Adrian Zmed turned me gay. He's so "I Love the 80's" I have to restrain myself from feeling the need to make excuses for calling him out. I was, afterall, only 11 when T.J. Hooker premiered on television, at which point I instantly became obsessed with Officer Vince Romano. But enough excuses. I'm owning it. My desperate hope to see Adrian Zmed in a shirtless scene (there were several in T.J. Hooker) made it impossible to deny: I was gay.
The Eastern European look (interpreted as "Italian" for his character on T.J. Hooker) was hot. The thick dark hair and olive skin was sex on a stick in my mind. It's not like he was bodybuilder, but he was meaty enough (seriously, 03:06 in this clip totally transports me back to my adolescent giddiness for Adrian). Officer Vince Romano was a green cop, fiery and hot-headed (hot, hot, hot), who had to learn self-restraint and smarts from his much older partner played by William Shatner (not, not, not).
The occasional glimpses of Adrian shirtless in T.J. Hooker would likely have been enough to cement him in my gay biography, but further shirtlessness in the movie Bachelor Party sealed the deal. Even playing an über-hetero horndog, I had eyes for no one else for a slice in time. Adrian (who can actually sing) ripping off his shirt as he sings is a fantastic intersection of teen idol meets movie star meets rock star.
I don't actually remember Adrian's appearance alongside Scott Baio on Battle of the Network Stars (which will probably require its own installment in "What Turned Me Gay..." loved, loved, loved seeing my favorite stars trying to be jocks on BNS). But this shot of Adrian in a speedo and Scott in a towel captures such an authentic moment in my emergence as a gay boy. Skinny-but-fit white boys with broad chests, skinny waists, and the hint of gym-bunny abs were both who I wanted to be and who I wanted to be with. Before I ever conceived of the notion of fucking, sucking, mutual masturbation, or even kissing another man, really, the idea of speedo-clad Adrian with his arm wrapped around my neck, leaning against me bare chest to bare chest was my first, sort of pathetic in hindsight, fantasy of male-male affection.