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Trading his guy card for happily ever after

Can a self-professed cad change his ways? For the right woman -- then he can write a memoir.

March 03, 2003|Irene Lacher | Special to The Times

Ladies, sheathe your daggers. Rick Marin, the budding Howard Stern of the literary world, is out of the cad business.

He was pretty good at it for a while, judging from his new tell-almost-all memoir, "Cad: Confessions of a Toxic Bachelor" (Hyperion), which offers women an entertaining day pass into the scary minds of smarmy single guys. And now he's demonstrating one of his techniques of seduction, which, against all odds, involves his thick-rimmed glasses.

This move is called the Pensive Nibble, which follows the Earnest Swipe. It starts with Marin whipping off his glasses like an amorous librarian and looking soulfully, albeit a bit bug-eyed, into the eyes of his quarry as his lips slowly enclose the tip of an earpiece.

The woman at his side bursts into laughter. "That's what you did to me when we met," she says, and turns to an observer. "Wouldn't you have thought that was a joke?"

Ilene Rosenzweig certainly did the first time Marin tried it on her in real life -- and meant it -- six years ago. And it's no coincidence that the two are getting married in Italy in May. Because when it came to beguiling Marin, Rosenzweig did those girls behind "The Rules" tome one better. She didn't just pretend she wasn't interested.

She really wasn't interested.

Ironically, Rosenzweig thought he was too nice. "I never knew he had any of that side of him until the book," she says. "I never would have believed it in a million years. He always treated me like gold. We were good friends, but I didn't think there was a spark in a romantic way. There was intellectual spark, but it really took me a while to mature in the friendship to realize this was love."

If Marin can't help but give away the happy ending to his tale of male misdeeds, it's because his ending comes with him pretty much everywhere he goes. On a recent week, they're sailing through Los Angeles on a whirlwind his-and-hers product promotion tour. One night there's an author reading a deux at Book Soup, with Rosenzweig reading her own dialogue from the book. Later, they celebrate with friends at an intimate party in the lobby of the Chateau Marmont, where Ileana Douglas sings along while a guitar player serenades a cluster of revelers.

The previous night, Rosenzweig was a guest of honor at a launch party for the new line of hip housewares she and Cynthia Rowley have designed for Target.

Fashionistas streamed through a Hollywood Hills home outfitted in brightly hued dishes, sheets and towels from their Swell line, while Tatiana von Furstenberg's husband, Johnny Fava, entertained the crowd with his cheesy lounge singer act that ended with him stripping down to a wig, gold chains and G-string. As the drizzly evening waned, the house was stripped too. Stragglers hauled garbage bags stuffed with oven mitts down the driveway.

For all their "It" couple festivities, the two former journalists are still peering at their shiny new lives through a looking glass. "I'm a long way from the all-access laminate to the VIP room of fame that I fantasized in my book," Marin tells an interviewer. "I still feel much more like a journalist. I think, 'Why are you asking me questions? Shouldn't it be the other way around?' "

But all this could be just the beginning. Could the happy couple give birth to that Holy Grail of the fashion and media worlds -- an actual trend?

Even as the New Yorkers stump around the U.S. promoting Marin's take on high-stress sex and the city, they're saying that it's hip to be wed, that the single life is so, well, passe.

"Ilene was just reading David Niven's memoir, 'The Moon's a Balloon,' and the guy was with only the most fabulous, glamorous people," Marin says, "and they're all happy couples having a good time together."

"Larry Olivier and Vivien Leigh," Rosenzweig adds. "It was all about glamorous couples and the way they'd socialize then."

"As couples," he says.

"As glamorous couples," she says.

Marin and Rosenzweig are already in training. As Marin, 40, slouches on a couch in the Chateau Marmont's lobby, good-naturedly confessing to sins that are safely in his past, he looks like any ordinary guy with thinning hair and dark, bushy eyebrows. (When he appeared on NBC's "The Other Half" last week, host Danny Bonaduce told him, "Lookin' at you, I don't see it." "I think he didn't buy me as a cad," Marin says later. "I don't have his raw, savage good looks.")

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