Tuesday, April 13, 2010

90s Teen Idols: Hunks Edition...Yes, I Said It..."Hunks"


It may seem easy these days to pick on the dog-whistle declibly screechy screaming hordes of Justin Bieber fans, but mainly because many of us girls have selectively blocked out memories of our own embarrassing teen idol worship. Back in our adolescent years, we did more than our fair share of shrieking over tame pin-up celebrity teen centerfolds ripped from BOP! or J17 magazine. Embarrassing? Yes. Escapable? No. Nostalgic? Absolutely.

Teen stars usually have a capable team of managers and industry experts who specialize in issuing their clients as a palatable brand: The Bad Boy, The Sensitive One, The Free Spirit. The 90s boy band boom specialized in this sort of one-dimensional projection of celebrity personality, condensing full people into an exclamation mark-laden photo caption in a teen magazine fluff piece. These brief blurbs were practically irrelevant to young girls, though--we were far more interested in collecting the tear-out posters and plastering our walls with their dreamy likenesses.

All you heterosexual male children of the 90s may just have to hold your tongues on this one--or rather, your impulsively commenting typing fingers. Yes, this is admittedly incredibly girly fare, but it was in its own way a thriving industry throughout the decade. Some of us spent inordinate quantities of time and resources collecting airbrushed publicity photos and devouring carefully managed and processed information about these young male celebrities. As a female child of the 90s, it's still a little tough to repress my swooning reflex at these photos. That said, I'm open to taking bids from male blogging volunteers to detail the other side of the teen idol coin. Oh, and by bids I mean just send me an email and we'll talk. Thanks.

Until that point, here is our squealing, giddy side of the teen idol story:


Jonathan Taylor Thomas



Best known for his role as Randy Taylor from the TV show Home Improvement, Jonathan Taylor Thomas was a major young commodity in the 90s. He cemented his young appeal with family-friendly roles in films like Tom and Huck, Man of the House, I'll Be Home for Christmas,
and The Lion King. Plus, he had that hair. My god, that hair. 90s teen idols really knew how to lay on the mousse.


Devon Sawa


One glance at Sawa in Little Giants or as the human version of the animated ghost Casper and we fell hard. Add to that the glimpse of his butt during the naked-boys-running-through-the-woods segment of Now and Then and you've got yourself a serious celebrity crush.


Leonardo DiCaprio



Now here's a child star with staying power. Leonardo DiCaprio has maintained respectable and relatively incident-free fame since his breakthrough role on Growing Pains. Following his roles in Romeo + Juliet and especially Titanic, teen girls worldwide broke out in contagious fits of floppy hair-induced Leo-Mania.
In atypical teen idol form, though, DiCaprio shunned his "Tiger Beat" image and sought credit as a legitimate actor. A 2000 Time article explains:

"...DiCaprio still thinks of himself as an edgy indie actor, not the Tiger Beat cover boy. "I have no connection with me during that whole Titanic phenomenon and what my face became around the world...Although it's got to hurt deep inside, DiCaprio says he's at peace with being usurped by the Backstreet Boys. 'I'll never reach that state of popularity again, and I don't expect to,' he says. 'It's not something I'm going to try to achieve either.' Instead, he has spent his post-Titanic life avoiding interviews."

It certainly didn't hurt him any; DiCaprio has since achieved an impressive acting resume, boasts numerous award nominations and wins, and has dated scores of supermodels. All in all, I'd say he came out of teen stardom pretty well.


Jared Leto


I don't care if you are on Team Brian Krakow--you have to admit Leto as the rebellious and near-illiterate Jordan Catalano on My So-Called Life was worthier of our swooning affections. Leto went on to appear in films such as Requiem for a Dream and achieved musical fame as lead singer/songwriter/guitarist for the band 30 Seconds to Mars. It's hard to believe that this former teen star is now 38 years old. Really. 38. I'd always sort of thought I had a chance with him, so I'm shocked to learn that when I was idolizing him at age 10, he was already in his mid-20s.


Hanson


Take heed, Jonas Brothers: you're next. Brothers? Check. Religious? Check. Endearingly floppy hair? Check. It's like looking into the future. Truthfully, the Hanson brothers weren't nearly as persistently chart-topping, but their hit "MMMBop" established them as serious contenders for teen idoldom.


Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC



These two groups deserve far more than a fleeting mention, but as this is a compilation post that's the best they can expect to get. These rival harmony-rich tightly managed boy bands dominated the pop music scene in the 90s, both catering to the same general screaming young girl fan base. The record companies and teen magazines portrayed each band member as a specific and easily definable "type," featuring characters like The Sensitive Guy and The Baby of the Group. Incidentally, these characters were actually real people, but for years they resided pretty comfortably in a describable space of 100-200 words.


Rider Strong


I'll say it again: teen stars in the 90s had the best hair. It wasn't too featherily androgynous like in the 70s or bat-poop crazy a la Flock of Seagulls in the 80s. Rider Strong had great 90s hair, though he and Will Friedle probably could have duked it out for the title of most attractive Boy Meets World cast member while hair is blowing gently in the breeze.



Andrew Keegan


We met Keegan as a camper in the Home Alone-esque summer flick Camp Nowhere, after which he made the rounds on the requisite teen-dream guest part circuit in shows like Full House, 7th Heaven, and Party of Five. Add a dash of satirical modeldom in 10 Things I Hate about You and you've got yourself a teen star. His acting career may not be accelerating at the rate it did in his younger days, but his fame will undoubtedly live on through the ceaseless rerunning of 10 Things on television.


Luke Perry and Jason Priestley





These two were both beloved by teens for their respective roles on Beverly Hills, 90210. At the time they seemed the epitome of the cool teenager, which is somewhat ironic considering they were both in their 20s at the time. Yes, these two former heartthrobs are currently in their 40s. How old does that make you feel? Don't fight it, it will only hurt more. Embrace your aging teen dreamboats.


Some remain famous and others have faded into obscurity, but they're forever ingrained in our memories as teen idols. In some cases, their likenesses are still attached to the walls of our childhood rooms, cementing their stardom for posterity. Believe me, if I could plaster my current walls with old foldouts of Andrew Keegan and Luke Perry, I would. Really. I wonder if eBay is a viable marketplace for Tiger Beat magazine circa 1996...



27 comments:

proletkult said...

oh devon sawa! he was really sooo cute, but since idle hands or final destination i knew, our liason is over. he should turn back to that leo dicaprio hairstyle.:D

Cee said...

wow those shorts Jason Priestley has on are about as un-hunky as they come.

Shannon SVH said...

Oh, Rider Strong, he was the love of my young life.

Wendybob said...

Rider Strong was the SHIZZZ! (and now as an adult, that sounds like a great porno name...oh dear.)

And Devon Sawa, too. Loved him in Now and Then.

What about the guy from The Sandlot...for the life of me I can't remember his name but he was dreamy...

Melanie's Randomness said...

Yes, Yes, and of course Yes! I had my JTT posters, my Backstreet boy posters, and still have my Jared Leto posters up!!! I used to watch Boy meets world for only one reason. Rider Strong. Great post!!!

SarahBeth said...

I totally had a subscription to Tiger Beat and had those boys plastered ALL over my bedroom walls. *hangs head in shame* ;-)

Faux Trixie said...

How are you missing NKOTB? I was obsessed. Love me some Joey.

nikki said...

Oh yum. Rider Strong. Even as a woman in her early 30's now, I can watch an old episode of BMW and my heart will skip a beat. Especially in those last two seasons...

stealthnerd said...

Oh yes, my walls had quite a few JTT posters on them. And I'll be honest, if I'd been allowed to watch 90210 growing up, Jason Priestly would have been up there as well. But since I wasn't I just have to shamefully admit that my current self has a crush on his former self. (and bless SoapNet for obsessively rerunning 90210!!)

RAY J said...

I think we all had crushes on Leo at one point...

Hanson was my favorite out of all the boy bands, mainly because they actually wrote their own songs and played their own instruments, lol... but I did like BSB for a brief time (I had a friend who was obsessed) and bought Nsync's first album too...

I remember my best friend ooohing and ahhhing about Devon Sawa and Andrew Keegan while I drooled over JTT.

Jared Leto's still pretty hot for pushing 40 (then again, most celeb guys I like are around 40 now, lol...) - I loved him in Lord of War as Nicholas Cage's younger brother and 30 Seconds to Mars isn't bad either...

Okie said...

After Corey Haim's recent and untimely death, I got into a conversation with a friend of mine about 'hunks' from the 80s/90s.

Both of us being straight males, it was kind of a funny conversation to ramble on about the other hunks around in Corey's heyday...talking about hair, eyes, presence, build, etc.

Naturally, we later focused on the "Babes of the 80s & 90s"...

Anonymous said...

I used to go through my Bop and Teen Beat magazines and teach my little sister, who was barely old enough to talk, the names of all of my favorite hunks. Hehe! JTT and Devon Sawa were leagues above the rest, though. One half of my room was dedicated to JTT and the other half to Devon. It was definitely the stereotypical 90s pre-teen girl bedroom. I'd also like to point out that you wrote Eric Friedle instead of Will Friedle. Shame on you! ;)

Children of the 90s said...

@Anonymous: That's so funny, I completely missed that--I've fixed it now! All the Boy Meets World trivia floating around in my brain must have gotten jumbled. Thanks for catching it!

Katie said...

What about Jonathan Brandis? Looooooved him. I loved the others your posted as well though.

Jen said...

I second that Jonathan Brandis!

And I'll add Brad Renfro, ooh lala.

(RIP both of them, that makes me sad)

Mel said...

HANSON! They were my absolute FAV =] And they're still making awesome music, so yay for Hanson! (The Jonas Brothers can't even compare... pscht)

Heather Taylor said...

Oh good lord, I completely forgot about Andrew Keegan. Wow...so handsome :)

Sadako said...

So much hotness. My favorite is still the men of Boy Meets World (Will Friedle was hotness, as was Rider, and later Matthew Lawrence).

And I must confess that when I first watched 90210 a couple years ago I even thought David Silver was hot. He's kinda skeevy now.

Andhari said...

Oh wow I had their posters at one point in the past I swear. Leo, Devon, and jason Priestly are my faves.

lorrie! said...

i am still utterly convinced, in the early to mid 90s, you were a brandon girl or a dylan girl. i was a confirmed brandon girl: i had two GIANT posters of jason priestly, and every tiger beat pull out of him. i've overcome my shame of that and embrace my 90sness now.

digigirl02 said...

Aww, teen hunks. I remember having such huge crushes on many of them myself. JTT, Hanson, Leo and BSB being my biggest ones. And I also agree about the hair, 90s idols had the greatest hair.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the posters... River Phoenix will always be my biggest 90's crush, even though he didn't live through much of the decade.

Lil' Woman said...

I loved them all but Devon Sawa and Andrew Keegan.....swoon!!!

mrs_joiner said...

Jonathan Brandis for sure!!! I was so sad to find out about his death :(

Casey said...

Totally uncool! What about Corin Nemec? I know he was mostly a TV actor but he was my biggest crush, plus Brain Austin Green and River Phoenix. I Vote Corky!

Honeybee said...

Hilarity!! I came across this post while trying to remember Andrew Keegan's name... for whatever reason, his face was absolutely stuck in my mind, but I'd forgotten who he actually WAS! He was never a favorite of mine, though... that honor belongs to Hanson :P Still does, honestly... though I have to say that the past ten years have greatly improved them. They went from "cute, but YOUNG" to HUNKY. If only they weren't all married with multiple children apiece... at least the music on their new indie label still rocks :)

coonassblondie said...

Put me down for a another who wonders why you left out Jonathan Brandis. I adored him! My largest fantasy was to fly to LA just to meet him and fall in love and all those things teenage girls dream about! I was so sad to find out what happened, it's horrible when anyone passes away, but that much worse when it happens tragically.

My stereotypically teenage bedroom walls were plastered with posters of Brandis, JTT, BSB and Devon Sawa. I watched the last 30 minutes of Casper repeatedly, much to the chagrin of my brother. The same guy, who, when he saw to large pull-out posters on my wall of Brandis and JTT, started referring to them as the "Gruesome Twosome"

I'm loving this blog, you now have a new devoted reader.

Digg This!