November 12, 2002
EMINEM MAKES 'EM MELT
By DEBORAH SCHOENEMAN
HE raps about hating his ex-wife and wanting to kill his mother, but Eminem is making New York women swoon.
"He's delicious," says Natalie Din, 25, owner of Believe It NYC, a downtown clothing store. "Look at that cute little face of his and that tight little body. I want to have his babies."
Women of all ages have been racing to theaters to see "8 Mile," comprising more than half the audience for the movie's impressive $54.5 million opening weekend.
"I can't believe that I like him, but I do," admitted Victoria Balfour, a 48-year-old Manhattan writer who caught the movie on Friday and may go back and see it again with her friends - who she says are more excited than their teenage daughters.
"He has a wounded vulnerability," she says. "It makes us feel protective."
Besides wanting to mother him, Balfour and her friends are drawn to the rapper's raw sex appeal.
"I think he's dangerous-looking and angelic-looking all rolled into one," she explained. "He has great cheekbones, great masculine, expressive hands."
Eminem probably won't trade in his baggy jeans for Armani slacks anytime soon, but his appeal to successful New York women hardly surprises dating expert Samantha Daniels, who founded a matchmaking service for city slickers.
"The women who I work with in New York are all overly successful in lots of areas," says Daniels, who has plenty of Eminem-loving clients.
"If men don't have overtly aggressive confidence or an extra edge, they're not interesting enough."
Shakti Shulka, a 29-year-old Internet marketing manager, and her friends are drawn to Eminem's strong character.
"I think he's sexy," says Shulka. "No. 1 for any man is confidence, and this man makes no excuses for his behavior."
And what about those nasty lyrics about wanting to rape his mother?
"That's not to say we are approving of misogyny, we just enjoy him for his entertainment value. But hopefully every album won't be ringing the 'my mama sucks' bell."
Celine Rattray, a 27-year-old HBO executive who dates Details editor in chief Dan Peres, finds the rapper "immensely endearing" and "amazing."
"I don't think he hates gays, I think a lot of it is just a show," she says. "He's trying to get a reaction from people."
It's tough to get a firsthand account of Eminem's true bedside manner. Women in his life, who included Mariah Carey and possibly Brittany Murphy, haven't kissed and told.
But imaginations - and pulses - are running wild among "8 Mile" audiences, thanks to a hot lunch-break sex scene with Murphy that gives new meaning to the term autoerotic.
"I didn't realize how hot he was until I saw the movie," said Alex Garcia-Mansilla, a 29-year-old social worker whose law-student pal Liz Squires is just as giddy.
"He has a beautiful Rodin-sculptured face," she trilled.
The film shows a tender side of Eminem the public hasn't seen - and some other parts as well. But some of Eminem's longtime fans view his "8 Mile" converts as lesser admirers.
Yvette Lucente, a 24-year-old New School student who saw the movie opening night, fell for his first album came out three years ago- much to the chagrin of her friends.
"Now they all agree with me," says Lucente. "People are really jumping on the bandwagon."