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Jesse's Girls

Pity Jesse McCartney? Are you kidding? The eighteen-year-old heartthrob looks like a 21st-century update of Mattel's time-tested Ken doll, and untold thousands of young Barbie wannabes fantasize about becoming his plastic-fantastic lover. Boy-toy status may not be fulfilling in the long run, but plenty of his peers would happily volunteer to find out for themselves.

Still, life as an object of mass desire has its downside, as McCartney confirmed in an e-mail interview on the eve of a tour promoting Beautiful Soul, his already-platinum debut for Hollywood Records. One fan was so desperate to get a piece of him that she ripped out a hank of his hair. "That was definitely the most painful!" he confirms. Oodles of others pester him with propositions. "Prom season was crazy," he says. "Girls were calling my label, asking for me to be their date." And then there was last month's notorious edition of MTV's Punk'd, in which McCartney blubbered in fear that faux motorcyclists would pound his photogenic puss into the pavement. "Those bikers were scary," he admits. Nevertheless, he's good-natured about his treatment at the hands of host/old-babe-magnet Ashton Kutcher, and enjoyed the opportunity to dish out similar humiliation to rapper Akon on a subsequent episode. "I would love to punk Ashton," McCartney adds. "I haven't figured out how yet, but I will."

In "Beautiful Soul" (a gloppy hit single that Kutcher warbled while wearing a blond wig to introduce McCartney's punking), the Hunky One declares, "I don't want another pretty face" -- and in a display of modesty that requires an enormous suspension of disbelief to accept, he expresses doubts that his mug qualifies. "I definitely have flaws," McCartney insists. "My skin breaks out a lot." Of course, comments like this one further endear him to the former Aaron Carter aficionados who've graduated to him, as does his claim that the features he most enjoys in gals are "eyes and a great smile." (If he admires tremendous asses, too, he's not saying.) McCartney also knows how to wheedle his way into parents' hearts. When asked if there's any performer he'd yell about like his admirers holler for him, he replies, "I don't see myself screaming for someone, but I'm a huge music fan. I'm going to see Carole King in September, and I will definitely be cheering for her."

McCartney won't have a lot of extra time to groove on Tapestry, even though Summerland, his series on the WB, appears to be worm food; the network left it off the fall schedule, ignoring (for now) a save-the-show petition that sports over 10,000 signatures. "After this U.S. tour, I'm going to Australia and Japan," he notes. "When I get back, I'll be doing my first movie: Keith. The role is so not like me at all. The script is so awesome."

And if females ever stop fainting at his feet, is there another career he can imagine trying? "One day," he writes, "I'd like to direct."

If that doesn't make you feel sorry for Jesse McCartney, nothing will.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts