Why do women love bad boys?

Author tells of life experiences, interviewed 100 women

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The author of "Why Women Love Bad Boys" admits the 100 or so women she talked to when she decided to write the book pretty much agree on a few basics:

The "bad boys" you date and marry can break your heart, but the "good guys" might not generate enough excitement to rouse any passions at all.

Annie O'Neill, Post-Gazette
Victoria Howard, formerly of Penn Hills, signs copies of her book, "Why Women Love Bad Boys," at Monroeville Mall.
Click photo for larger image.

"Guys that are too nice are boring," said author Victoria Howard, a Penn Hills High School alumna who now lives in Florida.

At least that's sometimes the initial perception of many women and what she learned from the women she spoke to for her new book, now on sale in bookstores. Telling their stories are women from all walks of life that range in age from 18 to 60.

She has been back in the area promoting the book, which is her first. It is dedicated to her late mother, Vivian Gismondi, who died unexpectedly in the spring, just as Ms. Howard's book was going on store shelves. Ms. Howard, who was Vicki Maroni when she graduated from Penn Hills in 1972, said her mother was her biggest supporter and her best friend.

Ms. Howard said her mother encouraged her the entire four years it took to write the book.

The author used her own experiences (she married and divorced two "bad boys"), her mother's and the tales of many other women she met through the years.

"They all had the same story," she said.

They were attracted to men who turned out to be trouble. And they kept repeating the pattern, hooking up with "the type of man their mothers warned them about."

She said she found, through experience and with the help of New York psychoanalyst Dr. Fred Levenson, why these men can be attractive: They're exciting.

Some can be merely commitment phobic or have a wandering eye but others have more serious problems, such as a history of inflicting physical or sexual abuse. Some are in jail. Her book discusses, among other types, the narcissist, misogynist, cheater, married guy and emotional abuser.

Each chapter has a different tale to tell plus tips on how to spot "bad boy" behavior. She calls those tips "red lights to look for."

In the 1970s, Ms. Howard was Miss Pittsburgh Ago-Go, representing the city in New York, and she was a regular dancer on the "Come Alive" dance show hosted by Bill Cardille on Channel 11. She worked as a model, a harness horse trainer and an owner and breeder at the Meadows racetrack. After she married and moved to Morgantown, W.Va., she was Mrs. West Virginia-U.S.A. She developed a line of men's and women's perfumes and ran a car dealership that was left from her second husband.

She met a lot of women along the way and said most of them had a relationship with at least one "bad boy."

Although the book is aimed at women, she said men are reading it and enjoying it, too.

"It's an easy reading, fun book," she said.

Right now, the woman who knows a lot about "bad boys" is dating a guy far nicer than any described in her book.

But she's not moving too quickly with this relationship.

"I am single," she said, and she's enjoying it. She's writing full time and a deal may be in the works with the producers of the Montel Williams show to provide advice snippets from the book for the show.

She lives in Boca Raton with her 27-year-old son, Joseph Porco. He's not one of the "bad boys," she said. "He's the nicest guy I've ever met."

Judy Laurinatis can be reached at jlaurinatis@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1228.


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