When I walked into Elita’s house for our session her friend Lilly was sat in a chair, all blond curls and red lips, looking up at me from slightly hooded eyes. Her nervousness showed in the tight wrap of her gown around her body, concealing her lingerie where a more confident escort might have emphasised it enticingly though an artful gap in the material.
Writing about the session afterwards I searched for a word to capture her somewhat wide-eyed look, with its alluring combination of innocence and sexiness. I came up with Ingénue.
Literature, theatre and film, from the ancient Greeks to the present day have always included ‘stock characters,’ defined by their type and instantly recognisable to the audience of the day. Had this been the 1920’s, Lilly might have taken Ingénue roles in early cinema alongside Mary Pickford, with whom she bears a more than passing resemblance.
Of course, casting Lilly as the Ingénue demands that Elita and I take other stock roles. For Elita the search was rather short and I cast her as the Femme Fatale or, in the language of early American Cinema, the Vamp. I hope she won’t take umbrage at this for she is in truly illustrious company. The character of the ‘fatal woman’ has existed since the sirens lured Homer onto the rocks or Delilah became Samson’s undoing. The femme fatale achieves her ends through her beauty, her charm and her sexual allure. Hollywood’s film noir era of the 1940’s and 50’s was built on such characters. Ava Gardner’s character in The Killers was a great example; one lift of those eyebrows and I’d have murdered her husband for her in a heartbeat. The Femme Fatale is very much alive and well, as anyone who has read Gone Girl or watched the film will attest.
Elita has the presence and the power to pull off such a role and I often feel myself dragged into her orbit, helpless to resist, knowing only pain and suffering can come of it. So, yes! Elita will play the Femme fatale.
So what of me? Wikipedia tells us, and so it must be true, that the Ingénue is ‘usually a target of the Cad; whom she may have mistaken for the Hero’. Sadly, I feel I must rule myself out of the role of ‘Hero.’ For Cad the dictionary gives us ‘a man who behaves dishonourably, especially towards a woman.’ Hard for me to walk away from that one; after all I cheat on my wife, paying attractive young women for sex. However, I try always to treat the sex workers I see honourably and Cad seems such a narrow and derogatory term. I’ve decided that I don’t want to be a Cad and so, as this is MY blog post *pouts a bit*, I shall choose again.
The term that pops up in dictionary definitions alongside Cad is Rake. Now we’re getting there. With it’s links to the Restoration Comedies of the 17th century, this sounds somehow less pejorative and even somewhat tinged with glamour. Rakes are distinguished by their sexual licentiousness (check), alcoholism (partial check), and gaming (double check). So I shall play the Rake!
Ah, but if only it were so simple.
You see, as with stock characters all the way back to Homer, the poor Rake has been analysed to within an inch of his life and then partitioned, segmented and subdivided by literary historians with, frankly, too much time on their hands. It seems I must label myself either the ‘polite rake,’ a ‘witty, and well-bred character, who dominates the drawing rooms’ or a ‘debauch’ who indulges in ‘fornication, alcoholism, and hypocrisy.’
I sort of wish I didn’t know the answer to that one!