(THANKS from the blog to Linda for confessing her ‘horrible’ crush; readers, feel free to confess your own in our Comments…Who is 2009’s Oliver Reed?)
My Horrible Celebrity Crush by Linda K. Sienkiewicz
When Susan Lilley wrote about the crush she “instinctively knew was not cool” on Barnabas, she gave me the courage to confess my really creepy crush, one that I have never quite understood, probably because I was afraid to look too closely at it, and until now, never admitted.
It was 1968, and I was fourteen, on a school field trip to view the film “Oliver!” at a local theater. I slid down in my seat and yawned, expecting a musical about a street urchin to be as exciting as having to watch Liberace with my parents at my grandmother’s every Sunday evening. That bored attitude changed when Bill Sikes, played by Oliver Reed, swaggered onto the screen in his battered top hat. That brooding snarl! That chiseled jaw! That five-o’clock shadow! Those cruel blue eyes and bushy muttonchops!
Every time he appeared, the hair on my neck rose and something throbbed between my legs. I sank deeper into my seat, hoping no one noticed I was practically panting. How could I be attracted to a sweaty thug? He was evil, vicious, and smokin’ hot. Handsome, in that ruggedly romantic way, hissing sweet little nothings to Nancy with his hand around her throat. I cried when he clubbed her to death. Even if she was a disloyal slut, it was wrong, but he redeemed himself when he choked up about it afterwards. Only a true psychopath feels no remorse. Bill Sikes was misunderstood; a good man at heart, his silver lining tarnished by a bad childhood and poor education, left with no marketable job skills other than thievery.
I was unable to sleep. I was haunted. I was also sure the other girls in my class found Oliver Reed and Sikes repulsive, and, of course, that fact made me love him more. We were both outcasts.
Thinking about other charismatic bad boys, when I was twelve, I was enamored with Sean Connery’s Bond. Like Sikes, he slapped women around. He killed without remorse. It’s true he wore a better suit and had a prettier face, but I wonder if he set me up to fall for Sikes by making brutish behavior acceptable in my impressionable young mind. I don’t know. I only remember I had a lot of twisted dreams with Ollie. My only defense is I was fourteen, Sikes was fictional character, and in my fantasy world, I mended him. He was still dangerous, yes, but he never clubbed me.
Reed was once under consideration to replace Sean Connery as James Bond, but the producer felt his reputation as a boozer was beyond repair. He was a sadly disgraced celebrity, but his final acting gig as Proximo in “Gladiator” earned him a BAFTA Best Supporting Actor Nomination. He did good.
I just discovered “Oliver Reed as Bill Sikes” has a Facebook fan page (“How hot is this man?”). There are 66 members, plus me, now. It’s a relief to know I’m not alone. And thanks, Susan, for your confession. It makes my forbidden crush feel less wrong.