Star Al Santos tells about fake zits, going starkers, and his horny TV dad

By Craig Seymour
Updated November 03, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST
Santos: Ed Geller/Retna

Beverly Hills, 90210

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”Grosse Pointe” — the WB’s bitingly funny sitcom about the backstage drama at a ”90210” type teen show — moved to Sundays Nov. 5 (9:30 p.m.) in an attempt to boost its poor ratings. In ”Grosse”’s former Friday night time slot, the series lost an average of 1 million viewers from its lead in ”Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” which draws approximately 3.5 million watchers each week.

Still, critics have praised the Darren Star (”90210,” ”Sex and the City”) production, which spoofs ”90210” leads like Shannen Doherty, Tori Spelling, and Luke Perry. EW’s Ken Tucker called the parody ”savvy, cutting, and delightfully silly” and praises the acting as ”dexterous” and ”remarkably adroit.” talked to former model Al Santos, 23, who plays Johnny Bishop, a buff and remarkably Jason Priestley like dimwit, about life behind the scenes at this behind the scenes laughfest.

In the first episode, your horndog character gets, um, aroused while making out with his new farm fresh costar (Bonnie Somerville). Was there Method acting involved?
People want to think that. But sorry, there wasn’t. Actually, it was a little uncomfortable, because we were filming on location at a lake in the mountains with the whole crew there and I was running around in a pair of black Calvin Klein boxer shorts. It was the first time that I was so naked in front of that many people. Plus, they were hosing me down with water between takes. So even if I had wanted it to be [pause], it wouldn’t have been possible.

The plot of another episode revolves around a pimple on Johnny’s back. Do you suffer from backne in real life?
No. That episode was a little upsetting to me because I’ve never, ever had a pimple on my back. And they used a waxy prosthetic to make this big, nasty zit. When I was walking around the set with my shirt off, the crew thought it was real. People were like, ”Ugh.”

Your TV dad is a closeted gay man who has the tongue out hots for you. Any chance you two are gonna get busy?
We joke about that a lot. But I don’t think so. My character [did] have a locker room scene [in an episode that aired Nov. 19], though, where I’m completely butt naked. And my TV dad shows up to take a gander.

The ”Grosse Pointe” characters are always pulling diva like stunts. Have YOU ever ticked off the producers?
Well, they get mad at me when I go tanning, because then I’m not the same color as I was the day before. And they also get upset when I work out during lunch, because they have to reapply my makeup. But each script says something like ”Johnny takes off his shirt to reveal a hot, golden brown, glistening bod.” And I’m like, ”Look guys, if you want a hot, golden brown, glistening bod, I have to go tanning and I have to hit the gym.”

So who gets more girls — a male model or a TV stud?
A TV star gets way more broads.

Is ”I’m on TV” your new pickup line?
No, I tell girls I have absurd professions like pistachio picker, floral artiste, wedding coordinator, and professional dog walker. The one I’ve been using lately is peanut farmer.

And girls go home with peanut farmers?
Well, they’re definitely amused by it. I’ll say that much.

Beverly Hills, 90210

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