THE GIRL YOU’VE BEN FANTASIZING ABOUT SINCE THE EIGHTIES WANTS NOTHING MORE THAN TO WATCH A BALL GAME AND MARRY A PLUMBER.
The love affair started 27 years ago when, at seven, a Brooklyn-born kid tagged along on her babysitter’s audition for a traveling production of Annie. To the babysitter’s horror, her charge was plucked out of the crowd herself and cast as one of the chirpy orphans. Eighteen months later, in 1984, Alyssa Milano was cast as Tony Danza’s tomboy daughter, Samantha Micelli, in the eighties sitcom Who’s the Boss?. That’s when a generation of guys—guys who are now, like Milano, well into their thirties—fell full-on, flush-cheeked, terminally in love with her. Her geekier fans are still reeling from the epsiode when Samantha gets her first bra. They also own spare copies of her best-selling dance/exercise video Teen Steam.
“It’s funny, I just had this conversation,” Milano says. She’s sitting on a white leather couch in her West Hollywood condo, wearing a lacy, teddy-like top, ruminating on her cult sex appeal. “My friend tells me, ‘Every time I mention you in front of guys, they all go nuts.’ So he asked one of them, ‘What is it about her? Can you define it?’ And the guy said, ‘She’s the girl we never got over.’”
The fact that Milano looks practically the same now as she does in syndication only intensifies the collective crush. Rather than swan-dive into a Corey Haim–style crash-and-burn after Who’s the Boss? ended, she mightily rewarded her male fans by posing nude in a magazine, playing Amy Fisher in a TV movie, and baring her 36 Cs in a couple of straight-to-video movies. In TK, Aaron Spelling made an honest woman out of Milano, casting her as a TK in Melrose Place and later, as a belly-button–flashing good witch in Charmed, which ran for eight seasons before it ended last year. Now, she’s appearing in Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor’s campy thriller Pathology, out this month. She plays one of the med students who play a bloody game of Who Can Commit the Perfect Murder? Neveldine and Taylor are veteran Alyssa-ites who not only brag about owning a well-used VHS copy of Teen Steam (“Inappropriate mental theater was always a big part of the Alyssa experience,” Neveldine says), but also confess to fetishizing the nude, life-size prosthetic body double of Milano used in the filming of Pathology. “We think of it as the Stanley Cup,” Taylor says. “We all kind of take it home and share it.”
Those of you who don’t have access to that kind of Milano iconography will have to settle for nuggets of insight into the former Samantha Micelli’s life as a grown-up: She’s a UNICEF Ambassador and the Founding Ambassador of the Global Network’s initiative for Neglected Tropical Diseases, an organization to which she recently pledged $250,000. (“The fact that these diseases can be eradicated was, to me, like a no-brainer,” she says. “It’s like a sale in global health!”). She has a wildly successful line of Major League Baseball wear for women called Touch by Alyssa Milano, an entrepreneurial sideline the baseball fanatic created out of, she says, necessity. “I was sick of going in to purchase stuff and not being able to find anything that wasn’t pink,” she says (she’s a diehard Dodgers fan who has a weekly blog on the MLB web site). “It drove me nuts ‘cause it was some guy’s answer to, “What are we gonna do for the women? Oh, we’ll just make it pink, they’ll love it!” Lastly, and most importantly, she’s available.
The bad news about this: Beyond a quickie, 11-month marriage to rocker Cinjin Tate a few years back, Milano seems to have a thing for baseball players. Her last three boyfriends—Carl Pavano, Barry Zito, and Brad Penney—have all been Major League pitchers. “I’ve gotten such shit about my dating choices,” she says. “Like, every single article about the great achievement of the clothing line is also about how I’m, ‘The chick that dates athletes,’ and there’s an insane double standard going on.” As she wrote in a recent MLB blog entry, “…there are many players….who have dated many Screen Actors Guild members. I won’t name names (cough Derek Jeter cough). And yet, those guys are considered cool….[but] women who have dated more than one guy in any profession are easy targets for ridicule….And I ask you this—what girl in her right mind wouldn’t want to date a ball player?”
The good news about this: The girl no guy ever got over might not be such an unattainable fantasy after all. Milano says she’s sworn off athletes. Her current fantasy? “I’d love to just find a good plumber or doctor.”