The Male Harem Hall of Fame, Submission No. 1

The Winning Team, Ireland: By National Library of Ireland on The Commons (Winning Team  Uploaded by russavia)

The Winning Team, Ireland: By National Library of Ireland on The Commons (Winning Team Uploaded by russavia).

Curating a Male Harem is not a science. If so, it would be more popular than Match and The Sultanette would be on Charlie Rose or even The View. Truth is, it’s had ups and downs. Past misfires have included the Opera Buff who after a season of overtures at the Met couldn’t crescendo. And Biscuit Boy who started off all Hugh Grant and ended up more Bela Lugosi.

But holding fast to the belief that the journey is the destination, The Male Harem continues to celebrate the best and brightest among people who have penises (see “person with a penis” at Whose monogamy is it anyway?) So today marks the launch of The Male Harem Hall of Fame series – a “what-if” riff on intriguing characters who emerge in the public eye as hypothetical harem candidates.

Who has the chops for harem membership? In this series, the question is pure conjecture and not an invitation. But if the exercise of examining the fascinating but flawed male tribe sharpens The Sultanette’s discrimination, eases harem management, and prevents future snafus, why not? In that spirit, I offer for your consideration …

Candidate #1:

Les Tres Riches Heures du duc de Berry octobre: Limbourg brothers [Public domain].

Les Tres Riches Heures du duc de Berry octobre: Limbourg brothers [Public domain].

Who better to begin this series than HRH Wine Guy, the proprietor of Castello di Amorosa in Napa Valley? (The Male Harem disallows proper names.) Reading his recent profile by Katy Mclaughlin in The Wall Street Journal prompted The Sultanette to ponder …

Can a king enjoy membership in The Male Harem if he’s not ruling the roost?

What he’s up to:

At 142,000 sq. ft. the $40 million medieval-style Castello di Amorosa has welcomed Napa oenophiles for over six years.

Size doesn’t matter to The Male Harem but authenticity is a come-on. So the castello’s website description as an “authentically styled 13C Tuscan castle” bears consideration. With an eye for the exquisite, HRH scoured Europe for artisans to recreate his 21C gem with genuine stone masonry, frescoed walls, and painted coffered ceilings. (Check!)

And if you think he’s all stuffy antiquarian, check out the dungeon artfully propped with medieval instruments of torture – the perfect room to repair to after a bacchanalian repast around the hand-carved oak table that seats fourteen. Or two. You might even find a first edition of The Story of O next to a well-turned rack. (Can’t imagine HRH stooping to the mass culture pablum of Shades of Grey).

At the rack.

At the rack.

HRH also knows to escape the madding crowd. When he’s had enough of castle life he heads down hill to his home-away-from-castle, a Victorian cottage he’s restored complete with gym, media room, and 3,000 sq. ft. wraparound porch.

Additional considerations:

Described as tall and fit at seventy-one, HRH is long past beer belly danger and we’re willing to wager he doesn’t wear a baseball cap backwards either.

The fact that he spent months in Europe hunting down ancient castles, monasteries and rustic farm houses, reveals a preference for discovering the world by other means of transportation than a golf cart.

While his great-grandfather owned a winery in San Francisco in the late 1800s, he is the son of a cab driver and attended Berkeley, suggesting a scrappy humility and liberal leaning that could lighten up any royal pretentions


The Journal reports that he has been thrice married and now lives with a girlfriend. The Male Harem has no problem with wives or outside affiliations but might HRH be a serial monogamist ever in search of a subject worthy of his majesty?

More problematic, the underbelly of his admirably scrupulous attention to detail warns of a regimentation that could prohibit, say, an impromptu caper along the castello’s 170 acres of forests, hills and streams.

Rating (on 1 to 10 scale):  7.8

If HRH Wine Guy spent less time perfecting the predictable past and more time invading the enigmatic present he might better cultivate the joie de vivre so crucial to the harem’s cherished belief in living in the moment. Contrary to the many males who believe it’s their same old way or the highway, he has exhibited due diligence in re-inventing himself. Maybe HRH could be inspired to expand his horizons further by another royal example who shared his passion for renovation …

Amusements at the Palais-Royale.

Amusements at the Palais-Royale.

Though only a prince, Philippe de France, brother of Louis XIV and duc d’Orléans, transformed the former Paris digs of Cardinal Richelieu into the Palais-Royale, a gathering place for courtiers. The duc’s colorful life and checkered past might be a little much for the squeaky clean Californian, but reputation aside, he created such an enduring presence for the Palais, it aged like a big, bright jammy vintage wine.

Over the years it was a romping ground for courtesans, a forum for revolutionary rants, a theatre for Moliere’s plays still performed at the Comédie-Francaise, and one of the world’s first shopping malls now home to the venerable vintage boutique, Didier Ludot, where The Sultanette once picked up a Chanel suit for a song.

Sometimes settling for a prince, or even a frog is enough.

The Male Harem invites you to vote on HRH and also to submit your candidates for future consideration in this series, be they strangers, uncles, brothers, or the random somnolent husband or BF who could use a dose of Male Harem enlightenment.