The image of motorcycle-riding babe-magnet Frank "Ponch" Poncherello is a tough one to shake. But these days Erik Estrada, best known as the star of the '80s action show "CHiPs," is more of a family man. He often provides voices for children's cartoons and spends free time with his wife and kids. He's also appearing this month on "The Surreal Life," the WB's "Big Brother"-meets-"Battle of the Network Stars" oddball unscripted series.
Get out the bibs
A good Friday night is when my lady barbecues some steaks and then we'll have some lobster. My 4-year-old daughter's really loving lobster now, and she loves calamari too. Or my wife will make soft-shell crabs that we get from Maine for my boys. We don't go out to restaurants very often because she's such a good cook.
When we do go to a restaurant, we usually go to Wolfgang Puck's in CityWalk because they make a really nice calamari for my daughter. Or we'll go to Teru Sushi in Studio City, which is the oldest sushi bar in town. She really likes their calamari and the miso soup.
Then we'll jump back into the car and go to Castle Park on Sepulveda, where they have miniature golf and an arcade that's just fantastic for kids. We win tickets and she gets to pick little toys. She usually goes for the stickers.
We like CityWalk; it's a big thing for us. I usually take my daughter on Sunday nights because it's not that packed and I can play with my kid. She loves the fountain; all the kids do, just splashing around in it. The adults do too, but they try and be cool.
I have two teenage boys too, so I usually slip them some money and tell them to knock themselves out on their own, maybe go see a movie, and we'll meet up again later. Then they get to see the stuff they want to see.
Sometimes I have to tell my wife we're going strictly for the water and Wolfgang Puck. My wife's like me, she loves to shop. Then we'll wait a week or two and go back and hit one store at a time. I'm going to be working until I'm 80!
Whenever I want to be alone, I go to shoot skeet and sporting clays. It's one of my favorite sports. My wife used to do it with me before we had our little girl. Now I usually call a couple of friends and we meet at Moore-N-Moore in San Fernando or Triple B in El Monte. You go and shoot for a couple of hours and have a little camaraderie with some of the guys. Shooting is a sport where you completely have to be in the moment mentally -- it's like playing golf. You're not thinking about yesterday or tomorrow; you're just right there. It's a nice way to unload and relax.