17 August 2009

Men: The Ultimate Bad Boy

By Lorelie Brown

First off, let me just say I'm stoked to be here at Unusual Historicals, for more than one reason. My ability to be included here means my debut, currently titled JAZZ BABY, is going to be published (Samhain; Spring 2010). This is the culmination of a life-long dream--and the first step on a long journey, I hope. Secondly, Unusual Historicals is such an awesome place to be a part of, considering I get hot for history. (What, too much?) So me, my irreverence, and my over-use of parenthesis will hopefully be around for a good long while.

Oh, bad boys. We romance readers have such a love for them, no? From the Black Knight who gets the girl anyway, to the rake who strides through ballrooms in his gleaming boots and seduces women left and right (but never touches a virgin!), the bad boy gets his sexy on. Yum.

And who's more bad than gangsters? The modern day notion of gangsters started in the 1920s, when US Prohibition laws made alcohol forbidden. (Little known fact: it was not illegal to drink booze, just to buy or make it. So if a pint of rum just fell from the heavens at your feet, feel free to get blotto.) Gangsters had boatloads of money, most of their business was done in clubs and bars, and really, that whole Prohibition idea was kinda crazy. So breaking laws about it was looking out for the common man who just wanted to get his drink on.

Makes sense that gangsters would be great fodder for bad boys. Heck, Hollywood caught on a long time ago.

How about Al Capone:

Hmm. I don't know about you, but he's not really doing it for me in the looks department. He had a bulletproof car, though, that was later used as President Franklin Roosevelt's personal limo after it was seized--that's pretty cool.

Unfortunately, there's that whole St. Valentine’s Day Massacre thing. An attempt to get back at Bugs Moran in the increasingly violent Chicago mob wars, Capone had seven men lined up against a wall and assassinated. Each victim ended up with somewhere between 15 to 20 bullets in them. Gruesome stuff. And he died of syphilis. That sucks. I'm not thinking Capone's redeemable.

Well, OK, how about George "Bugs" Moran, who ran the North-Side gang in Chicago and was Capone's mortal enemy?

Now he's a pretty decent looking guy. He still doesn't do it for me, but I can get the appeal. He supposedly dug monogamy, so yay, no syphilis! One problem--that nickname. He got the name "Bugs" from being bat-shit crazy. Plus he was super-murderous.

Moving right along, now, we've got John Dillinger:

The guy certainly had charisma, that's for damned sure. And there's that whole Robin Hood-like aura that hangs around him. He stole primarily from banks during the 1930s Depression, and the people could get behind that, all things considered. (By 1933, a third of the banks had failed, and there was no FDIC at the time to back deposits. So imagine if you woke up one morning and found out your entire savings/retirement account was simply gone.)

By many sources, Dillinger only ever killed one man--Officer Patrick O'Malley--and some people even swear up and down that Dillinger didn't even kill him. But...well...he still hung out with killers. The whole Robin Hood image isn't quite right, either. He stole from the rich alright, but the only poor who got a cut of the loot was Dillinger himself. And one account has him leading a gang-rape at thirteen. Gah.

So, alrightie then. Maybe the real bad boys aren't quite where it's at. The heart of gold? Usually stolen. I think I'll stick to my fiction.

Just to rinse the pallet, I'll leave y'all with a picture of the most recent spiffed-up Dillinger incarnation. Now there's a bad boy I wouldn't mind spending some time with: