East Liberty native Lonnie Gaetano is sooo sexy.
How sexy is he?
He's so sexy that he's representing Pennsylvania in the "Sexiest Bachelor in America Pageant" airing 8 p.m. Monday on Fox.
Gaetano, a model and actor in New York who just landed a small role in Mariah Carey's new flick, "All That Glitters," didn't really give much thought to the pageant after auditioning for it at the New York City Hard Rock Cafe last month. "I just stopped by and gave it a shot, not knowing that anything would come out of it."
In the competition, taped Sept. 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Gaetano, who is half Italian and half black, put his studliness up against 50 other swoon-inducing males representing every state and Washington, D.C. The winner, who got more than $100,000 in cash and prizes, has already been decided, but Gaetano must keep the secret or hand over his first-born child to Fox. Just kidding about the first-born child part.
Similar to a beauty pageant for women, segments included question and answer, formal wear and bathing suits. And as pageant veterans will tell you, it's not all fun.
"It was great, but it was a lot of work," Gaetano said. "We didn't get a chance to do too much gambling." But there were some friendships formed. "It was amazing how 50 different [guys] got along for five days and just bonded," Gaetano said.
It's also amazing that with his good looks, Gaetano did not initially think about a career in modeling and acting. His mother, Susanne, who owns Pinache boutique in East Liberty, had always told him he should try modeling. "I thought I was too cool," he said.
Instead, Gaetano wanted to follow in the footsteps of his mentor, radio DJ "Brother Matt" Ledbetter, an institution in Pittsburgh urban radio. "I always wanted to do what he did growing up. He told me I had to go to school for communications; I went to school for communications," Gaetano said.
After graduating from Peabody High School, he spent a year at Cheney State University, then transferred to Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He acted in plays throughout college, including a few Kuntu Repertory Theater productions.
After college, he decided to take his mother's advice and try his hand at modeling. Locally, he landed some print assignments and a few commercials before heading off to the Big Apple in 1994. One of his mother's friends there let him live with her until he got on his feet.
Gaetano landed a gig as a production assistant on Spike Lee's "Clockers" before pressing his way into a role in the 1995 film. He's also had parts in "Law & Order" and "New York Undercover" and last year's "The Best Man."
In a career where gorgeous men are a dime a dozen, Gaetano has become philosophical. "You have to be able to take 'no' for an answer," he said. "It's a lot of luck sometimes, but you have to have a strong head on your shoulders. You can't take it personal at all."