To-die-for Joey Lawrence, star of the NBC sitcom Blossom, is, omigod!, a rock star! Joey, who turns 17 this week, gets straight A’s in the babe department as Blossom’s brain-free younger brother Joey — dubbed by one magazine TV’s ”sexiest dimwit since John Travolta’s Vinnie Barbarino” on Welcome Back, Kotter. And now he also has a debut album — called Joey Lawrence (duh!) — streaking up the charts faster than Marky Mark can drop trou!
Released Feb. 2 on Impact/MCA, the first single off the album, ”Nothin’ My Love Can’t Fix,” is thisclose to the top 20. While the record doesn’t break any new musical ground, with pumpin’ melodies, a gangsta-groove rap, and several well-placed grunts and growls, it’s certainly no embarrassment to the breathy-bubble-gum-urban-synth-pop genre. ”It’s not a teenybopper album — it’s very legitimate,” insists Joey, who cowrote 10 of the 12 tunes. ”I had offers to just slap an album together in a few months and see if we could make a quick million or two, but with MCA it was totally different. It took two years and I had a say in everything, right down to what the CD looks like.”
What the CD looks like is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Check out Joey, adopting a finger-pointing, in-yo’-face rap stance in his customary quasi-grunge ensemble of T-shirt, artfully ripped jeans (one of 35 pairs!), plaid flannel shirt, and kickin’ motorcycle boots. Yum! And on the cover he wears a vest that shows off his buff bod (the result of working out four times a week). Don’t want to disappoint those female fans — the ones who write him 5,000 letters a week! Face it: The guy’s a total fox!
Currently in the midst of a promotional tour of Target stores across the country (he sometimes hits two a day, squeezing them in on weekends between classes, homework, SATs, and other high school stuff), Joey is drawing crowds of up to 2,000, mostly females who go ballistic at the sight of him. At an appearance in a Phoenix suburb one Sunday last month, the Target was teeming with 1,500 squealing fans. ”I looooove you, I wanna kiss you, you are so cuuuuute!” shrieks one. ”I can’t breathe,” wails another. ”I think you are so hot!” gushes a third with big hair and a pink sweatshirt.
”I think he’s really cute,” says Susie, a 17-year-old blond, ”but I also like that he’s innocent and, like, not into drugs. You could bring him home to Mom — except Mom’ll probably steal him!”
Joey, a total pro, accommodates everyone waiting patiently in line for autographs. ”Cool necklace,” he tells one girl, making her day. ”I made it myself!” she says proudly and gives it to him. Repeated requests to bleat out the bewildered ”Whoa!” that is his Blossom trademark are willingly obliged. Each fan receives Joey’s thanks and megawatt smile and walks away semi-comatose with joy.
”I can’t think of anybody else I’ve worked with in the past 12 years who has caused such a high-pitched frenzy,” says Debbie Estes, who manages these two-hour drool-a-thons for the 500-store discount chain. According to Estes, who hires 15 security guards to maintain order at each appearance, the frenzy has included everything from fainting to theft, with Joey’s water bottle and rings being prime targets. ”One girl wanted the gum he was chewing, and he gave it to her,” says Estes. ”Another started crying so hard that Joey’s mom got her phone number and they called her that night to make sure she was okay.”
”It’s insane, just insane,” snipes a long-haired store employee, surveying the scene after four hours. ”I kinda feel sorry for him. I wouldn’t want to have to deal with this. I’d take the money, but he can have the fame — I just want it to be over!”
”It is amazing to see how wild people can get,” says Joey. ”To need six bodyguards and four state troopers to get out of the building…and ambulances ‘cause people fainted. I’m so fortunate — a lot of people work as hard as I do, but very few get to where I’ve gotten. It just blows you away.”
Wow! All that and he’s modest, too! But he’s right when he says he has worked hard to make it. He has been acting since the age of 3 — doing commercials in his native Philadelphia, then a four-year stint on Gimme a Break beginning in 1983. ”I haven’t had a day off in, like, six weeks, or a summer off in the last two years,” says the oldest of three boys, who lives in L.A. with his insurance-broker father, Joe, 43, mother/manager, Donna, 40, and future babe-alert brothers Matt, 12 (who has gone from Gimme a Break to movies of the week), and Andy, 4 (upcoming in an Empty Nest spinoff). ”But this has always been my choice. I go back to Philly [where the family still has a house] for like two days and I’m, like, sitting there going, ‘We gotta go to the mall again? Jeez.’ It’s boring to have a whole summer off. Whaddya do?”
Not to worry, Joey: With the Target weekend blitzes, more videos, radio and TV appearances, and performing at a summer AIDS benefit, his super-jammin’ schedule shows no signs of time for boredom. With the aid of a tutor, Joey’s finishing his junior year at the private school he has attended since kindergarten. (Now that he and Life Goes On’s Kellie Martin are no longer an item, he still has no date for the prom next month — any volunteers?) And he’s psyched for college. ”I’ve worked too hard in school not to go,” he says. ”I have the grades for Northwestern or Princeton [all A’s — of course!], but hopefully I’ll be working so much that I’ll have to be some place out here, probably UCLA.”
Will Joey go the way of past teen idols and suffer hype meltdown? Even if he does, he’s not gonna disappear. Asked what career he’d pursue if he couldn’t be in show biz, he replies: ”I’d go into politics.” President Joey — ooooh, wouldn’t he just look awesome in the White House?
BUFF BABE BARES ALL!
Weight: 154 pounds
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Brown
Pet: Jack, a dog
Car: 1992 black Lexus SC400
Fave Subject: Biology (”I’m in advanced bio and that’s really fun”)
Fave Color: Green
Fave Food: Pasta
Biggest Girl Turnoff: ”If she’s superficial and judges you by the physical things you have rather than what’s within.”
Song That Makes Him Cry: ”When You Wish Upon a Star” (It’s such a simple song, and so positive.”)
Fave Rock Singer: Elton John
Person He’d Most Like to Duet With: Mariah Carey
Betcha Didn’t Know: When he was 5, Joey sang ”Give My Regards to Broadway” on The Tonight Show after Johnny Carson spotted him in a TV commercial.