Arianna Huffington’s metamorphosis from start-up diva to media mogul is only the latest in a series of audacious transformations, all of which rest on a crucial, if overlooked, constant: she is a sex symbol.
Yes, you read that right. Sex symbol.
Legendarily coiffed, she’s as fond of girlish ruffles and racy black lace as she is of pantsuits—and is not above flaunting her yoga-toned limbs. All this at 60. But more interesting is the vintage of her wiles, which call to mind a courtesan’s techniques. Her allure resides in her effusiveness and intense focus. It’s present in her insatiable appetite for self-promotion—a hunger that includes lending her voice (and name) to a hot-to-trot cartoon bear on The Cleveland Show. Above all, it flows from her ability to make anyone feel fascinating.
These are the tricks of old media, best showcased over a long lunch. It’s notable, then, that it’s in the tech-driven world of new media—defined by its youth, its maleness, and its terminal lack of sexiness—that it achieves its most striking results.
Askmen.com describes her as “gloriously seductive.” She’s called herself “a regular cyberslut.” YouTube yields a smitten Time journalist asking whether she’d rather date Al Franken or Bill Maher. “This either or thing is so old media,” she coos at her interviewer, who giggles like a Belieber.
That geeky world is not unlike Cambridge in the late ’60s, where Arianna Stassinopoulos’ story really begins. The men of the Union, its debating club, didn’t stand a chance when the tall, glam Greek pulled up in her Alfa Romeo. Her nickname: “Staryanna Comeacroppalos.” If not yet aware of her power, she would have felt it keenly when elected the club’s president.