(Pg. 3: Editor's Letter)
For the seventh straight year, the editorial staffs of AARP, The Magazine and People are proud to team up to bring you this, our AARPeople Sexiest Man Barely Alive issue.
Starting on page 52, you'll get an up close and personal look at this year's numero uno, not-a-wrinkle-out-of-place beefcake, along with 24 more of the hottest, hunkiest, most continent geezers and wheezers still drawing breath. (As in years past, all SMBA finalists are at least 90 years old, non-ambulatory and/or have a terminal condition.) Ladies, get ready. These mega-mature gentlemen's hearts might nearly be done beating but that doesn't mean they won't get yours racing!
As always, the job of winnowing the winners was harder than a senior smoker's arteries. Our process began by looking over the photos of literally thousands of incurably studdly incurables from around the globe, a group that, thanks to advances in medical science and technology — and much to our tired eyes' consternation! — grows by leaps and bounds every year.
After that, it was out into the field.
Where we searched. Beat the bushes. Looked here, there and in intensive care. We scoured retirement communities, nursing homes, hospital geriatric wards, MedMarts and Miracle-Ear stores. We combed the myriad musical venues of Branson, Mo., the scores of Bob Evans restaurants between Sarasota and Miami Beach and everyplace offering anything for free.
We sought out and sized up the prone, the upright, the stooped and the scootered. And if you think we left any stone-ager unturned, consider this: One of our "Pops" stars is a neglected, housebound and bedridden centenarian who's kept hidden away in a small back bedroom of his son's house in suburban Denver. How'd we find him? Let's just say a little caseworker bird told us.
Of course, the proof is in the pappy, gummable pudding. So check out this year's "tasty dishes." They're totally scrump-diddly-critical.
Victoria Syndeth, Special Edition Editor
(Pg. 52: Sexiest Man Barely Alive)
His looks? Think classic. Like the coarse, worn, desiccated yet classic topography of the Grand Canyon. His style? Lively, responsive. You'd swear he was freshly defibrillated. His scent? The bracing, distinctive musk of Calvin Klein's Hospice, favorite of the codger cognoscenti and the only cologne formulated to mask the odor of a colostomy bag.
But don't think this year's top-ranked senile sexpot is just the sum of a few alluring parts. He's the sum of several transplanted and artificial parts as well. And whom do they all add up to? Lemuel Sheridan, Social Security's rambling answer to whatever the question was.
More dish? At age 92, Lemuel, a retired underwear model for the Sears catalog who's currently lingering in the assisted living wing of the Valhalla Retirement Village, isn't afraid to seductively flaunt what he's got. For instance, there's his one remaining original tooth, a tooth he couldn't stop flashing for our camera. And then there's the hospital gown he always wears backwards — out of pride or confusion is left unsaid! — that leaves nothing to the imagination. Which is not to say Lemuel is vain. Far from it. In fact, we had a hard time even getting him to talk about himself. In his disarmingly charming way, it seems he'd much rather make complaints to the nurses ... about the nurses.
Classic looks. Wakeful. Charismatic. Provocative. Selfless. Is it any wonder he's such a total hen magnet? Unh-unh. Mark this year's sexiest man's medical chart "DDR": Definitely DO resuscitate!
(Pg. 60: #9 Sexiest Man Barely Alive)
Not many men could turn macular degeneration into a come-hither gaze, but Stan Bloomberg can and does. And that's just the first arrow in his love quiver. As a follow-up, once he lures a lady his way he turns off his hearing aid and, by doing so, gives them the (false and endearing) impression he's listening. Smoooooth! The sidecar mounted on his motorized cart has a way of working its magic on the ladies, too. "Believe me," Stan assures us, "if I didn't have testicular cancer, I'd be getting plenty."
(Pg. 63: #13 Sexiest Man Barely Alive)
From the ripple soles of his orthopedic shoes to his big and boxy "fitover"-his-regular-glasses sunglasses, from the cuffs of his high-water high-waisted pants to the liver spots on his shiny scalp, one thing is clear about Phil Demmerling: He can stand up. Which, let's face it, no matter how stooped, is hot! We discovered Phil, 96, at a smokeless bingo game in the basement of St. Cecilia's in Natchitoches, La., his breathing tube hanging loosely, insouciantly, under his nose, his tank of oxygen painted with the rebel legend "Born to Lose ... a Lung." Rrrrruff! Never has ambulatory been so amatory.
(Pg. 68: #24 Sexiest Man Barely Alive)
Some nonagenarians like to reach out and grab life with both arthritic hands. Others know how to relax. To take life as it comes. And Julio Ramirez, 94, who's about to enter the third year of his coma, is just that way. Let's call it "prone" to accept things. We find Julio's laid-back approach to be muy caliente. Anyone else thinking sex-Mex tonight?
(Pg. 71: Close)
To see and read about SMBA finalists who did not survive their flash photography photo sessions, log on to aarpeople.com.
CONTACT BOB WOODIWISS: His column appears here the last issue of each month. His book, Keys to Uncomfortable Living, a collection of humorous and satirical essays, is in bookstores now.