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Kristin Booker • January 29, 2012

The Sexy Back Diaries Celebrates Cinematic Icons Of Sex Appeal: Ellen Barkin

Ellen Barkin. Image source unknown.

As someone who is working to get her sexy back, I am on a quest for women who have that certain “thing” that makes them incredibly sexy. I admire women who are wickedly intelligent with their sex appeal, the ones that make you think and send an electric shock through the room, able to wield their feminine power like a perfectly-poised bow and arrow. Every week I’ll salute women who have inspired us to be smart AND sexy. First up is one of my all-time favorites: Ellen Barkin.

Originally told she couldn’t play sexy roles because of her unconventional looks (this was during a Christy Brinkley, blonde babe phase in America) she basically bucked convention and won a role in a movie that almost no one wanted, Sea of Love with Al Pacino.

Ellen Barkin and Al Pacino in Sea of Love. Image courtesy of NBC/Universal Pictures.

I actually was too young to see this movie when it came out, so I had to sneak into the theater when it came out. Barkin’s portrayal of a complex woman who has a rather straightforward outlook on love and sex (and possibly a homicidal impulse) solidified me as a fan of her work forever.

There are many roles where she plays sexy but not intentionally so. The first sex scene between Barkin and Dennis Quaid in The Big Easy is possibly one of the most erotic scenes in cinematic history, even though neither of them ever really disrobe.

Ellen Barkin and Dennis Quaid in The Big Easy. Image courtesy of Columbia Pictures.

She even makes body snatching look hot as a man trapped in a woman’s body in Switch. From Ocean’s Thirteen to her most recent critically-acclaimed turn on Broadway in The Normal Heart, she’s a smart, determined woman who is very much an icon of personal power and allure.

The reason Barkin is a sex appeal icon to me is because there’s a very “dame” quality to her. Very much like Gena Rowlands and tough chicks of cinematic yore, even when Barkin is playing naive and bottled-up, she’s still very much in control of herself. You know that she knows exactly what she’s doing, that’s she smarter than the people she’s paired up against. It’s one of the main things I like about her sex appeal: you know she knows precisely what to do and how to handle herself.

Hence, I salute one of my favorite icons of unconventional and smart sex appeal. Here are my three Weapons of Barkin-Level Mass Seduction from all my favorite scenes in her movies:

You need a pump. Preferably something in black or definitely red, like these gorgeous Stuart Weitzman Platswoon Pumps.

Barkin also knows that a good pink gloss is the ultimate in seduction (draws them in, accentuates the shape, not too overt). There’s no better gloss at this than Dior Addict Ultra Gloss (not sticky, not tacky and really delivers.)

Ever one with the best body, it was really hard to pick a favorite look from all her film roles. For me, it’s hard to beat the white tank and jeans from Sea of Love for pure appeal, but you have to give it up for the woman showing up in a bandage dress in Ocean’s Thirteen, much like this Herve Leger Square Neck Bandage Dress. Fitted always looks better than baggy.

On screen and off, this outspoken woman continues to impress and make her mark on the world and on Hollywood. For never backing down and for her particular brand of appeal (which she’s said, “isn’t for everybody”) I salute her as one of my favorite icons of sex appeal. Smart, in control and a woman who knows exactly what she wants.

 

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