How to be a bad boy in 2023
You may have heard of Pete Davidson, recently pictured frolicking in the surf with his girlfriend of a few weeks – Chase Sui Wonders. If you haven’t, then Pete Davidson is the unchallenged number one Bad Boy of the past few years.
We can’t put an exact date on when he inherited the crown from, depending on your POV, the musician John Mayer or Russell Brand – but it looks like he’s going to be hard to shift from the top BB position any time soon. There just aren’t the blokes out there who meet all the criteria in the way that Davidson does and all he has to do is keep on doing what he’s doing.
At this point we must take a moment to make it absolutely clear that the Bad Boys to which we refer are Bad Boys in the tradition of Mick Jagger and George Best, say, not Andrew Tate. We’re talking about high profile serial daters who women (90 per cent of them celebrities) find irresistible, even though they don’t make the best long-term partners, but who are in no way misogynistic or toxic and who have never been accused of coercive control or assault like some we could mention.
We’re also not interested in the Charlie Sheen school of Bad Boy which is to say someone who has taken a lot of drugs and alcohol, got into many scrapes and who has definitely been very bad by any standards but who has never been especially (no offence) fanciable.
Here’s what it takes to be a top Bad Boy in 2023
A profession that’s never a lawyer or a doctor
Pete Davidson is a comedian and actor who used to be a regular on Saturday Night Live, so that’s not too alarming, but it’s not the Civil Service either. No BB has ever worked in a nine-to-five job with a pension.
A dating CV that reads like a Vanity Fair cover wish list
Shall we rattle off just a few of Pete’s ex-girlfriends? OK. So there is Ariana Grande, Cazzie David (daughter of LA royalty Larry David), Kate Beckinsale, Kaia Gerber (daughter of Cindy Crawford), Phoebe Dynevor of Bridgerton fame, Emily Ratajkowski and Kim Kardashian. His current girlfriend is the niece of fashion designer Anna Sui, making her probably the least connected woman he has been out with.
A reputation that makes parents tremble
It’s rumoured that the Gerbers said they were waiting for their daughter’s brief liaison with Davidson to “fizzle out”, which is Universal Parent Speak for “Help Us! Our daughter’s with Every Parent’s Worst Nightmare!” Or what The Sun newspaper would refer to as “a Shagger”. No doubt Pete is delightful company and his devotion to his mother (widow of a 9/11 New York firefighter) is sometimes mentioned in despatches but… you know. He’s famous mainly for bedding women. It’s hard to get your head around that as parents, charm or no.
Must have tattoos, good looks, or both
Davidson’s body looks like one of those tea towels made up of kids’ scribblings that private primary schools put together for the parents at Christmas. It also looks like a red flag to those of us born before 1970, as do those Calvin Klein tightie whities worn under his swimming trunks. That doubling-up signals lots of not good things as far as parents of daughters are concerned, not least that he can’t keep it contained with just regular swimming trunks. Davidson is permanently having to get his tattoos removed (the latest to go is the one featuring Kim and her children’s initials). Ink in haste, repent at leisure, as they say.
Must not be macho
It’s been said of Davidson that part of his appeal is his vulnerability. Evidently he’s not afraid to admit he’s sad, has issues, needs help and this is typical of the modern BB. What you often find with Bad Boys is that they have a) good manners, and b) they are somewhat effeminate. They’re happy to wear nail varnish and jewellery and dye their hair and speak in baby voices – it’s kind of a ruse with them actually. (Note: not much change here, although back in the day you also had your George Bests. Now the Bad Boys are mostly like Jack Grealish and wear hairbands.)
People who look like Bad Boys usually are
Colin Farrell would be a case in point. He looks like he’s been a hellraiser since he was old enough to walk and a heartbreaker since the age of 15 – and that’s pretty accurate. He seems vulnerable too, and maybe he is, but that is, as we’ve established, part of the BB armoury. Just because you clean up your act, doesn’t mean you throw out the old techniques. Equally, there are some people who look a lot like Bad Boys and almost certainly aren’t, like Tom Burke. And others, like Boris Becker, who look like retired golfers but there’s a BB in there.
The ultimate BBs go on and on. We’re talking about Mick Jagger, who may well have put away his BB shoes but hadn’t when we last checked. He’s famous for being a Rolling Stone, though. With Davidson, the BB rep looks like it’s eclipsing the rest.