In honor of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s 25th Anniversary, A.C. DeLashmutt and Evan Allgood took a (very) fresh look back at the beloved series of futuristic fables, and asked each other the question that has been hotly debated by fans since the dawn of Comic-Con: when it comes to the Enterprise’s spandex-suited crew of intergalactic do-gooders, who is Star Trek’s sexiest? Set your phasers to “stunning,” because we’re about to run a Level 3 diagnostic on this thing.*
Today, A.C. fires the first photon Tropedo of our debate by eyeing-up the Men of Trek. Evan will return fire tomorrow.
So, Evan, let me begin by admitting that on a zero-to-ten scale of Star Trek fandom, with zero being “Never heard of it, because I am a member of an isolated Amazonian tribe,” and ten being “Marina Sirtis has a restraining order out against me, but only because she hasn’t gotten the chocolates I sent her yet,” I am probably a five. Although I don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of the Star Trek universe, nor the willingness to read anything about it whatsoever, I do have a lifetime of experience in being attracted to dudes. So with those watertight bona fides, let us proceed.
First, Evan, let’s spare a few golf claps for the sexy also-rans in this contest, fine men/Klingons/androids, all: Lt. Commander Worf; Lt. Commander Geordi LaForge; and Lt. Commander Data.
Worf is probably the strongest contender in this small field: he’s physically imposing and he’s always glowering around sexily. He’s an excellent fighter and protector, both fierce and fiercely loyal. Yet Worf is no heartless soldier: he’s loving with his son (name forgotten), whom he raises on his own. Downsides: he’s a real nut about matters of honor; he’s always kind of yelling; and he’s got a crazy alien-sharpei forehead set off by a hairstyle that combines male-pattern baldness with a ladies’ 1950s-style flip. Also, it is terrifying to imagine his style of lovemaking.
Moving on! Data is touching in his earnest pursuit to understand what it means to be human. And he’s so reliable! (Unless there’s some technical glitch that requires peeling his scalp open to poke a pen in there.) His general aptitude is excellent—he’d be great to have around when your Wi-Fi dropped out or you had some sort of microwave resonance problem that cascaded into a tachyon wormhole problem. But, when it comes to getting sexy, doing it with Data would largely be an exercise in self-pleasuring. Data is incapable of emotion. He’s literally a robot. Maybe if I were still twenty-two I’d find that enticing, but, no matter how good it sounds, faultless diction does not a sex-symbol make.
Finally, Geordi. Wonderful Geordi! One of the most well-realized characters on the show, he’s always vulnerable to affairs of the heart, and he gets to star in lots of embarrassing dating storylines that involve him gazing meaningfully into phallic crystals with space babes (“Aquiel”) or being naughty by himself in the holodeck (“Galaxy’s Child”). There’s just one thing that ruins his chances here: Reading Rainbow. Getting it on with the sweet-faced childhood friend who taught us all about the magic of books is downright pervy. Forget it, sickos. Back to the holodeck with you, Geordi.
Unlike the other Starfleet officers in our line up, First Officer Wil Riker isn’t hampered by some superficial aesthetic oddity (Worf’s Klingon skull; Geordi’s visor; Data’s artificial jaundice). He embodies a classic hirsute masculinity reminiscent of Brawny paper towels and Magnum, PI. He’s courageous, authoritative, and occasionally hotheaded, but he always puts the safety of his people first. He’s capable of leading his own command, but, ever loyal to Captain Picard, he sets aside his own ambitions to serve a greater good. Yes, his “ladies man” demeanor can sometimes stray into sleaziness—I remember him once describing a bit too enthusiastically the delights of the pleasure planet Risa. But I like it when he yells, and I like it when he laughs, which is often.
But, Evan, I’ll be honest: Riker isn’t the outright champion—he’s the de facto winner. And that’s because Captain Jean-Luc Picard just isn’t sexy. Yes, he’s portrayed by the thinking woman’s over-fifty sex symbol, Patrick Stewart: he’s got a Scottish accent, and he looks fine in a futuristic onesie. But as a character, he’s too freighted with principles and enlightenment to be a real man. Picard is an idealized man, a fictional expression of humanity’s highest self—a father figure, a teacher, a judge, a general. He could have been produced by the ship’s replicator—a Scotch that tastes like the real thing but will never intoxicate you. When confronted with the memory of his pugilistic, Lothario younger self, Picard scorns him as a “puerile adolescent.” He’s too grown up, too evolved—in his leisure time he plays the flute by himself, for Q’s sake!—and though beloved by his crew, as a man he’s almost as remote as the stars the Enterprise warps through. The sexiest thing about him is his vocabulary. Bottom line: he’s just not much fun. And no fun is not sexy.
Riker would have a beer and shoot some pool with you before taking you to his quarters and peeling you out of your uniform; Picard might sip a brandy and discuss Hamlet before thanking you for a lovely evening. When it comes to being sexy, Picard cuts an admirable figure, but on this ship, Riker really is Number One.
*We’d like to assure you that no future sexual prospects of any writers were harmed during the making of this review, but let’s be honest: they definitely were.
A.C. DeLashmutt is a Virginian living in New York. Her writing has appeared in McSweeney's, The Washington Post, theNewerYork, Flash magazine, and elsewhere. She also writes plays. Follow her on Twitter @acdelashmutt.
Evan Allgood's work has appeared in McSweeney's, The Millions, LA Review of Books, The Toast, and The Billfold. He lives in Brooklyn and contributes regularly to Paste. Follow and maybe later unfollow him on Twitter @evoooooooooooo.