I touched the Hunky Werewolf. It couldn't be helped. Joe Manganiello, the dreamboat who plays Alcide on True Blood, has biceps so magnificent that they should be rendered in bas relief with the finest marble. They would not be out of place as relics in a medieval Catholic church in a dusty Umbrian village. The biceps exude a pull so strong as to be almost tidal. It would come as no surprise if, underneath the tight, long-sleeved T-shirt he wore on the night we met, his arms were bruised from the desperate squeezes of otherwise sensible reporters reduced to googly-eyed zombies by the sight and promise of those incredible guns.
Manganiello alighted on Estate last Saturday to promote True Blood; the season finale airs Sunday. Desultory industry types milled around the VIP room, picking absently at True Blood-embossed pens, markers, and tins filled with cinnamon-flavored mints. Perhaps the foul-tasting cocktails, made with HBO-licensed blood-orange soda Tru Blood, had distressed them. Whatever the reason for their docility, nobody rushed Manganiello when he arrived with costar Rutina Wesley.
Manganiello's character, introduced this season, has endured a number of Herculean challenges in his brief time on the show. He lost his fiancée, Debbie, to the ravages of vampire-blood addiction and her subsequent defection to a wolf pack under the sway of a megalomaniacal vampire with Nazi ties. He had to lock her in a dungeon!
Equally compelling was Alcide's role as a particularly substantive shoulder for Sookie Stackhouse to cry on — boyfriend Vampire Bill abandoned her, then attempted to eat her in the back of a panel van. The tender scenes of Alcide nursing Sookie must have accounted for my overwhelming wish for Estate's VIP room to catch fire. I'm fully convinced Manganiello would have lifted me into the air and cradled me as he ran to safety.
During our brief time together, I learned that Manganiello, whose Boston accent is barely discernable, grew up in Somerville. He enthused about his last visit to a favorite childhood haunt in Saugus. "Kowloon is awesome," he said of the Route 1 landmark. "I went there a month ago with my dad and my girlfriend. The manager comped our whole meal and put our picture on the wall."
But the life of a hunky werewolf isn't all restaurant-based adulation. "A fan at Comicon had heard that wolf saliva healed wounds," he said. "She asked me to lick her. Security got her out of there." His life has become fraught with random harassment. "The FedEx guy jumped off his truck and wanted a picture," he said. "There's a lot of weirdos."
It was around this time that my hand first grazed his bicep — the left one — in a sympathetic pat. I could scarcely believe what I was feeling. The consistency was unlike any arm I had ever felt, so impressive was its musculature. The next pat evolved into a squeeze; I squeezed twice more. Manganiello politely excused himself and disappeared into the crowd.