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A book review of Frank Langella’s memoir “Dropped Names” offers a glimpse of the charmed life that unapologetic womanizing alpha males lead. Reading these bios of iconic historical players, greats of a golden era of gash before feminism sucked the color out of life, one begins to notice patterns in their attitudes and their behavior. Of course, there is the unrestrained sexuality — there are strong hints that Langella was bisexual, or at least enjoyed the spectacle of flirtatiously taunting gay men, and he was no stranger to bedding past-their-prime aging starlets — which provides the energy that fuels their conquests, but there is also a particular suite of personality traits that they all hold in common. The Dark Triad features prominently among these men, but so too does a knack for pleasing women by telling them what they crave hearing. Alpha males are simply better than other men at helping women experience good feelings through verbal communication.
Regarding that ability to instill good feelings, here’s Langella on an older Rita Hayworth:
He waxes philosophical about his on-set affair with Rita Hayworth when he was 34. It was her last film. She was 20 years older and suffering from alcoholism and early Alzheimer’s, yet, “in the candle’s light and fire’s glow,” Hayworth “once again becomes the Goddess.”
What the book reviewer misses (predictably, since this is the NewYorkBetaTimes) is that older women lap up flattery more hungrily because they hear, and feel, so much less of it than they did when they were younger, hotter, tighter. But that quibble aside, the impression you get of Langella is that he knew when, and how, to serenade women with words. The Woman is nature’s inborn narcissist; she loves to feel loved because at heart she feels worthy of all the world’s love. She has a vagina, after all. And who but a narcissistic man — the equal in narcissism to Hollywood starlets — could know how to properly satisfy that female need?
But the book’s stylistic imperfections add to the sense that you’re reading the uncensored diary of an indefatigably social and curious man, a modern-entertainment-industry Samuel Pepys. Narcissistic? Sure. [Langella] grants that he was especially “selfish and obstreperous” in his youth. But he’s inspiringly game.
And here we see in Langella that common suite of personality characteristics that one finds in others like him. An executive summary of the alpha male beloved by women might look something like this:
1. Be social.
2. Be curious.
3. Be narcissistic.
4. Be the mirror that reflects what women want to believe about themselves.
5. Be selfish and unpredictable.
6. Be sexually nonjudgmental.
The best players of past and present are ever-searching for new experiences, their curiosity unquenchable. They love themselves, and women are nothing if not viscerally intrigued by overconfident men. They follow their own rules, and women love rule-breakers. They are selfish, and women, despite what they say to the contrary, adore the company of self-oriented men. They are sexually unburdened, knowing as they do that an attitude that might burden a woman with doubts about her actions and cause her to dwell too laboriously on the potential consequences is a road leading away from sex.
And, perhaps most importantly, they speak the language of women.
Many acolytes to game focus their attention, justifiably, on techniques like negs (backhanded compliments) and qualifications (implying women fall short of one’s expectations). This is a good thing, because it’s in these areas that most men fail badly. But the flip side to challenging a woman’s ego is caressing her ego so that she feels free to relax around you and give her love without regret.
When Elizabeth Taylor says, “Come on up, baby, and put me to sleep,” who is he to resist? (He does make her chase him first.)
The alpha male is no stranger to flattering women; he’s just better at contextualizing it. His compliments and sweet nothings don’t hang like dead weight in a vacuum like so many beta males are apt to do with their cloying attempts to woo women. He knows that women can’t appreciate flattery from a man unless and until it is bracketed by a powerfully alluring self-regard and seasoned with a hint of manly condescension.
By his cheerful debauchery, Langella reveals something certain commentators have obscured: sluts are the best — hungry for experience and generous with themselves in its pursuit. He talks about how joyful it was in his 20s to “throw some scripts, jeans and a few packs of condoms into a bag,” and head out to do plays and bed theater apprentices.
Sluts are indeed the best for the peripatetic alpha male hopping from bed to bed. But sluts are far from the best for the beta males married to them, or dating them. One thing the player community must acknowledge — and I direct this in a most general way — is that the encouragement of sluttiness, and the lack of judgment of same, while certainly good for overcoming anti-slut defenses and cajoling women into surrendering their most precious asset, is not so good for society as a whole, nor for the state of male-female relations in the aggregate. The male aversion to committing long-term to inveterate sluts exists for a good reason: sluts really are a worse deal for men who have evolved to subconsciously desire paternity guarantees. Men really do value relatively chaste women more as resources in whom to lavishly invest their time and energy. Players should therefore take care to qualify their pro-slut sentiment as the sex-maximizing tactic it is, rather than some sort of high-minded philosophical stance they often like to pretend it is.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that it’s a prerequisite to suspend one’s subconscious slut judgment and actively encourage in women the jettisoning of any and all incipient shame if the lifestyle of the glamorous cad is your goal.
There is so much happy sexuality in this book that reading it is like being flirted with for a whole party by the hottest person in the room. It’s no wonder Langella was invited everywhere.
If you can successfully couple an attitude of happy sexuality with bemused mastery and outcome independent self-possession, you too can live a Life of Langella.