Ten Minutes With Betsy Prioleau
Author of the newly released Swoon
Betsy Prioleau is author of Swoon: Great Seducers and Why Women Love Them as well as Seductress and Circle of Eros (do you see a pattern?). She taught cultural history at New York University before moving to Pound Ridge. We talked about the great seducers of past and present.
Does society need ladies men? Yes, women crave ladies men. We are in a romantic slump. The promise of a sexual revolution—of sexual parity—didn’t pan out. Men stopped being suitors.
What’s the most surprising thing readers will learn from Swoon? Seducers are not satanic rakes. Real seducers want women to love them. They’re not just interested in having a woman for the night.
You talk about Duc de Richelieu—two women dueled with pistols for him. What’s his secret? One of the most charming men in all of France. Sexually precocious. Fabulous conversationalist, flirt. He adored women. He never bored them and could ruin them with a smile. Constantly turned on by women—and was a great comic.
What do all seducers have in common? Tastes fluctuate, but there are constants. They really, really love women. They have fabulous sexual charisma—an innate electricity that radiates from them. I don’t know if you can acquire that. They practice love as an art.
What advice do you have for women in spotting a seducer? If a man is genuinely attuned to you, you are four steps ahead. Many men are not 100 percent present—they’re more interested in business or sports than women. Great seducers are wholly focused. Fabulous conversationalists. And great listeners, bringing the best out in women.
When you go to Bedford parties, can you—do you—categorize men into your different seducer categories? Oh, sure. Once you have your antennae up, you can definitely spot them. And I talk to other women who say the same thing. These men make you feel like you’re the only person in the room. They will appreciate what you are wearing.
Anyone local come to mind? Bill Clinton is a perfect example. When you shake his hand, for that moment you are the only person he is interested in. It’s extremely flattering. It’s quite erotic.
How does sex come into play? It’s centrally related. These men are closer to the horn-dog than the ho-hum end of the sexual spectrum. They love women and women’s bodies. They are also very interested in pleasing them.
What can men learn from the book? The heart of manhood is to please women. Men get their skills from porn, locker rooms, and other men. There is no education in love. Men could profit—women could profit—from re-enchanting relationships. Ladies men have the potential to make men better and not resort to this silly pickup advice. —Geoffrey Morris