The secrets of rock-star mojo revealed!
My wife and I have one of those sex freebie lists; the 5 celebrities you’re allowed to sleep with, without repercussions, should the opportunity arise.
Yes, I know, it’s stupid. But if you’re paying attention, it can offer a fascinating window into your partner’s tastes.
For me, the main thing that gets my motor running are potty-mouth comedians. My idea of bliss would involve being the meat in an Amy Schumer/ Sarah Silverman sandwich.
But for my wife, it’s guitarists.
Her list is almost entirely rock guitarists. Dave Grohl is on there twice. Twice! I guess for emphasis.
Which presents a problem.
My wife has a spectacularly foul mouth, and she’s one of the funniest people I know. So I’m very satisfied.
However, I don’t play guitar. Like at all. I couldn’t strum a chord if my life depended on it. I don’t even air guitar particularly well. When I try, I look like I’m having a vaguely rhythmic gallbladder attack.
It’s hard not to feel like my lack of guitar chops might be an inadequacy. My wife insists it isn’t, but I’ve seen the way she stops blinking whenever Dave Grohl is on TV, or how she mentioned to me way too many times that there’s a video online of Lenny Kravitz’s penis popping out mid-guitar solo.
And she’s hardly the exception. If I can make a gender generalization, women love guitar players. It’s been proven with science.
In a 2013 French study, 300 college-aged female students (18 to 22 years old) were approached by a stranger in the street who told them, “You’re very pretty, we should get a drink sometime.”
When the guy was carrying nothing, only 14% of the women responded favorably. But when he was holding a guitar case, 31% of the women not only stopped to talk to him, but even gave him their phone numbers.
In a 2012 study conducted in Israel, using female students at Tel Aviv University and Ben Gurion University, 100 single women were sent a “friend” request on Facebook, from a guy they didn’t know, introducing himself with the amazingly lame greeting: “Hey, what’s up? I like your photo.”
A variety of guys were used for the experiment, and in one particular category, 28 percent of the women said yes to the fake friendship.
Can you guess what the most popular type of guy was? The one with a profile pic of himself posing with a guitar.
Men’s Health has 33 Simple Sex Tips to Turn Her On, and not one of them is “Learn the stupid guitar part from that stupid ‘Your Body is a Wonderland’ song.” But maybe it should be?
I reached out to several experts on human psychology, hoping they’d have some insight on why playing guitar—or even just owning a guitar—makes a guy seem more desirable.
With few exceptions, they reached the same conclusions: Women love guitar players because they want to have their babies.
“Females of many species select the best male musicians as mates,” says Geoffrey Miller, Ph.D., an evolutionary psychologist at the University of New Mexico and co-author of the new book Mate: Become the Man Women Want.
The males deemed most sexually desirable are usually the ones “best at vocal music, like frogs, birds, whales, or howler monkeys, or at instrumental music, like crickets that ‘stridulate’ (the sound they make by rubbing their wings together).”
Great music, Miller says, is only produced by the “healthiest, most energetic, most intelligent animals. This has been true in our species for a long time—at least 30,000 years, according to the prehistoric bone flutes discovered some years ago.”
If I can paraphrase what I think Miller is saying: On a basic level, Jack White isn’t all that different from a howler monkey. And 30,000 years ago, guys who knew how to play their “bone flutes” were super popular with women.
It’s hard to argue with that logic. Especially about bone flutes.
“Guitar skill—like many forms of skilled expression—provides a display of intelligence and creativity,” explains Jon Maner, Ph.D, a professor of psychology at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
“Mating with an intelligent and creative partner increases the likelihood that one will have children who are intelligent and creative, and this is good for one’s own reproductive success.”
Reproductive success. It’s not two words most of us would associate with rock guitarists.
A few years ago, I interviewed Sammy Hagar for a website called MTV Hive. He told me that Van Halen had sex tents under the stage during their concerts.
Yes, sex tents. Tents for the sole purpose of having sex.
During any live performance, the band would have 8 to 9 women waiting for them in the tents, and during a particularly long guitar or drum solo, they’d go underneath the stage to have sex with these female fans.
Now, I mean this with the upmost respect for Hagar, but if one of those 8 to 9 women found out that they were pregnant with Sammy Hagar’s baby, I’m not fully convinced that their first thought would be, ‘Yippee! Reproductive success!’
Greg Bryant, Ph.D., a communication studies professor at UCLA, agrees with me that claiming guitarists are attractive because they’d make ideal baby-daddies is intrinsically insane. (Or, in his words, “Waaaaay a stretch.”)
Except, on some biological level, it also makes complete sense.
He compares guitarists to peacocks. “The peacock tail is this ridiculous, elaborate trait that only the males have,” Bryant says. “It signals something about their quality. People have proposed that music could be, at least in part, a sexually selected trait.”
But that’s the deep-rooted animal part of our sexual instincts. What about our human capacity for reason and logic?
“I think when it comes down to it, a woman may look at a guy with a guitar and go, ‘Yeah, that’s attractive, but he’s probably a huge pain in the ass.’”
Which isn’t to say that all guitarists would make terrible partners. But if you date or marry a guitar player, you do have to accept the possibility that he may one day give a magazine interview in which he describes you as “sexual napalm.”
Bryant suspects it may not specifically be their music ability that women find attractive, but what this ability suggests about their creative ability.
“If you are a writer or are an artist or you’re really good at some task, that could be evidence that you’re smart, and women have preferences for that,” he says.
It also helps if you’re doing a public performance. “If you have a bunch of people’s attention for a sustained amount of time,” Bryant says, “that suggests that you’re worth listening to.”
It’s a great relief to those of us who don’t actually want to take the time to learn how to play a guitar. Because honestly, when you reach a certain age, it’s just not going to happen. Especially if you’re only doing it to seem more attractive to women.
There are few things as douchey in this world as a guy who knows a few Beatles songs because he thinks it’ll get him laid.
But how do you create, as Maner put it, a “display of intelligence and creativity” without, you know . . . the public displaying part?
As a writer, my job involves being creative and at least attempting to be intelligent. But I usually write in private, in an office, without ever being watched by other people, certainly not a crowd.
If I want my wife to look at me the same way she looks at Dave Grohl, should I start typing in front of her?
I gave it a shot. I brought my laptop to bed, and made sure she was watching. She looked at me like she’d look at a homeless person defecating on the subway.
“What the hell are you doing?” she asked. “Why are you making that face?”
“What face?” I asked. But I knew what she meant. I tried grimacing as I wrote, the same way Carlos Santana does when he hits an especially pleasurable note.
Apparently it doesn’t translate.
Anka Radakovich, a certified sexologist and the author of The Wild Girls Club Part 2, gave me another explanation for the appeal of guitar players that proved more helpful.
“While we watch him play his guitar, we are fantasizing that he is strumming our ‘clitar’,” she told me. “Guitar players are notorious for being good with their fingers.”
Aaaaaah. There it is.
So maybe it’s not about public displays of creativity, or musical ability that equates with making pretty babies. Maybe, when women are being transfixed by guitarists, they’re just looking at the “chord changes,” if you know what I mean.
Miller more or less said the same thing when he explained all the traits that make guitar players attractive to women. Among the top selling points, he told me, is “the manual dexterity to master the fingerings.”
Yes, of course. “Master the fingerings.” It’s all starting to make sense.
I’ll be bringing my laptop back to bed tonight. And this time, I’ll make sure I put plenty of emphasis on my “fingerings.”
Yeah, I know it probably won’t work. But I refuse to let Dave Grohl get all the glory.
(The story originally appeared, in a slightly different form, in the December 2016 issue of Men’s Health.)