Yo, yo, yo! Check it out. Eric is in the house! He's got it going on! And the girlies are shoutin' out!
Translation: Eric Nies, the aspiring model who strutted his shirtless stuff last summer on MTV's The Real World, has become the network's hottest hip-hop VJ. As host of The Grind, Nies, 21, has transformed himself into the homiest homeboy this side of Marky Mark, complete with baggy jeans, crotch-grabbing gesticulations, and street-speak homilies.
''This is really how I talk,'' insists Nies, as he lounges bare-chested in his dressing room after a recent taping of the dance show. ''I hung out with the hip-hop crowd when I was growing up in New Jersey, so this is my everyday lingo. I start conversations by saying 'Yo!' I just exaggerate it for the kids who watch the show.'' (Grind producer Alex Coletti offers a different take on Nies' vernacular: ''I've never heard Eric say 'Yo' off the set,'' he says.)
Real or not, Nies' shtick is clearly working: Since The Grind began airing last October, it has become one of MTV's most popular daytime series, with 2 million viewers per week, according to the music network. Like its dance-show predecessor, Club MTV, its appeal isn't just the tunes. ''A lot of guys turn on The Grind just to see pretty girls with nice bodies,'' Nies admits. ''Dancing is a very sexual act the way the bodies move, the way they look when they're moving that's probably one of the reasons this show is so popular.'' Another reason: ''Yeah some girls probably watch to see me.''
They can see much more of Nies in July, when he'll appear topless in his own 1994 calendar. ''I'm not looking to stay on MTV forever,'' he says. ''I'm waiting for opportunities to break into other areas. Whatever comes up next, whatever God allows me to do, that's the road I'll take.''