Mario Lopez was in his late teens and starring on the sitcom Saved By the Bell when he first realized it wasn't just young girls who were swooning after him.
Two decades later, the actor and television host continues to have a big gay following which is sure to get even bigger with the launch of a line of underwear called Rated M.
'Gay fans are very loyal. And very cool,' Lopez says in a new interview with The Advocate. 'I’m honored to be embraced by the gay community. They’re the smartest and the hippest. They determine what’s hot out there.'
What Lopez hopes they will think is hot is Rated M which he says 'stands for masculine, modern, Mario … make it whatever you want it to be.'
After conquering sitcoms, Broadway and television hosting, why the move into underwear?
'I wanted to get into apparel, specifically fitness apparel,' he says. 'I’ve always liked the sort of fitness clothes that don’t look like fitness clothes. The kind you can rock with jeans and be casual. I wanted to get into that realm, and we just decided to start with underwear. I get teased because I’m always walking around in my underwear. I’m like Nature Boy — just very comfortable, I guess. There are also undershirts and T-shirts and little cool headbands that I work out in.'
Although he's not acting as much as he used to, Lopez still counts as one of his best roles that of Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis in a 1997 television film.
He says he wasn't at all concerned about playing an openly gay man in the film – especially since it gave him a chance to break away from the Saved By the Bell character of AC Slater.
'I just looked at it as a great opportunity to show a different side of myself as an actor and kind of break away from that Saturday morning sort of stereotype,' he says. 'There were lots of layers to Greg. And I was a big fan. He’s a San Diego guy, and I’m a San Diego guy. I thought it would be an honor to play him.'