When Ginger of Taste of Ginger came to me with this idea for a blog, I jumped at opportunity. Why? Because I’m pretty sure every one of these BOP magazine spreads graced my walls at some point during my preteen years. The memories...Oh, the memories!
Be sure to check out Ginger’s blog and follow her there as well for more great posts.
About Ginger Pennington: I’m a broke-ass dilettante artist living in L.A. I act, I write at least something every day, I sing, play instruments, and paint. Sometimes some of that is good. If any of this interests you, check out my blog, Taste of Ginger.
Heartthrobs of the 90s: Who's Still Pin-up Worthy?
If you were a straight, white, American teen or preteen gal (the word "tween" didn't exist) in the 90s, your bedroom walls were likely covered with a pin-up selection from Bop, BB (formerly known as Big Bopper), Tiger Beat, J14, or some equally trashy rag that pedaled one commodity only: teenage white boy actors with thick hair dangling in their squinty eyes.
In the mid-nineties, the shaggy hair was the only prerequisite for my own easily-won lust, but as I got older and grew a brain, my requirements got more rigid for male objects of desire. However, as you shall see, the life trajectories of these teen heartthrobs have taken many turns on their way to manhood. Here is my top ten list of middle school crushes, now re-ordered based on how crush-worthy they are as of 2011, according to my adult opinion. (I wish I could have compiled an even more comprehensive list of my nineties crushes, but that would take months! You may be wondering why certain gentlemen are notably absent from this list --Mark-Paul Gossaler, Ethan Embrey, Jared Leto-- and that's because they're still on your radar. I hope to bring back some less obvious old memories. Enjoy!)
1. Jonathan Taylor Thomas
Though he loathed the nickname, he was known as J.T.T. back in the day when he showed up on Home Improvement for mere minutes per episode as Randy Taylor, the middle son. He also appeared, to my delight, in movies such as Tom and Huck and Man of the House, and his blue eyes and raspy voice (the voice of Simba from The Lion King, even!) made him the number one object of my affection. He is still number one today, mainly because he is the one guy on the list who has checked out of Hollywood in favor of being happy and enjoying life in (rumor has it) Vancouver, Canada. Aside from an interview with The Advocate in 2000 deflecting some gay rumors and a short film in 2005, he has been M.I.A. He reportedly attended Columbia University and now goes by his birth name, Jonathan Taylor Weiss. Sounds like success to me.
2. Joey Lawrence
I had this exact photo, from his cassette tape, taped to the head of my bed in fifth grade. Of course you all remember him from Blossom ("Whoa!"), but if you weren't lucky enough to be a fan of his short-lived music career, you were missing out. Please fill yourself in by watching this video of "Nothin' My Love Can't Fix" -- and stick around for the rap at the end; you'll be glad you did.
As you may have noticed, he is no longer big on the music scene. But as acting goes, Mr. Lawrence can't complain these days: he is rockin' the bald-by-choice look (how I miss that hair!) and starring on a sit-com, Melissa & Joey, which will return in 2012. He's also filming some movies as we speak. Not bad, Joseph. (Oh yeah, he now goes by Joseph.)
3. Rider Strong
Corey's hot friend Shawn from Boy Meets World was such a cliche crush for the girls who watched the TGIF lineup on ABC Friday nights. He was sensitive, yet from the wrong side of the tracks, and if there's one thing that 90s girls liked more than hair in the eyes, it was a tortured soul.
Rider, like Shawn, is a poet (apparently published, too), and these days, he's still acting and even directing a new short film about Dungeons and Dragons. He was recently interviewed by Vanity Fair for their "25 Questions" section, and not only does he seem like a normal, talented guy, he's also still quite fine.
4. Will Friedle
He couldn't have been more adorable as the dopey Eric Matthews in Boy Meets World.
These days, his looks may have waned a little, but he is likely rollin' in the dough and probably the personality, too. He is a successful voiceover artist for many cartoons, as you can see on his IMDB page.
5. Andrew Keegan
He was never quite my type when he appeared in the teeny-bopper magazines and popped up on TV shows and Ten Things I Hate About You, but, wow, look at him now!
Though he apparently had a recent run-in with the cops over a very loud party, he is still working here and there in acting, and I can tell you firsthand that he is keeping in shape: I've seen him with my own two eyes, jogging on the bike path in Marina del Rey. Yum.
6. Devon Sawa
There was a period of time where every other sentence in my diary sung the praises of this snaggletoothed stud. The last ten minutes of Casper, when the ghost becomes a real boy, were worth the wait for me. I would listen to the song "Remember Me This Way" by Jordan Hill (how do I still remember the name of that?) and fantasize about Devon dancing with me in an old haunted house. Little Giants was obviously a treat, but the best clip to my perverted young mind was in Now and Then, when the Wormer brothers are skinny-dipping in the lake and the girls steal their clothes. I wore out the rewind button on that one.
I'm sad not to be able to put Devon more toward the top of the list. I've actually run into him at least three times in Santa Monica -- we're neighbors! -- and he is still fly and still working on movies and TV, but after hearing about his criminal record, I couldn't rightly call him a catch anymore.
7. Jonathan Jackson
I loved that movie Camp Nowhere. This kid was a cool little renegade. And he grew up to be one of the best-looking dudes out of the bunch.
I never watched General Hospital, but apparently he is still playing the role of Lucky after all these years. He's hot and doing well! Too bad he's a republican.
8. Brad Renfro
Not only was he sexy, he was infinitely cool. I remember him from The Cure and Tom and Huck, but he had many more high-profile roles over the years.
He died of a heroin overdose at 25, but recently, his name has been resurrected by James Franco, who costarred with him in Deuces Wild. As an art piece, Franco installed a billboard on Sunset Boulevard that says "Brad Renfro Forever." I guess I'll have to transfer my affections to James Franco; they do kind of look alike.
9. Eddie Furlong
This kid had the best rock-n-roll hair ever in Terminator 2 and has done quite a bit of impressive acting work. The reason he's at the end of the list now is this:
Although he recently had a role in The Green Hornet, he also recently has been all sorts of falling apart.
10. Jonathan Brandis
If you haven't seen Sidekicks with J.B. and Chuck Norris, my friend, you are leading an empty life.
I absolutely loved Jonathan Brandis -- I even plodded through SeaQuest DSV in the nineties, just to see him in his wetsuit -- and was shocked to hear he hanged himself in 2003. Not so pin-up worthy these days, I guess.