Who's Sexier, Les or Bear?

I expect quite a few Novelspot readers are trying to make sense of that subject line, so I'm hoping the fact that it contains the word "sexier" is enough to hook you. And you don't have to be familiar with either Les "Survivorman" Stroud or Bear "Man v. Wild" Grylls, two survivalist stars of the Discovery Channel, to weigh in on the debate.

I brought up Les in my infamous "Shirtless or Naked" post back in February, and he is a frequent subject of my personal blog Erotica with Soul. In the interest of full disclosure I will preface the discussion with an admission I adore the guy. But again, I can be objective for the sake of argument, really I can. (And yes, more people than ever are finding my blog by googling "Les Stroud naked." And I still have no naked photos of him, not even shirtless.) But I digress...the question is, which type of guy is sexier to YOU. Because out there on the Les, Bear, and Discovery Channel boards, the debate is furious and endless. Here on Novelspot, we are experts on romance and sexiness, so let us try to clear this all up, shall we?

Let's review our candidates, starting with Bear and his show. "Man vs. Wild" is about a swashbuckling ex-Special Forces guy taking on the worst nature can throw at him. Bear is a highly athletic, agile, tough and fearless fellow, whose abilities are far above average. He's young, handsome, and can climb rocks--he holds the record for youngest guy to climb Mount Everest. And...wait for it...he's British. (swoon) On the show, Bear does everything he can to prove his prowess, from crossing bubbling volcanoes to eating live fish. Seems like a pretty fine swashbuckling hero to me, and his fans are understandably in love with him.

"Survivorman," meanwhile, is more truly about survival techniques, and the show's claim to fame is that for each episode Les spends a week entirely alone, and does all his own filming himself. Les doesn't have any particular interest in calling attention to his personal prowess, and in fact, sometimes showcases his failures. He's 45, a tad balding, just slightly handsome, and Canadian. To a die-hard Canuckophile like me, that's second best to British, but it's not classic romance hero material, eh? In the plus column for Les, you have the fact that he writes the show as well as films it, and that he is a professional musician who plays harmonica and guitar and has a drop-dead gorgeous singing voice. Okay, my opinion, but just take my word for it.

Now, some of you may have seen the headlines recently that on MvW, some of Bear's adventures were faked. They threw charcoal and fake smoke in the volcano, the crew built his "self-made" raft, the bear that attacked him was a guy in a bear suit, that sort of thing. The lack of integrity is admittedly a big negatory, so let's set all that aside for today. After all, Bear didn't fake climbing Everest; he's still a remarkable guy.

No, the comparison I want to make is this one: Who's sexier, the daring, physically superior, suave young Brit...or the "everyman" Canadian who adds isolation and artistic filmmaking challenges to his plateful of starvation, dehydration and hypothermia? Deep down, which type of hero is more likely to seduce us? Do we go for the man who is self-confident and brilliantly talented? Or for the man who is alone in the wilderness with (seemingly, due to his filmmaking style) no friend but us?

It's an interesting thing to consider, because females are drawn in by both types. The guy who walks in the room and takes charge and declares he will have his way with us...well, that's hard to resist. But so is the guy who seems capable and brave, but also vulnerable...and in terrible need of having us understand and care.

I've fallen for both types in books--for Rhett Butler and for Mr. Rochester--but both these programs are reality shows, and to me that changes everything. When you step out of fantasy and into real life, a guy like Les has a lot more appeal to me. There is a palpable integrity about him; you honestly know when he's afraid, and consequently, you also know when he's not, so he comes across as possessing bravery rather than bravado. His willingness to show vulnerability, clumsiness, and even stupidity, ironically make his strong qualities more believable.

[Sidebar: While it's pretty sexy for a guy to be able to leap across gorges and look good doing it like Bear does, it's a lot sexier for a guy to know that in a survival situation you have no business leaping across gorges.]

So, that's my preferred guy in reality. But in fiction, in fantasy, what then? I guess there's room for both types of heroes, or for protagonists who combine prowess with vulnerability. If I were trapped on a desert island in real life, I'd want Les with me rather than Bear. But if I were a character written into a book about that castaway situation...

Well, I'd still pick Les, but that's just me. :-)

Diana Laurence is the author of the Soulful Sex anthologies of erotic romance fiction, and released her newest book Bloodchained
in September (www.bloodchained.com).
Diana's works are published by Living Beyond Reality Press (www.livingbeyondreality.com.)
Visit her at www.dianalaurence.com
or enjoy her blog at www.eroticawithsoul.blogspot.com.