Then you deluged us with your comments, and we asked you to pick your own sexiest man alive. The results of this informal Salon reader poll are now in, with more than 200 people having made 76 nominations. The winner? No contest: Russell Crowe, the reader's choice by a mile, got 85 votes; the No. 2 vote-getter was Michael Vartan, with 18 votes.
Not only did you vote for the smoldering gladiator, but you also told us why he turns you on. Here are some sample quotes from reader e-mails:
"He has a voice that rumbles like a volcano before it erupts, that coats you like maple syrup over pancakes, and eyes that bore into your soul ..."
"He is not pretty but, boy oh boy, is he ever a man!!!!!!!"
"His love of children makes him 'sexy' to real women."
"He has the body of a blacksmith and the soul of a poet."
"The thinking woman's bastard."
Other respectable showings were made by Kiefer Sutherland (about whom one woman wrote a poem with the line "Whereas, he can make the words 'fluffy poodle' sound so simultaneously scary and sexy that they make Craig Kilborn blush"), Benicio Del Toro and Hugh Jackman. And yes, the usual suspects: George Clooney, Johnny Depp, Vin Diesel and Viggo Mortensen all got more than a couple of votes.
And as one would expect, the eclectic Salon readership came up with some interesting choices. One person picked Salma Hayek,explaining, " As the cross-dressing Frida Kahlo in the movie 'Frida,' she had way more masculine sex appeal throughout that whole movie than Ben Affleck has had in his whole life."
Another voted for Orlando Bloom: "It's somewhat amusing that a young actor portraying a 2,931-year-old elf had more sensuality in his bow hand than a whole stable of Teflon movie stars."
And there was this note accompanying a vote for Paul Newman: " Would anybody buy salad dressing with a picture of Ben Affleck?"
When we surveyed our own staff to compare Salon's choices with those of our readers, there was no clear winner, but the nominations were, uh, intriguing.
"Richard Feynman. Everyone knows that winning the Nobel Prize for physics is the definition of the word Sexy!" (We couldn't bear to inform this smitten co-worker that Feynman has shaken off this mortal coil and is therefore not technically qualified to be the sexiest man alive.)
"Former Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin. He's one of those dark, world-weary exotic men along the lines of Paul Auster, but he was a cabinet secretary! And a lot better at it than Paul O'Neill, to boot."
One vote went to Eric "Butterbean" Esch and one to Paul Krugman (no explanation given), and we had some salivating for Taye Diggs, Denzel Washington, Chow Yun-Fat and Benicio Del Toro. One staffer jumped on the reader bandwagon and voted for Crowe, fixating on one aspect of the actor's many charms: "Russell Crowe's armpit when he leans up against the prison to talk to young Lucius in 'Gladiator.'"
Though the Salon staff could not reach a consensus, we felt it necessary to make a judgment because, as Crowe's Maximus intones in "Gladiator," our actions on this earth will echo in eternity. So we herewith place the Salon staff laurel on the handsome brow of the only man who got more than one vote in our office poll: Bono.
As one of the voters enthused: "With his purposeful profile -- strong Irish nose and chin -- his meaty thighs, and his hymn-like devotion to love ('Love is the temple, love the higher law/ I seek to enter, and you make me crawl'), U2's lead singer and passionate advocate for global causes is the type of man who can take you higher ('El-e-va-tion!'). He obviously relishes the carnal as much as the celestial."
And for that we love him.