Monday, September 12, 2011

Guest Post: 90s Hearthrobs

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.


Catherine said...

I'm pretty sure I remember that exact cover of 16...of course they all looked like that at some point.

Saisei-chan said...

They all have the same hair on that magazine cover, haha.

Julia said...

I'll never forget seeing The Neverending Story, II with my father. I was probably 5 or 6 or maybe older, I don't know, but I remember thinking that I wanted to marry Jonathan Brandis...RIP...
PS The Jonathan Brandis and Brad Renfro died the same year (and the same year as Heath Ledger). I would just like to say, that at the Oscar's that year, they were not mentioned in the memorial video. I was pretty pissed about it!

Miss Tattoo said...

Oh I had the biggest crush on Andrew Keegan! He's effing hot now!

Savvy said...

For your JTT update pleasure...,,20526769,00.html

He was my one true love too. :)

Belle said...

So sad about Brad Renfro and Jonathan Brandis! I really loved Renfro as a teen, but Devon Sawa was my ULTIMATE crush. I was convinced he was my soul mate for about six months. JTT was one I never got - he was too short for my tastes, even at 11.
What about Leonardo Dicaprio? After Romeo and Juliet, he surpassed even Devon Sawa in my affections.

nikki said...

The other day, my son was watching Batman Beyond, and I thought " man, that dude sounds like Eric Matthews." Sure enough :) He's a really great voice actor.

Gently Used said...

Jonathan Brandis was my one and only--my room was practically wallpapered in Bop Brandis posters! Good list--I remember my best friend in grade school had it bad for Mike Vitar from The Sandlot.

Melissa Pisan said...

Rider Strong is working with his brother as a writer/director atm. In a recent article, a reviewer of his latest film Dungeon Master called Rider "The Next Ron Howard"...pretty awesome.

Devon Sawa is apparently the man who physicaly abused Boy Meets World star Danielle Fishel back in 2000. She never named-names, but his is the name which comes up a lot.

Jonathan Jackson has won 4 Daytime Emmys for his role as Lucky on GH. He left for a while, but made his return (to a big audience apparently) last year. He's also pretty well-known for his role in Tuck Everlasting with Alexis Bledel.

Sad about Jonathan Brandis and Brad Renfro. Especially Renfro when it comes to acting - the guy was fantasic and could have been an Oscar nominated actor had he beat his addiction.

Leo DiCaprio was also a hottie of the 90s as well as Hanson (Taylor in particular) and The Backstreet Boys (Nick Carter with a lot of young fans!)

Hanson were the Justin Biebers of the 90s. Except they had exceptional talents for teen kids who wrote all their own music.

Melissa Pisan said...

Oh, and JTT was the heart of Home Improvement. Anyone who remembers the show, it centred around him more than the other 2 brothers on the show (remember Randy's cancer scare?) and the rating for the show dropped HEAPS once he decided to leave in the 7th season. He was like the Michael J Fox of the tween world back then - short little guy who took over a family sitcom as the most popular character!

Mademoiselle's Tea Party said...

Ah i remember them all! I had a HUGE crush on Devon Sawa when I saw him in Little Giants. Now whenever I watch that movie I feel like a pedophile lol. Glad you still write posts! Your blog is amazing. I always get feelings of nostalgia when reading your posts. Take care x

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