Junkee Roundtable: Who Is Your Weirdest Celebrity Crush?
"Was... was Willy Wonka flirting with me?"
Crushes can be a bit boring these days. Everyone loves Mahershala Ali. We’re all engaged to Dev Patel. Emma Stone is still a Dream Girlfriend. I challenge you to find one person on the face of the planet who wouldn’t smooch Beyonce if given the chance (lol, you will never have the chance).
What’s way more interesting are the crushes we don’t talk about: the embarrassing and/or unexplainable attractions, or the ones that you haven’t been able to escape since adolescence. It’s not taught in sex ed but, once you hit puberty, you’re pretty much attracted to the next person — famous or otherwise — you come across. We asked our writers to share their own:
My crush on Ricky Ponting was mostly a matter of convenience. Every kid at my Kanga Cricket had been given a gift bag that included some Milo samples, a shit hat and a poster of a different Australian player. I got Ponting, a then up-and-coming batsman I’d never heard of before. But the rules of primary school are that if you acquire a poster of anyone remotely famous, they become your new favourite by default. So I loyally blue-tacked Ricky up on my bedroom wall, where he remained until I turned 13, puberty hit and my feelings started to intensify.
I was, I realised, madly in love. I added Ponting’s name between two rose emojis to my MSN handle. I stuck up more posters. I started imagining, in incredible detail, what our wedding would be like (and cried 1,000 tears when he married his actual, IRL wife later that year).
I eventually had to call it quits on the crush and move onto fanging for Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z when one of the posters — which featured Ricky slightly bent over, in position at the crease — needed to be thrown out. I’d been kissing Ponting on the bum every night before I went to bed, and the pine lime Lipsmacker I had a habit of wearing had caused the high gloss paper to erode.
Roger Radcliffe – 101 Dalmatians
I think most 90 percent of the crushes and relationships I’ve had in my life have stemmed, in one way or another, from Roger Radcliffe in 1961’s 101 Dalmatinans. (Don’t talk to me about Jeff Daniels in the 1996 live-action adaptation, not interested, give me the cartoon).
When most girls I knew were picking Disney princesses and imagining their lives with Prince Eric or Aladdin or Hercules, I was wearing down an old VHS to giggle at Roger Radcliffe slinking around and roasting an old woman who wore dog skins. Roger was a kind and goofy songwriter whose dog tricks him into falling in love. He’s well-dressed and lanky and funny and artistic, and once I hit about 12 I started giggling in a much more suspicious and confused way.
Roger Radcliffe had the stupidly British charm of Hugh Grant that I’d later find in Notting Hill; the same kind of blond boy-ish artist as Leo in Titanic. He has one major quality in common with every guy I’ve ever crushed on IRL and, when I told my boyfriend about this list he danced around our house doing dorky jazz hands. Never let me near a dog rescue shelter.
In the year 2007 — when MySpace, Jackass, Smosh, and the emo look took over the cultural zeitgeist — nothing was more sexy than a skater. And the hottest skater of all time was Tosh Townend: a C-grade professional with long, blonde dreadlocks who hung around with actual famous people like Bam Margera and Steve-O, sometimes. Probably quite rarely. Yes, my biggest celeb crush is actually more celeb-adjacent.
The crush was based entirely on this photo from Tosh’s Myspace fan page and the knowledge that his birthday is in March, like my other celeb crush Luke Pritchard from The Kooks.
One fateful Saturday morning, I took a bus, two trains and a ferry to Manly to meet Tosh Townend IRL at a signing with his acquaintance Bam Margera. I was convinced it was the moment he’d fall in love with me. I lined up with my Bam-loving friends for two hours to have Tosh silently take the poster from my hand (“He slightly grazed it!”), scribble his autograph and wave over the next person.
After I walked away, I felt such a release of nerves, excitement and the assurance that he was an actual living, breathing person that I burst right into tears. I walked down the Manly Corso, heaving with sobs, repeating, “He touched my hand” over and over. Another skater fangirl walking past even said, “Get a life!” to which I very aggressively yelled, “YOU DON’T EVEN GET IT!”
Chanel Cole – Australian Idol
For what seemed like every single night of the year 2004, my family and I would squeeze together on our puffy blue couches to watch Australian Idol. My sister and I would fight about the relative talents of each contestant, and at the end of each song we would deliver our (ludicrously brutal) criticism. This wasn’t light entertainment. This was life or death karaoke.
2004 sticks out to me for another reason: Chanel Cole. When I was 12 years old, I became absolutely besotted with the New Zealand-via-Bega singer. I spent hours on the internet watching her audition clips and finding rips of her cover of ‘Walk On By’. I didn’t know why. All I knew was I wanted to stare at her face for hours.
When it was rumoured that she was dating fellow contestant Daniel Belle, my heart hurt in a way I hadn’t experienced before. When she was finally voted off, I was distraught. I remember curling up on the big puffy blue couch and crying my eyes out. Though my sobs, I heard my dad mutter “Sheesh, it’s only TV.”
It wasn’t only TV, Dad. This was the love of my life. Although, oddly enough, it would take me eight more years to work out I was gay.
Phil Spencer – Location, Location, Location
I have a penchant for watching trash on Foxtel while visiting my family which means I’m rather fond of the odd property show. Each one — and there are many — has its own peculiar delights.
On Selling Houses, it’s the bafflingly bad style decisions of interior designer Shaynna Blaze. On The Property Brothers (or My Dream Home), it’s the intrinsically Canadian dorkiness of hunky identical twin hosts Jonathan and Drew Scott. But, for me, Location Location Location excels above all others: the nearly two-decades-long partnership of Kirstie Allsopp and my official Weird Celebrity Crush, British real estate agent Phil Spencer.
Phil Spencer is a rapscallian, a trickster. He makes excessively British double entendres. Phil Spencer is your classic kidult. In one episode, he spots a drum kit and — against Kirstie’s advice — sits down and gleefully bashes away. Phil seems like such a genuine, stand-up guy — whose long-documented friendship with Kirstie feels almost too real for the TV camera lens — I can’t help but go a little gooey over him.
I have a pretty well-articulated love of a silver fox too. Some of my favourite celeb crushes include Idris Elba, Richard Roxburgh and Jeff Goldblum — all of whom I am convinced have bettered with age. So it is with Spencer, who I feel has gotten sexier as he’s aged over 16 years on camera. Always handy with as naughty joke, or a goofy grin, I would down a gin and tonic on a date with this property Knight In Shining Business Suit any day.
Those icy blue eyes, that superior half-smile. No, I’m not talking about Jake Gyllenhaal or Jude Law. My inappropriate celebrity crush is the original Willy Wonka, Gene Wilder.
Perhaps it was the proximity to chocolate. As a child I had an insatiable sweet tooth, so watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory already tapped into my fantasies. But then the big man himself came along, with his frilly shirt, purple blazer and cane. Suddenly my heart was beating faster.
It’s not that I found him inherently attractive. But something about his playful yet condescending attitude really did it for me. Was… was Willy Wonka flirting with me? Now that I’m older, I realise that he’d mastered negging before The Game was even a thing. Which makes this admission all the more shameful.
Leela – Futurama
Look, Leela was always going to appeal to anyone smack bang in Futurama’s target demo (nerds). She’s a kickass, beautiful mutant with a spaceship who absolutely cannot get enough of fighting aliens/Amazonians/friends/President Truman. The latter is what I grew to love (something my psych should probably look into: Leela hated everyone.
Give Leela the chance to be witch? She’ll take it, so long as she “gets to hurt people and not just dance around at the equinox”. Her good friend Bender is horribly beaten in a pulp? That’s ok, because the important thing is that Leela got to beat up someone who was mean to her in high school (who, to be fair, was an actual piece of shit). The one time Leela thought about giving up violence is also the time she cut off Zoidberg’s head.
Finally, ‘Leela’s Homeworld’ will always be one of the show’s highlights, and it’s impossible not to feel a little bit of sincere, actual love for the character in that finale. Katey Sagal’s reading of “you’re my parents! All I’ve ever wanted is to know you. This is the happiest moment of my life” will never, ever not make me cry.
Mike Goldman – Big Brother Up Late
Big Brother holds a very special place in my heart and was a staple of my teens. While Gretel Killeen hosted the main event, Mike Goldman would present Big Brother Up Late every night, from midnight until some ungodly hour. For those unfamiliar, it was the program that aired just before The Up-Late Gameshow with Hotdogs, and it was about the same quality.
When I was in high school I suffered pretty bad insomnia, so I would spend my nights having Big Brother Up Late playing on my television until I fell asleep. It was in my bed, feeling lonely and struggling to catch Zs that I met Mike and fell in young love.
To explain his behaviour on Big Brother Up Late is mind-bending. He would literally just fill space in time with pointless conversation with himself. Mike would crack cheesy jokes, laugh at his own punchlines, at times appearing to be slowly sinking into madness; often undressing, dry-humping the couch and even presenting the show with his butt cheeks. I couldn’t escape him.
Neri – Ocean Girl
You’re probably looking at this picture of Ocean Girl’s Marzena Godecki and thinking “Duh, you have a crush on her. Who wouldn’t, you normie loser?”. After all, her cameo appearances on Round the Twist credit her simply as “Beautiful Girl”.
But I’m not talking about Marzena Godecki. I’m talking about the character she plays on Ocean Girl, Neri.
Neri is a weird crush because she is an alien. Her dad died soon after her spaceship crash-landed on Earth and she was forced to fend for herself while growing up on a deserted island. Her only friend is a humpback whale called Charley. Somehow Neri can communicate with Charley.
As the show goes on, we discover that Neri travelled to Earth for a very specific reason: to save our oceans from all the damage humans have done to them.
She’s an alien who can speak to whales and is trying to save the planet from environmental destruction. She taught a whole generation of Australian kids to love nature… and she taught me how to love as well.