The other day, I was having a laser hair removal session* and gossiping with my lovely technician--who was telling me, of course, about her love life. There was some struggling musician in her life, who was singing the same old tune, like a broken record: He wasn't looking for anything serious. She was disappointed.
"You are so adorably pretty," I said--and she really is. "And so bubbly and sweet and wonderful! It makes NO sense that men aren't falling all over themselves to get to you."
"But they aren't," she told me. "And really, I'm starting to think being pretty doesn't has very much to do with it. My roommate isn't what you would call a looker--but she always has three or four men in rotation! I'm going to figure out how she does it, because really, she's got something going on."
* * *
That got me thinking about all the women I know who are like that: the ones who aren't particularly good-looking but might as well be giving away free beer, the way they attract men. What is it about them? I asked my guy friends to enlighten me. And here's what they had to say about the things that make a woman hot even when she's kinda ... not.
By way of an introduction, I will fill you in on what ELEVATOR MAN--yes! Elevator Man!--had to say:
"Confidence, charm, charisma: any or all of these will up the sexiness factor, always. Someone who is hot (or conventionally physically attractive) is not always sexy. Some of the sexiest women I've known have not been especially attractive in a conventional sense."
IT'S A TURN-ON WHEN SHE SHOW OFF HER PERSONALITY THROUGH THE THINGS SHE WEARS.
"A unique sense of style will make me think twice any day of the week. I'm always attracted to women who march to the beat of a different drummer--and who show off their uniqueness by the way they dress."
--KERMIE OTTAWA, a 30-year-old banker in New York City
IT'S A TURN-ON WHEN SHE'S AN ADVENTUROUS SOUL.
"I want to share my life, not pin it down. I've made the mistake of involving myself with someone, in the past, who wasn't interested in doing new things, ever; she always had excuses. It was something that limited me as an individual and, I think, really killed the potential for growth in the relationship, too. Ever since then, what I find incredibly attractive is a willingness to have adventures--to do something you've never done before."
--HILL VALENTINE, 24, an office manager in D.C.
IT'S A TURN-ON WHEN SOMEONE IS ESPECIALLY INTERESTED IN WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT.
"I'm sort of a nutball--all over the place, conversationally--especially after a few cocktails. And someone showing deep interest in what I'm saying--is something I find really attractive. Especially if she can deal with hearing about my inner life! (Which is not to say I'm into women who are attentive in an overly creepy and smiley way. But genuine interest is a huge plus.)"
--BEAR CUMMINGS, a 38-year-old lawyer in New York City
IT'S A TURN-ON WHEN SHE IS A BRICK ... HOUSE. (SHE'S MIGHTY, MIGHTY, JUST LETTING IT ALL HANG OUT.)
"I recently dated a woman who could dance like no other. Her looks were decidedly average, but when she hit the floor, she lit up the room. She'd spent years traveling around Latin America, hitting salsa and merengue clubs in random off-the-map towns to hone her skills. When she danced, she showed her poise, control, and creativity. Everyone wanted to be her partner. I started taking private salsa lessons just to catch up with her."
--MARKEE BROOKVIEW, a 34-year-old environmental activist in Miami
IT'S A TURN-ON WHEN SHE SENDS A SUBTLE MESSAGE THAT SHE HAS SEX ON THE BRAIN.
"A mischievous smile goes a long way--or, basically, sending a message that you like sex. A lot."
--CLIFF MOUNTAIN, a 34-year-old architect from Virginia
*Just about everywhere, to answer your question.