As usual, Phoenix is way ahead of the pack on this one. The lad most prominently featured in the Marie Claire spread ("We call this new breed of bachelor Ben Jones -- the male equivalent of Bridget") is Phoenix's own Mark Broadley, a man whose heart can be won with a Chapstick, who isn't frightened when a strange man offers to dress in drag for him. Mark, who was discovered by Marie Claire being handsome and open-minded at a friend's wedding in Texas, is in pharmaceutical sales. But don't worry: If you're a seven-figure-a-year CEO, Ben, I mean Mark, will still keep you on his "To Do" list.
New Times: So, I'm sort of confused. Your name is Mark. Who is this Ben Jones character again?
Mark Broadley: I think they were trying to tie it into [the book and film] Bridget Jones's Diary, where Bridget Jones was looking for a cute, smart, successful guy to complete her. The article is looking at 50 guys from across the country who somewhat had their act together and at some point would be marriage-ready. The stereotype is that girls are always looking, but guys are just looking for a good time.
NT: You're the featured guy in the spread -- there are 50 men in the article, but the whole first page is a photo of you. How'd that happen?
Broadley: Just luck, I guess.
NT: The headline on the cover is kind of cheesy: "50 Great Guys Who Want to Marry You." Are you looking to get married?
Broadley: I'm not in any hurry, but if the right girl comes along . . .
NT: How come guys never say, "I want a wife with a giant bosom who will suck my hog twice a day"?
Broadley: (Laughs.) I hope we've evolved beyond that. You have to be looking for more than a good time; you have to look at [someone's] personality. There has to be a certain level of attraction there, but it should also be someone who's kind and caring and makes you feel comfortable.
NT: Oh, come on. It's not just "kind and caring." No one wants to end up with an ugly person. What if a girl is nasty-looking? Then the rest of that stuff kind of doesn't matter.
Broadley: It has to be a combination of the two -- physical attraction and other things. Like a girl I went out with the other day noticed that my lips were chapped. And the next time I saw her, she brought me a Chapstick. That went a really long way.
NT: There are so many potential responses to that story, I don't know what to say first.
Broadley: Well, I mean, a Chapstick costs $2. She was thinking of something other than herself. That matters!
NT: Are you getting bags of mail since the Marie Claire article came out?
Broadley: Define bags of mail.
NT: You've been getting mail.
Broadley: Well, they set up an e-mail address, [email protected], and yeah, I've received a couple hundred e-mails in the week since the magazine's been out. Some from guys!
NT: Horrors! In the article, you're quoted as saying, "I have huge plans for the rest of my life -- and the person I'll share it with. Only for the right woman will I reveal them." If I put on a dress and a big floppy picture hat, will you tell me about your huge plans?
Broadley: No. I'm a very open person, you can ask me anything. But I also reserve certain things, and one of them is my plans. I want something that I've kept secret for that one woman in my life.
NT: What's the response been from your guy friends about your being tagged as today's fresh catch?
Broadley: Less than flattering. They jest. They poke fun at it, but it's to be expected. They respect me for putting my feelings on the line, but sometimes it's a guy's job to give another guy a hard time.
NT: Here's some data from the Marie Claire article that I refuse to believe: "87 percent of men think it's sexy to date a woman who earns more than they do."
Broadley: You want my opinion? Absolutely. As roles change, and women now are more prominent in the workplace and earning a lot of money, it's perfectly respectable to date a girl [who] makes more money than I do.
NT: But would you marry her?
Broadley: Absolutely. Gone are the days when guys feel they have to be the breadwinner. Now, if she wanted to have children and stop working, I'd be the breadwinner for the family. The worst-case scenario is you have more money. Ask guys. I think they mostly feel that way.
NT: But what about these magazine articles that try to redraft the whole marriage and dating scene? I mean, you do realize that this stuff is just cooked up by magazine writers and editors, right? Ben Jones is just an old story -- boy wants to meet girls -- that's been recast.
Broadley: But at the core of society, it's an important story to tell: "Hey, guys, let's notice that there are guys who want long-term commitment, too." There are guys that are good guys, too, who are not just out for something less than that.
NT: Sex? Say it!
Broadley: Well, yeah, but it comes down to two people wanting to be together, which gets lost. Even though you think it's just a story that's been recast, I see patterns in all these letters I'm receiving from these ladies. One of them is "How refreshing it is to hear from a guy's point of view."
NT: Okay. In the spirit of Marie Claire, let's wrap up with a Tiger Beat quiz. Mark, what's your favorite color?
Broadley: What's Tiger Beat?
NT: You don't know what Tiger Beat is?
Broadley: I grew up in South Africa.
NT: It's a magazine for teenaged girls. Lots of photos of androgynous, preteen boys, and these inane articles like, "Will Donny Marry You If You're Not Mormon?"
Broadley: Hmm. I'll have to look for that.
NT: Okay. Tiger Beat quiz: What's your favorite color?
Broadley: Probably red?
Broadley: Blue! I don't know. Green, maybe? I'm a guy. Are we supposed to have a favorite color?
NT: According to Tiger Beat, you are. You're also supposed to have a favorite movie.
Broadley: I definitely have a bunch of those.
NT: You're only allowed to have one favorite. That's what makes it a favorite.
Broadley: One of them would be Shawshank Redemption.
NT: A prison movie! Okay. What's your favorite organ meat?
Broadley: What's organ meat?
NT: Liver. Heart. Spleen.
Broadley: This is what I'm supposed to eat?
NT: Mark, how do you expect to land a wife if you don't know what organ meat is? And refusing to eat it could be a deal breaker, you know.
Broadley: I'm open to it. I've had liver before. Is foie gras liver? I like that.
NT: Maybe finding a wife in a magazine isn't your best bet. Have you thought about doing it the old-fashioned way, like on a reality TV show?
Broadley: I won't be doing any of those just yet. But I'm open to anything. I'm just very flattered [that Marie Claire chose me]. And sometimes it's just a case of "You're never going to get the job if you don't file the application."