Gina Vivinetto’s Greatest Hits

Who was your embarrassing early childhood crush?

The Onion‘s A.V. Club has a fun piece called “Embarrassing Early Childhood Crushes”. The article mentions some great 1970s, ’80s and ’90s crushes, everyone from Six Million Dollar Man Lee Majors to Who’s the Boss‘s Alyssa Milano.

In the interest of being totally open with you guys, I am going to attempt to recall my major crushes from kindergarten to adolescence, in order. This is no small feat, especially considering my sexuality in my formative years was, seemingly, all over the place. It’s interesting to note, too, that when you work in the media as an adult, you sometimes awkwardly cross paths with your former crushes.


In, the beginning, when I was a tiny tot, it was pretty little Shaun Cassidy. The Hardy Boys was must watch TV for me. Looking back, it might have been peer pressure since all the girls on my block were into him. (I once forced Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney to admit to me that Shaun was her first crush, too):

At the same time, I had a pretty bad crush on Linsday Wagner as Jaime Sommers in The Bionic Woman. Jaime was so pretty when she jumped high and ran fast and pushed her hair out of the way to use her bionic ear. And why did she have to push hair out of the way if her ear was so bionic?:

Next, I got a little ballsier with my first rock star crush: spooky, bell-bottomed Jimmy Page. I would stare at the pictures of him playing his pretty Les Pauls and SGs (the double-neck!) on my brother’s wall-sized Led Zeppelin poster:

That was followed by both Danny and Sandy (Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta) in Grease. Admittedly, this movie confused me and set a tone for the next ten years or so. I was so attracted to both of them. I met Olivia Newton-John a few years ago and although I was dared to, I did not tell her she played a pivotal early role in my choosing (proverbially) stuffing over potatoes:

Peter Criss. Everyone in my neighborhood was a KISS freak and you had to pick a favorite so I picked Peter Criss. I don’t know that I had a crush on him, he was just the one I fixated on (and the one I pretended to be when my friends and I would “play” KISS).

KISS was quickly bumped for Blondie. My attraction to Debbie Harry was immediate and thrilling. I wanted to simultaneously be her and marry her:

By 5th or 6th grade, all the little baby lesbians were getting their mandatory crush on Kristy McNichol, but I fell hard for Tatum O’Neal, her pre-cracked out co-star in Little Darlings.

Ah, the Nick Rhodes years. I loved Duran Duran‘s resident girly man from grades 6-8. I met him, too, years later. We hugged. He was still beautiful.

The mid-1980s saw my whirlwind affair with Jodie Foster. My crush on Jodie marked the first time (that I know of) I ever got a crush on an actual lesbian. My mom, who had impeccable gaydar used to tell me, “I wish you could find a nice girl like Jodie Foster.” Meaning a girl who wasn’t goth or moody or a ward of the state  — basically not like the girls I was running around with in high school — and for once I agreed with my mom’s dating advice:

High school also brought one of my last hard-core boy crushes: River Phoenix. I liked River’s long hair and his veganism. I never spoke to him, but those of us involved in the music scene in St. Pete/Tampa got to see and play with his Gainesville band, Aleka’a Attic, quite a bit. I once danced on a dance floor next to River (the song was “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” by Sly & The Family Stone) and another time I ate lunch next to him in a Gainesville vegetarian dive.

Also during high school: Lisa Bonet. I watched The Cosby Show just to look at her (and I was militantly anti-TV back then). I loved Lisa’s bohemian attitude and clothes.

Okay, it’s your turn. It’s no fun unless you play, too. Name your crushes.

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28 thoughts on “Who was your embarrassing early childhood crush?

  1. tampastica on said:

    Andy Gibb, Tom Selleck, Donny Osmond and Erik Estrada!

    I think I had a gay crush on Valerie Bertinelli, too!

  2. Anastasia Romanov, Bea Arthur, Janine Turner as Maggie O’Connell from Northern Exposure, Wonder Woman, The Judds

  3. David Cassidy
    Andy Gibb
    Sissy Spacek
    Harrison Ford

  4. Like you, my first love was Shaun Cassidy.
    Second, Peter Criss – my first drummer, but certainly not my last.
    We’re two for two, but that’s where it ends…
    Next up, Billy Joel – my first Jewish boy, but certainly not my last.
    Matt Dillon – Tex, Dally and Rusty: The Holy Trinity of teenage heartthrob roles.
    John Taylor – that man still makes me swoon. When I met him I couldn’t even speak.
    In high school it was Gary Oldman and Mickey Rourke – the sensitive tortured artist type.
    And Robert Smith – he made me believe that straight men wore eyeliner. How wrong I was.

  5. Deb D. on said:

    Wow. WeMy earliest crushes, though, were Bobby Sherman and Donny Osmond, but that’s because I’m older than you. My cousin had crushes on Shaun Cassidy, Leif Garrett, and the Bay City Rollers.

    But yeah… Lindsay Wagner, Olivia Newton-John (PHYSICAL and Xanadu), Kristy McNichol, Tatum O’Neal, Belinda Carlisle… Throw in Rita Coolidge (for a brief period), and Lucie Arnaz (The Jazz Singer). Ha!

    I was *always* Peter Criss when we played KISS.

    I didn’t really have a crush on Lisa Bonet, but DAMN she was hot in Angel Heart.

    Oh, and… Demi Moore. ::sigh::

  6. Deb D. on said:

    I meant to say, “Wow. We’re practically twins.”

  7. Deb D. on said:

    I mentioned Demi Moore, right? Okay, good.

  8. Pingback: Speaking of Kiss: campaign T-shirts « Gina Vivinetto’s Greatest Hits

  9. Shaun Cassidy is the earliest crush I can remember. I used to kiss my hand and pretend it was him. I thought Greg Brady during the Hawaii years was hot. Then it was Andy Taylor from Duran Duran. Because the boy in the shadows is always hotter than the one in the spotlight.

  10. Fred Astaire. But that isn’t that embarrassing, really. I just used to watch a lot of old movies.

  11. VIP Boo on said:

    I remember Rock Hudson and Robert Reed (Mr. Brady) were my two biggest crushes when I was early teens…seriously. Wow! Guess the old gaydar was working at an early age!

  12. Kevin Croitz on said:

    Karen Carpenter always did for me, then it went Joan Baez, Jane Seymour, Poison Ivy from the Cramps, and finally She Hulk, call me a romantic, Kevin

  13. tglisson on said:

    TOTALLY Shaun Cassidy. What’s up with his seemingly universal appeal? I played those two LPs to death, had my room covered in posters (and duh, of COURSE I kissed them), bought every issue of Tiger Beat (ugh) Mom would let me, and had the same fight with my Dad at 7 every damn Sunday night: “Hardy Boys” vs “60 Minutes.”

    Then overnight, I grew up, asked my parents for Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours,” and turned my obsessive fan allegiances over to Lindsay Buckingham. Who, goddammit, is STILL kinda hot. (You know, for an old guy.)

  14. John Travolta, Alan Alda, Frank Langella (pre-teen years)
    Teen years: Bjorn Borg, Adam Ant, Joe Strummer, Roger Daltry, Ray Davies, Sting, any guy in a punk band
    Johnny Depp (ongoing)
    My gal pal crush was and always will be Brooke Shields.

  15. conner on said:

    my first crush is so lame.

    it was on..


    sandra bullock when she was in speed. i was in third grade or so and i think i watched that movie at least ten times. i wanted to punch keanu reeves in the fucking face every time he touched her ha

  16. Okay, since someone mentioned Fred Astaire, I went through a bit of a Norma Shearer phase. Really.

  17. I can’t believe I forgot my huge Dead Crush – James Dean!

  18. preteen- Donny Osmond, Russel Johnson (yes, the Professor from Gilligan’s Island…I’m sure this early crush warped my dating choices for years), Lee Majors, Christopher Knight, Randy Mantooth

    teen- James Dean, Anthony Perkins, Richard Chamberlain (yes, I was a teen girl in the 80’s with crushes on gay movie stars of the 50’s/60’s), John Cleese,(most anyone funny, smart, tall and British, for that matter) and (perhaps most embarrassing of all) an intense crush on Alan Thicke circa “Thicke of the Night”. Oy!

  19. One more thing- speaking of Debbie Harry, a couple months ago I read a great new book that features the transformative powers of Blondie as a major theme. It’s called “Debbie Harry Sings in French” by Meaghan Brothers. I’ll be lazy and just pop the Amazon summary here:
    “Johnny’s had kind of a tough life so far, and he’s always been a bit of a freak. His goth look usually includes black nail polish and a little mascara.When he discovers Debbie Harry, the lead singer of Blondie, he not only likes her music but realizes that he kind of, sort of, wants to BE her. He’d like to be cool and tough and beautiful like her. He’d like to dress like her. He’s not gay, at least he doesn’t think so. So what does it mean? And what should he tell his amazing new girlfriend?
    This wise, hip novel introduces shades of gray into the black-and-white ideas of sexuality and gender. Anyone who has ever wished they could be a little bit tough and a little bit glamorous will recognize themselves in Johnny.”

  20. The earliest and most pure crushes were simple:

    Flash Gordon
    Indiana Jones

    By sixth grade they became complicated when it was abundantly clear that I was supposed to be out of my mind in love with the entire cast of the Outsiders. I tried to cultivate that love by plastering Tiger Beat posters all over my wall. C. Thomas Howell seemed the most likely candidate for real love, mostly because he struck me as a nice guy who would probably be my friend. At some point I got aggravated with all the boy posters and took them down–except for Flash and Superman.

    I had various crushes on female characters from Dr. Who and Star Trek in junior high, but the huge crushes from that era were Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepherd in Moonlighting, Cagney–yes, Cagney, and then Sigourney Weaver exploded into my life and it was all over from there. I was gone, over the moon for her from Alien on.

    And then there was the crush I had on you. But that was grown up and not embarrassing. Oh wait. Maybe it is embarrassing. Hmm.

  21. ginavivinetto on said:

    Cathy, I was thinking the same thing about our James Dean crushes. I had a life-sized poster of him on my bedroom door.

  22. I had the same poster!!

  23. I can’t believe only one person said Johnny Depp. What is this world coming to?

  24. I had that life-sized poster of James Dean too. It graced the door of my freshman college dorm room.

  25. Kevin Croitz on said:

    I forgot to mention Adrienne Barbeau from Escape from Ny, mmmeeooww

  26. I agree with all of your female choices. I also liked Hope from Thirtysomething, the girls from Abba, and Charlies Angels. You might enjoy reading this:


  27. Lisa on said:

    I’ve had MANY crushes, but I don’t really know which one was my biggest!

  28. I was 8 years old in 1978 ~ and my very 1st crush on a TV Star was all the women on Charlie’s Angels, Then it was Adrienne Barbeau from ” John Carpenter’s 1980’s horror movie ~ THE FOG “.

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