The recent cover of Rolling Stone magazine is disturbing for more than one reason. First, there's the picture: pop star Justin Timberlake...

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The recent cover of Rolling Stone magazine is disturbing for more than one reason.

First, there’s the picture: pop star Justin Timberlake, sopping wet, striking a quasi-Springsteen pose with a guitar. (Let’s hope the boy owns that guitar, because all that water will ruin it.) Does he even play guitar?

Then, there’s Rolling Stone’s bold proclamation that Timberlake — once just “that one dude from N’Sync” — is now “the New King of Sex.”

Finally, the self-declared dean of rock critics — Robert Christgau — reviews Timberlake’s new album “FutureSex/LoveSounds” with the words: “He knows more about sex than you do, and when he talks about whips he doesn’t mean cars.”

Justin Timberlake — King of Sex? I know young Justin is a fixture on People’s Sexiest Men Alive list (a list which has, in past, featured Nick Nolte). I know his hit single “SexyBack” is rife with junior-league, vanilla perversion references like “You see these shackles, baby? I’m your slave / I’ll let you whip me when I misbehave.”

But — for real? Must the men of this world bow down and let this usurper take the throne? Must we simply allow Timberlake unquestioned dominion over the fantasy lives of post-adolescent girls, gay guys and three-quarters of “The View?” Must we simply accept that while previous generations could look to, say, Clark Gable or Elvis or Barry White as the exemplar of male hotness, we’re stuck with a former Mouseketeer?

I say no.

I say, if Timberlake is the so-called “King of Sex,” it’s time for a peasant revolt! We can do better than this. Somewhere out there, the real King of Sex awaits his (or … her?) coronation.

If you wish to join the noble crusade to strip Timberlake of his ill-begotten crown, examine these candidates:

Nick Cave

Oh, so Timberlake thinks he writes some hot lyrics? This dark Australian post-punk balladeer’s sauciest rhymes would cause the family publication you’re reading now to auto-combust if we reproduced them here. Cave is a far more qualified romantic field general than Timberlake.

The drawbacks: Skinny; wears creepy suits (but some people are into that sort of thing.)

Camille Paglia

Can a woman be King of Sex? Hey, it’s the 21st century! Can an academic be King of Sex? In the case of Paglia — a fire-breathing self-described “feminist bisexual egomaniac,” who made her mark writing provocative essays about sex and gender relations — probably. (Anyway, if the answer’s “no,” you tell her, because I’m not gonna.)

It’s been nearly 20 years since Paglia scandalized old-school feminists and many others with her pro-porn, pro-getting-it-on essays. But she still has a certain something.

The drawbacks: The song is “Hot for Teacher,” not “Hot for Media Studies Professor.”

That dude from

Arctic Monkeys

His name is Alex Turner, actually, and his heavily accented confessions of zitty-faced, awkward encounters with the fair sex come a lot closer to reality than the fantasy-land bump of “SexyBack.”

The drawbacks: Judging by his lyrics, may be a virgin.

Billy Dee Williams

He’s Billy Dee Williams — what more needs to be said? Sure, he’s spent the past few years, um, acting in horror films alongside Snoop Dogg. But he’s Billy Dee Williams! He played Lando Calrissian! He’s the only person in history to make Colt .45 malt liquor sound sexy!

The drawbacks: Pushing 70 (not that there’s anything wrong with that).


Finally, consider the cross-over potential of a morose, ambiguously gay, supposedly once-celibate Brit. Who needs Justin Timberlake to “bring sexy back” when the pompadoured old man of New Wave has already summed up the global erotic situation:

“A double bed / And a stalwart lover for sure / These are the riches of the poor.”

The drawbacks: Though many of his fans remain waifs, Moz has packed on a few kilos in recent years despite being a vegan. In his defense, many of them are in his hair, however.