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Raúl Esparza: My Romantic Gateway Drug

Raul is undressing you with his eyes.

Raul is undressing you with his eyes.

Something extremely bizarre has happened in my life.  In the last nine or ten months, my default dude—you know, the type even my friends can spot for me from a mile away—has shifted dramatically.

For me, the archetype was set around the time of my fourteenth birthday and it was Taylor Hanson.  Consequently I’ve basically always gone for beautiful, delicately featured, dare I say ‘pretty’ boys.  Ones with flushed cheeks and fair complexions and piercing baby-blue eyes.  Boys who are willowy to the point of being breakable with one overzealous thrust of the hips.  Boys who are exquisite.

Anyway.  We’re talking about a good decade (plus) of my life, here, in which this was my standard bear.  I mean.  There were always outliers—P___, who I loved for far too long, was mostly fair but he was short his eyes and hair were dark—but my wheelhouse had remained so consistent, for so long, that this recent change has even shocked my friends.

“I feel like I don’t even know you anymore,” Lucky said to me at Joe’s Pub the other night, awed and maybe a little bit horrified.  I had just pointed out the dark, juiced-up, hairy, tattoo covered dude I’d been making eyes with.

That guy, that jacked, olive-toned, hirsute, guy’s guy, is just the most recent in a long line of totally manly men.  Of broad, muscled, dark-featured, scruffy, gruff men.  Of Steel Burkhardts.  And as this new line of men grows, as I continue to find myself eye-fucking every ‘gorilla’ on Manhattan Island, I grow more and more confused.  How is this happening?  How does a girl go from lusting after the Taylor Hansons of this world to, well, his exact opposite?

And then I figured it out.  I pinpointed the shift.  Raúl Esparza.  Raúl Esparza as Duke Orsino, to be exact.  In this situation—like pot or spray paint for your average, troubled suburban kid—Raúl was my gateway drug.

I saw The Twelfth Night in the Park several times last summer.  I won’t give my exact number, but it was definitely more than twice and less than some number that would make me look any crazier than I already do.  I will, however, confess that I definitely saw it way less than I wanted to.  (This is not difficult, given the fact that I literally wanted to be in that theater every single day and sadly, those tickets are not easy to earn, and I do, in fact, have a day job).

Lovely and talented though Anne Hathaway and Audra McDonald were, I promise you it wasn’t either one of them I was desperate to binge on.  It wasn’t even my nerdy love of Shakespeare that kept me going back.  It was 100% Raúl.  During those few scant weeks he was hitting the stage at the Delacourte nightly, I wanted my life to be all Raúl all the time.  Because when would I get that chance again?  And because it made me happy and tingly and swoony to see him.

And that’s it, right there.  That’s when everything changed.  When my preference suddenly became scotch-swilling, hair-covered, heavy-browed, broad-chested, manly men.  If Gaston—that swarthy brute of Beauty and the Beast fame—walked past me on the streets of New York, I’d follow him like a puppy.  Will Swenson is suddenly more appealing than Hunter Parrish.  I mean, a few weeks ago as I eye-fucked the aforementioned gorilla in Joe’s Pub, Lucky was stuck looking on and I know she was immensely uncomfortable.  Not just because he and I were being kind of lewd, but because this was a girl she didn’t recognize.  This is a girl I hardly recognize.

And yet, my biggest concern these days isn’t that I barely recognize my own feelings.  Once I realized Raúl was the source of this whole…thing in my life, I actually started to feel much better about it.  No, my biggest concern is this: with Raúl only hitting the stage for four nights in Anyone Can Whistle, and the entire original cast of Hair off in London—having taken Swenson and Steel along with it—who the heck am I going to have inappropriate crushes on now?  Anyone have suggestions?

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