Sept. 14, 2001 -- When I read that Rene Russo enlisted a sex-appeal coach to prepare for her smoldering role in The Thomas Crown Affair, I was immediately skeptical. After all, I'm pretty sure sculptured cheekbones and perky breasts can't be learned. Still I wonder: With a little professional help, can your average woman -- OK, me -- go from tepid to tamale?
By Ty Wenger
Fifteen years ago, I found myself in a romantic pickle: Cheryl, a woman I had been dating for about three months, was nearing her 25th birthday. The birthday gift in any three-month-old relationship is a dicey one, and I deliberated over it for weeks. Too big too soon and it could look like I was trying too hard. Too little and I might appear indifferent. Too romantic and I'd run the risk of setting the bar too high.
And so it was with great enthusiasm that I finally unveiled the gift...
Intrigued, I do what any gal looking to boost her babe quotient would do: I head to Los Angeles. I've booked a one-hour session with Barbara Biggs, PhD, the Los Angeles sex therapist I've chosen to cultivate my inner siren.
Before I set out, though, I have a dilemma to solve: How does one dress for seductress school? Should my hair be up or down? What if my personal sex-appeal coach tells me I'm hopeless, that my Wonderbra was a waste of money? I haven't felt this flustered since my last blind date. And he wasn't even a doctor. No wonder I'm nervous.
By chance, Biggs does not live up to her name: She's actually quite petite. She's also warm and friendly, which instantly puts me at ease. And she gets right down to business.
Debunking the Myths
"The biggest misconception about sex appeal," she says, "is that there's one definition or ideal." She often hears women telling her, "I've got to have long hair" or "I've got to have long legs" if they have any hope of measuring up on the sexiness scale.
There is definitely more than one definition of what's sexy, she says, so if you meet someone whose description of sexiness doesn't fit you, you can walk away and fulfill someone else's definition.
There are other misconceptions, as well. Warmth, Biggs says, is the essence of sexiness. (And all along, I thought it was the strategically timed hair toss.)
"The average guy does not see himself as a super-stud," she says. (This, too, is news to me.)
"A friendly smile, with eye contact, shows you're confident and approachable and probably won't shoot him down, something most guys find incredibly appealing," Biggs says. (Now, I'm relaxing a little. After all, who can't smile and zero in on someone else's eyes?)
My coach continues: "There's a saying: 'If you think you're the most beautiful woman in the room, you will be.'" The same applies to sexy.