Help Michael Phelps Get His Sexy Back

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How can we help Maryland’s Mr. Phelps get his sexy back to good PR effect, Baltimore? Or at least locate his innate sexy, if he’s possibly never flaunted it to begin with? The guy needs only three more medals — to add to his 16 — to call himself the biggest winner in Summer Games history. (That’s sexy, but not enough, evidently.) Jill Rosen of The Sun was rightly up in arms yesterday after a New York Times article crowned Phelps’ chiseled chief competitor Ryan Lochte “this Olympics’ all-American swim hunk.” She’s right, The Times is figuratively handing Lochte the gold as they dally over details of his “blue eyes, aquiline nose and dimpled smile,” and go on to explain that Lochte’s “emerging as the bigger story.” For shame, lame cultural era.

Lochte’s been on the cover of Vogue; he has a nonchalant catchphrase, “Jeah,” which is, right, simply yeah with a j instead of a y. And he is uncommonly pretty of face, if you like that in your swimming man. Advertising guru Bob Dorfman does. He’s extremely intrigued by Lochte, while confessing to be “Phelps’ed out.” Ouch.

Still, deep-grinning Michael Phelps has so much going for him — physically, mentally, height-ily — I thought we should put our heads together to come up with some creative tips for revamping his slippery image, especially if his Olympic mood and performance might be favorably affected. See below, and please add your suggestions.

Ryan Lochte, below, is a competitive swimmer, not a soap opera actor.

How Phelps can catch hotter buzz and hot Olympic groupies:

Look funny. Display your authentic sense of humor*/try standup comedy. Phelps has a great face, full of warm, expressive character and humor. Like likeable Jay Leno and adorable Conan O’Brien, the swimmer could someday soon be splashed across America’s hearts and minds, not just for swimming fluidly, but for cracking us up, and reminding the world he doesn’t have to take himself super seriously, no matter how many gold coins he wins. (Okay*, the SNL gig didn’t go so great, but I’m guessing a guy who’d agree to be photographed in the body suit above must have hearty humor reserves worth tapping.)

Look sweet. Work the family ties angle further. Love that Phelps just shot a Subway ad with his clothes-designing mom Debbie. Maybe they could start a fashion line together — with a concept more practical than House of Dereon. I’m picturing flattering, athletically smart swimwear for young and middle-aged alike. Call it 16 Medals. Or possibly…19.

Look cool. Don’t get busted again with a marijuana pipe in mouth. Consider getting snapped sampling a legal hookah pipe in Baltimore instead. Festive gesture would demonstrate a small sense of rebellion and prove that Phelps is a pro swimmer who likes to have acceptably rowdy fun in a hip, youthful setting. And it might give him standup material.

Look different. Go blond, temporarily. Like Johnny Depp in The Astronaut’s Wife. Or blue. Hair is news in 2012.

Look artsy. Speaking of blue, coat long, fit bod in blue paint and surprise guest star with The Blue Man Group. They could use the twist.

Look celebrity-coupled. Complete one high-profile date with either Taylor Swift, Lindsay Lohan, or Kim Kardashian. If that fails, offer to godfather Snooki’s baby. Encourage baby to stick to goals.

Look generous. Give one gold medal to a poor kid who dreams of going to the Olympics, but currently has little chance of getting there. Or give one to a sick kid. Why hog them all, MP? I think it’s a nice thing to do regardless of the PR result.

Look carefree. Get a calligraphic tattoo on your immense chest that says, not that life’s about the journey, but something original and/or poetic in which you believe. A seriously large tat is bound to make it on “Entertainment Tonight.” Such coverage can only up your odds of swimming well and winning g-medals, am I right?

Get unique catchword. Maybe a spin on the word awesome? Add a ph and it becomes Phawesome. Or radical. Phadical. But don’t do it with cool.

Further suggestions welcomed below.


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  1. B, I find that body suit highly disturbing. And hilarious. I can’t decide if I’m terrified or not, but I’m definitely snort-laughing.

  2. I think of it like abstract art, Lily Ruth’s Mama — it conjures a mix of emotions. Not all good. But I come away from looking at the bodysuit…wiser.

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