If you’re going to trust anyone with your man-hunting issues, you most certainly want to rely on advice from someone who sounds like they know what they’re doing. ‘Skanky Sally Slapper’ or ‘Madame Home Wrecker’ probably wouldn’t suffice. ‘Belle de Jour’, on the other hand, could seat you on a chaise lounge of pink silk and sweet talk you ’round to anything – most especially your heart’s love desires.
And indeed, Belle de Jour has done plenty of sweet talking on pink silk chaise lounges. The pseudonym of a former London call girl, the author rose to fame via her blog and subsequent diaries – The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl and The Further Adventures of a London Call Girl. These diaries have since been adapted into a hit telebision series starring British actress Billie Piper – Secret Diary of a Call Girl.
In De Jour’s Guide to Men, we learn how and why a high-class prostitute could possibly hold some answers to the whys and wherewithalls of those hairy beasts we tend to couple with. By her own admission, Belle de Jour knows men. Every conceivable shape, size and type. She has seen them at their most cock-sure and most vulnerable – and subsequently believes this ‘inscrutable species’ has been heavily misrepresented in the female press.
But don’t worry, she’s not letting the sisterhood down. Although she’s clearly out to prove that men, on the most part, have more to offer than commonly believed amongst the female race, the author most certainly believes it’s the girls who should be leading the relationship dance.
A footnote before we begin: Don’t be fooled by the sweet pink cover of this book. Note the strutting rooster up the top and the ripe juicy peach down below, and you’ll receive fair warning of the rich and raucous content. Read at your straightlaced peril.
I must admit, I first held Belle De Jour’s Guide to Men at arm’s length and squinted at it down my very long nose in the opening pages. But as I progressed into it’s neat little pages, I found myself bringing it closer and closer until said schnoz was well and truly buried in its perfumed pages (well, they’re not really perfumed, but they should be).
The title of Chapter 1 – Attending to Your Own Needs First – made me sit up straighter. Then the subheader gave me a giggle: A Man is For Life, Not Just for Christmas. So far so good. Here is a woman with self esteem and purpose, excellent priorities and a sense of humour. And yes, you will need a well-established sense of humour to enjoy this book.
De Jour doesn’t waste time when she writes. She gets stuck into things shamelessly (praise God she gives us an introduction of less than two pages; don’t authors realise no one reads an intro longer than two pages??). Very quickly we are asked to question if we have the available resources to support a man. We must not, according to the author, underestimate the amount of care and attention a man requires – ‘particularly at the training stage’. Indeed, even choosing which man you want is an enormous time investment one must consider carefully.
Also very quickly (though not too quickly), the author begins to talk about sex. She is, by her very nature, someone who not only loves sex, but believes it should be enjoyed more often, more enjoyably and with more partners – ‘preferably continuously’. And what is wrong with that? The author readily admits she’s often called a slag and happily takes on this moniker if it will accurately describe her penchant for sex, but also her reluctance to pigeon hole sex into neat little shame boxes.
All in all, a lot of this book comes down to sex and how it characterises both committed and non-committed relationships, and how it dictates and often defines both the misery and joy of human coupling. Indeed, according to the author, relationship debacles that hinge on sex explain why hookers exist.
But there is more than just sex and its peculiarities here. Belle De Jour advises how vital it is to know your relationship preference, to know your own mind. What do you really want from a man, and why? She then insists readers should understand their manhunting style, and provides a quiz to sort that out, spit spot.
In Chapter 2, she showcases the male in his natural habitat, and uncovers traits inherent to ‘northern men’, ‘southern men’, metrosexuals, intellectuals, sporty types and even the modern dandy. You might recognise the likely lad, the culture collector, the eternal youth and the nerd – they’re all here and they’re all laid bare for our viewing pleasure.
Chapter 3 gives us ideas on where the boys are at. Where you will snaffle him and the pros and cons of finding a potential mate amongst the chaff. We even learn valuable advice on how to identify the faux ‘Nice Guy’ – you know, the one who pretends he’s nice but is really a seething, self-serving lothario keen to hook you with a herpes barb the moment he can get your knickers off.
Concurrent with modern times, Guide to Men also looks at internet dating – and how to decipher the content of anything written on a profile or in emailed conversation. For example, if he writes ‘I’m very rich and you’re obviously a special lady’ he really means ‘I’m in my 50s, divorced twice and have three children to support’.
De Jour will not only help you syphon off the phonies, she’ll help you write your own online dating profile, give solid advice on profile photos (if his photo crops other people out, he’s still married), and give advice on taking 2D to 3D – ie: meeting in real life.
For those with such relationship luxury to pick and choose and play around, De Jour goes on to give advice on juggling several men at once, taking things from Friend to Boyfriend and I love this little shot of advice… remember that everyone is essentially twelve years old, and you’ll be fine.
Another thing I like about this book (other than the hilarity) is the no-nonsense praticalities. Essentially, getting one’s head out of the clouds and planting one’s backside firmly in the driver’s seat is the message here. Like the chapter How to be Alluring, subtitled Sort Your Head Out First, Then Your Wardrobe. May sound like the kind of advice mum would give, but ain’t it absolutely the truth?
It may sound basic, but learning how to be interesting and be interested are key components to snagging the right man, according to De Jour. And her mantra – Men only want one thing… unconditional acceptance – could not be more wisely said. De Jour certainly tells it like it is. Some women may not like it, some will love it, but all will laugh out loud and/or smirk at this saucy glimpse under the skin of the blokey genus.
Read it in the boudoir in your negligee and clacky mules whilst nibbling on liquer chocolates. Funny, cheeky, a little dirty – Belle De Jour’s Guide to Men may be a little tongue-in-cheek (as opposed to orifice, but then it’s that, too) but if such a book can leave you with a feeling of empowerment and genuine guidance yet also makes you laugh and feel curiously cared for… well – if only a real life man could be so good.