The girls are still crazy about the boys.
Specifically, those TV teen dreams that television keeps delivering right to the family room. In earlier decades, a smile from Paul Petersen or Ricky Nelson could cause a swoon. Then came heavy sighs directed at the Monkees, Bobby Sherman, Lance Kerwin and Shaun Cassidy.
Yesterday's Donny Osmonds, Jason Batemans and Kirk Camerons are today's Joey Lawrences, Jonathan Brandises and Mario Lopezes. And waiting in the wings are plenty of other young hopefuls more than willing to fill their Doc Marten boots, ripped jeans and plaid shirts.
What's the formula? Besides the X factor, certainly a prerequisite of cute, followed by likability, charm and an easy-to-relate-to quality. Being able to carry a tune, appearing on a weekly sitcom and having a persistent publicist who knows the editors at Tiger Beat, 16 and Bop couldn't hurt either.
So, a few "fantasy" fan letters to some of the hottest young hunks on the small screen:
We love the way you go, "Whoa!" You were such a cute little kid on "Gimme a Break." We liked those torn jeans you wore, but we're not so sure about the chokers now. We think you're "Blossom's" cutest brother, even if you're not her smartest. What's really cool is we hear you ' re smarter in person.
Age: 18 .
Why He's an Idol: "I don't know. I have very strong ethics."
Letters Per Week: 4,000 to 7,000.
Gifts: Teddy bears to bracelets to rings to ID bracelets. "Some I keep, others I give to charity."
Fans: "They say, 'I love you' and ask for a picture, a hug or a kiss. I don't ever kiss, but I do hug."
What Girls See in Him: "I don't know. I seem like a nice guy."
Security: Always travels with a bodyguard.
Friends: Flies best friend out from Philadelphia once every two months and flies a group to Hawaii twice a year.
"Fatal Attraction" Factor: "People have tried to follow us home, but we have a guard gate."
Immediate Future: Film school at USC in the fall.
How He Dates: "Either I go late at night or I have a private screening set up for me."
Show-Biz Folks: "They're a bunch of hot air, all that meaningless clubbing, or whatever the heck they call it."
Shining Accomplishment: One of People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People.
Something Bad Is: "Being a negative mass of sorrow. I try to be upbeat."
Working on: Second album; first was No. 75 on the "Hot 100" chart.
Crowning Glory: All that hair, natch!
Most Likely to: Become John Travolta.
We wish "Family Matters" was more about you than about that nerd Urkel! We've liked you since we were in the third grade--now we're in the eighth! You also seem like a really cool older brother.
A Teen Idol Is: "Someone girls can relate to and looks like their dream guy."
What Girls See in Him: "My sister says they like my body. (He's 6 foot 3.) But I think it's that I'm a nice guy. I'm never rude."
What Trippy Fans Do: "Send letters that say, 'If you're a man and respect your fans, you'll write back; if not, then I guess you're not a man."
Hates Fans Who: "Grab my butt, and I'm, like, 'Excu-use me!' "
Weirdest Gift: Homemade cleanser remedy. "It looked like mud to me."
Biggest Problem: Meeting women.
Heroes: His mom, Chay, and his uncle, Dr. Edward Turner, pastor of Church of the Power of Love in South Central.
Most Prized Possessions: His "couple of nice rides--a white Range Rover with chrome fixtures and a Custom 5-Series BMW."
"Fatal Attraction" Factor: Was told by ABC to stop personally answering fan mail when a persistent male fan began to assume personal responses (written by McCrary and his aunt) indicated a relationship.
Immediate Future: Will co-star with fellow hunk David Lascher ("Blossom") in the NBC movie "Foster's Field Trip."
Proudest of: His upcoming R&B; album, "Give It a Little Love."
Dream Role: "To play a really, really bad guy."
Life Dream: "To get married, have a house and have kids."
Most Likely to: Co-star in a spinoff with Urkel.
You're so-o-o cute. It's so neat you're on a show that shows how smart you are! But we wouldn't watch "seaQuest DSV" if you weren't on it--it's too serious! We loved you in "Ladybugs." You have a super-cool deep voice, too.
Letters per week: About 4,000.
Why He's an Idol: "I don't know. It's strange for this to happen."
What Girls See in Him: "I seem like a nice guy and maybe they like my work. But there's always the chance they don't separate the character from the real you."
What Makes a Teen Idol: "The right age, the right projects and the right time. It happens, inadvertently. But being able to sing and being on a sitcom helps."
Most Common Fan Line: "Do you have a girlfriend?" (He doesn't.)
L.A. Fans: "Girls don't care much here. There's much more of a reaction out of state."
Fan Reactions: "You don't know what to do when they break out crying in front of you."
Bizarre Fan Reactions: "One girl wrote me 300 letters and when I finally met her, she was very cool and acted like she didn't care."
"Fatal Attraction" Factor: "No one's ever come to my door."
Social Life: "It's not that interesting."
What's Hard About Teen Idol Status: "The preconceived notions."
The Competition: "Joey Lawrence is much bigger than me. I don't sing. I don't perceive myself in the same way as them."
The Future: "I imagine 20 years from now, I can say, 'Way back when I was this teen idol,' and they'll say, 'No way!' and I can whip out one of the magazines."
Most Likely to: Become Jeff Fahey.
You're such a babe on "Saved By the Bell." Even though your show isn't new any more, we still watch you four times a day. We wouldn't do that for just any guy with two first names for a first name.
Letters Per Week: 3,000.
Running Theme: "I haven't read them in a long time."
Why He's an Idol: "I don't know. The mind boggles how people put me in such high regard."
What Girls See in Him: "I look like someone they know in school."
"Fatal Attraction" Factor: "It's not a problem now that I live with my girlfriend. When I lived at home, friends of neighborhood kids came over and my mother would say that we don't give out autographs."
Fans: "They want to have a conversation and you have no idea who they are."
Blame It on the Fans: "I've had several hats stolen and I've had to chase a few down."
Career High: Moving from Saturday morning into prime time ("Saved By the Bell: The College Years").
Biggest Downer: The show was canceled after four months.
Afraid of: Becoming Rick Schroder--"I look at him now, and I don't take him seriously."
Future: "Saved by the Bell--Wedding in Las Vegas" airs in October.
Most Likely to: Star in "Saved By the Bell--Our Grandkids Are Visiting."
You're so cute and hunky. We love your really tight shirts and your muscles. So what if "Saved by the Bell: The College Years" was canceled. At least you're still on "Name Your Adventure."
Letters Per Week: "Thousands. But I never really count."
Heard It: You're "cute, down to earth, real. ... It's good to see an Hispanic."
Why He's an Idol: "I don't know. I don't look at it like that."
What Girls See in Him: "I don't know. I'm nice and not phony."
"Fatal Attraction" Factor: "Everyone knows where I live in Chula Vista. It's not a problem."
Favorite Fan Line: "You look exactly the same as you do on TV."
What He's Like Off-Screen: "I just kind of act the way I kind of act."
What Makes a Teen Idol: "The way the character relates to kids and teens. You don't have to be the best looking, but come across charming and suave."
The Competition: "They all look alike."
Looking for: A movie role opposite Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.
Most Likely to: Make a workout video.
We just adore you on "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman." You were the cutest on "My Two Dads." It was weird when you played that killer in that "Murder in New Hampshire" movie with that "Mad About You" lady, but y ou were very good in that.
Letters Per Week: "Not sure. A lot. I usually get mail every day."
Why He's an Idol: "I don't know. I'm not sure I'm all that popular."
What Makes a Teen Idol: "A mega publicist."
What Girls See in Him: "Someone put out an image of me that seemed ideal."
"Fatal Attraction" Factor: Serious stuff. Restraining orders and police involved.
Being Recognized: "When I first started (on 'My Two Dads'), girls would say they knew things about me from all the teen magazines, and now that I play a character in the 1800s, and they see me out of costume, they think I'm a friend of a friend."
What Makes Him Happy: "When fans are more interested in how a character is created than about my personal life."
His Personal Life: "In high school I was sneered at a lot."
His Career: "I've played killers, drug addicts, an autistic, boys next door and everything in between."
Teen Mags: "I have very little to do with what they put out on me."
Most Likely to: Win an Emmy.
Mondays: "Blossom," 8:30 p.m. NBC
Fridays: "Family Matters," 8 p.m. ABC
Monday through Friday: 6:30 and 7 p.m. KTLA; 5 and 5:30 p.m. KUSI
Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Mario Lopez
Monday through Friday: "Saved by the Bell," 2 p.m. TBS, XETV; 2:30 p.m. TBS, WGN; 3 p.m. WGN; 5:30 p.m. KTLA
Saturdays (Lopez only): "Name Your Adventure," 11 a.m. NBC
Sundays: "seaQuest DSV," 8 p.m. NBC
Saturdays: "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," 8 p.m. CBS
Monday through Friday: "My Two Dads," 12:30 p.m. USA