The XX Factor

Return of the Beautiful Uglies

It must be the season of the listicle. Too lazy to write an article, or, heck, even create a charticle, print and online writers turn to the list in an attempt to draw as many list-loving readers as possible. The latest comes from the folks at, who have seen fit to list: ” The Twenty Sexiest Ugly People .” Fair enough. I’ve long been enamored with the ” beautiful uglies ,” or what the French refer to as jolie laide : “the aesthetic pleasures of the visually off kilter: a bump on the nose, eyes that are set too closely together, a jagged smear of a mouth.”

Nerve’s collection of the seemingly hideously sexy-or is that sexily hideous?-includes Daisy De La Hoya (if you don’t watch VH1, never mind), Marilyn Manson (his screeching anthem “The Beautiful People” comes to mind), Iggy Pop (for some reason I can’t quite explain, I must admit I would not kick him out of bed for eating crackers), Sandra Bernhard (a “jagged smear of a mouth,” indeed), and Biz Markie (interesting choice, no matter how you slice it).

Some picks are spot on, I think: Tilda Swinton I adore, Mickey Rourke embodies the concept perfectly, and the twisted features of the terrifically transgendered Amanda Lepore hypnotize (me, at least). Some others, I don’t get: Woody Allen? Amy Winehouse? Paul Giamatti? I can’t say I associate any of those three with any kind of burning sexuality, above or below the surface. Of course, it’s all so subjective when it comes to looks, sexuality, attraction. In any case, it’s sort of delightful to see a list that celebrates something other than the cookie-cutter looks of Brad, Angelina, and George. Enough of that already. Bring on the sexy freaks.