Penelope Cruz, breasts on radiant display, covers the November issue of Esquire, the storied magazine for men who wear statement socks. She is, for the moment, the Sexiest Woman Alive. But the article about her, by two-time National Magazine Award-winning journalist and Deadspin Good Writering Award winner Chris Jones, is not really about her. She evidently didn't feel like talking much.
But Penelope Cruz is Spanish, and Spain is a place where people go to bullfights, and bullfights were a favorite subject of Hemingway, and Hemingway is the man's man's writer's writer—and so the unwitting reader who is trying to learn what might be up with the Sexiest Woman Alive (nothing?), is greeted by nine loquacious paragraphs about bullfighting:
"Some of them had forgotten, or maybe had never known, that a sword would be behind the red cape, and they began streaming out of Madrid's Plaza de Toros midway through the first fight... Madrid is a spectacular city. It can feel, in the height of August, when so many Madrileños make for the cooler coast, like the most serene of the great capitals. It is golden in the heat... And on that particular Sunday night in August, on amateur night, when three apprentice matadors were assigned two animals each, Madrid screamed first for the blood of a pure-white bull."
When we finally get to Penelope (who was nowhere near the bullfights) she is beautiful. She is so fucking beautiful. How can any man control his penis around her (Jones doesn't mention if he does or does not)?
She is impossibly beautiful. When she walks into a room, men start walking into furniture. Up close, however, she becomes almost hard to look at, like staring into the most unflattering mirror. When we meet strangers, we begin scanning their faces for their strengths and vulnerabilities, for the lights and scars that will tell us something about who they are and the life they have lived. Cruz has no physical flaws, the bent noses and crooked teeth we would normally use as signifiers. Her face contains no secrets, at least not about her. But her face tells you and the room plenty about you. If you want to feel like the world's most judged man, sit down at a table in a restaurant with the Sexiest Woman Alive.
And then, at the table with the writer, she orders a steak. A fucking beautiful steak. And Penelope fucks that steak.
She is always hungry, she says. She orders the chuletón de buey, a huge slab of bone-in rib-eye steak, seared on the outside and covered with coarse salt. When it arrives, the beef is so rare that it is crimson and gleaming in the middle. If it ever had a relationship with fire, their time together was insignificant and short. She stabs her fork into her first thick slice and cuts into it with her knife.
She has little more to say. She picks her splattered white napkin off her lap and rises from her chair. All that remains on her plate is a bone and a puddle of blood.
After that, unfortunately—with Cruz having focused her full energies on working that hot juicy steak into an exhausted puddle, rather than telling Jones anything about her family, her movies, or her politics—it's back to the matadors and the banderilleros. (Spoiler: The bull dies.)
Young journalists, take note. If you're ever so fortunate as to interview a celebrity (note: not a real career goal) for a "Sexiest X Alive" feature and the celebrity is not giving you much (because they're a celebrity, and the interesting aspects of them have already been mined and sold), write like Chris Jones! Turn your article into a meditation on bullfighting and describe the celebrity's limited-interview-access meal in the rawest, sexiest terms you can imagine.
(Of course, when faced with a Challenging Celebrity Situation, any journalist worth his coarse salt might actually educate himself on the actor-in-question's work and write about that, rather than meandering off on an impressionistic, useless, narcissistic tangent. This might help in preventing your female celebrity from coming off as no more than a pair of tits and a mouth with which to eat a piece of meat.)
Oh, also, get your magazine to commission this guy to do your artwork: