’s only fair to tell you: I have crabs.

James Bond: Hmm…if that’s a venereal disease, then we’re in business. By the way, I didn’t catch your name.

Nurse: It’s Connie. Connie Lingus.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. 11 Oct 2008 2:50 PM

    I don’t mind the rake hero (I’m an insult to my gender, I know) but I HATE James Bond! Unless played by Daniel Craig. Octopussy, OMG gag. Those cheesy double entendres make me heave.

    Some authors do rakes better than others, I guess. I like Susan Johnson, but I remember a book of hers in which the hero goes straight to the heroine from his mistress’ bed. No washing. Yuck.

  2. azteclady permalink
    11 Oct 2008 7:33 PM

    You just ruined some of my favorite heroes for me!


    No, no, I find I can forget all that for the right hero 😉 See? that’s how it works for the heroines as well: voluntary and selective memory loss.

  3. Ann Bruce permalink
    12 Oct 2008 12:28 AM

    @Jill–Daniel Craig *drool* I’ve been a Daniel Craig fan since he stepped out of the shower in Tomb Raider.

    As for that Susan Johnson book, I read it too–and I had to shower after reading that scene.

    @AZ–I think I’m too practical to be a romantic. I get turned on when I see my mortgage principal decrease on the 1st and 15th of every month.

  4. 12 Oct 2008 8:08 AM

    Have you seen Layer Cake? An older Daniel Craig movie.

  5. Jane permalink
    12 Oct 2008 12:59 PM

    I love “Layer Cake.” Sienna Miller was in it.

  6. Ann Bruce permalink
    14 Oct 2008 10:21 AM

    I now have Layer Cake on hold at my library.


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