BERLIN (Reuters) - Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has become an improbable heartthrob in Germany, where his demands to renegotiate the nation’s debt fell on deaf ears but his charm and masculine appearance have not gone unnoticed.
Germany’s ZDF public television even lampooned its own news anchor for enthusiastic comparing the minister with Hollywood tough guy Bruce Willis, while Stern magazine published a gushing article on Varoufakis’s “classical masculinity”.
“Varoufakis is without doubt a man full of charisma,” ZDF anchor Marietta Slomka said on air. “Visually, he’s someone you could imagine starring in a film like ‘Die Hard 6’ - he’s an interesting character.”
The host of the ZDF parody “Heute Show”, Oliver Welke, ridiculed his “lovestruck” colleague over the 53-year-old Varoufakis but admitted: “He is an incredibly attractive man.”
Varoufakis’s casual tie-less appearance - especially the fact that he does not tuck his dress shirts in and leaves their tops unbuttoned - was an unlikely focus of news reports in Germany, an unusual angle in a country whose leaders have been firmly insisting on Greece fulfilling austerity pledges.
“What makes Yanis Varoufakis a sex icon” was a headline in conservative newspaper Die Welt over a story that raved about “his balding head, cool style and muscular Yamaha motorcycle”.
“Even though Greece’s debts are causing a lot of stress, their new finance minister is anything but dull,” wrote Die Welt, a daily close to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives.
“A star is born,” it added. “He hasn’t forced any of the creditors to their knees but the economics professor is shaking up the suits in Europe with a casual appearance and cool stare.”
Stern magazine wrote that Varoufakis’s appearance reminded Germans of Greek heroes immortalised in marble statues, even though media elsewhere in Europe have said he looked more like a night club bouncer.
“He rattles around Athens on a big, black motorcycle, never tucks his shirts in and radiates a sort of classical masculinity that you only usually see in Greek statues,” Stern wrote. “He’s not one of the world’s most respected economists, but a man whose good looks separate him from all the grey suits.”
“He’s someone you take notice of,” wrote Focus newsweekly.
Germany’s Stylebook fashion magazine also took notice. “His cool style is something you can’t miss,” Stylebook wrote under a story entitled “poor but sexy”.
Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum; editing by David Stamp