As bad boy Jagger Cates on General Hospital and an iconic Calvin Klein underwear model, Antonio Sabato Jr. was one of the biggest sex symbols of the '90s. The 37-year-old Italian stallion and father of two now wants to settle down with the help of his new VH1 reality series, My Antonio, in which 13 women vie for his affections in Hawaii. Looking back at the gay role that landed him the cover of The Advocate in 2004, our Antonio tells us why, despite an abundance of enhanced bosoms, he won't be boarding the Rock of Love bus anytime soon.
Advocate.com: It's been five years since you were on the cover of The Advocate to promote your first gay role, in the film Testosterone — a pretty big honor for a straight man, especially if he's not President Obama. Looking back, what stands out for you about that whole experience?
Antonio Sabato Jr.: I was a little disappointed with the way the movie turned out after the cut I saw at the Toronto Film Festival. Everyone seemed happy with it, so I was surprised to see a different finished version of it. The director cut some stuff I was in that I thought was hysterical. But most importantly, nobody told me about it, and that's what really frustrated and disappointed me. The producers could've at least told me things were changing. Besides that, I had a great time working with everybody on the film, I was proud that I did the film, and I was proud that I was on the cover of your magazine as well.
Not long after Testosterone you played gay in the TV movie Deadly Skies. Because you were a bachelor and Advocate cover boy taking on more gay roles, did you find fans questioning your sexuality in real life?
No, everybody knows that I'm not gay, but I don't tend to worry about what people say. I just played a serial killer and that doesn't mean I kill people every day. It's stupid to think that. With Testosterone it was a challenge for me as a straight guy to play a psychologically disturbed person who's going with men and women at the same time. It's something I obviously don't do in my private life, so why not try it on film? But at the same time, it's also a compliment if people thought I was really gay, because then I guess I did an OK job. [Laughs] With the gay and straight thing, people always focus on the negative. Everybody's equal at the end of the day. It's just a sexual preference. We're in 2009, so I think it's enough talking about who's who or who's what. It's nobody's business.
While promoting General Hospital: Night Shift on Chelsea Lately last year, you discussed the soap's gay story line, saying, "There always has to be a gay story line nowadays; otherwise you're not hip." So is there a hip gay twist on My Antonio?
No. But networks do tend to focus on what the other networks are doing — if it works for them, they have to do it too. Hopefully things are changing. If a story line is about a gay person falling in love with another man, it should be because it's a good story line, not because they're trying to get ratings out of it. But my show is about me falling in love with a woman.