WOMAN OF THE YEARS
Jean-Claude Van Damme deserves his Muscles from Brussels moniker, but when it comes to ladies, the brawny Hard Target star is looking for brains. "No. 1," says Van Damme, 32, "is intelligence. I love exciting conversation. Beauty is important, and what makes women beautiful most is charm. Of course, physical attraction isn't something I ignore. I want the lady at my side to be in good shape, but she doesn't have to be Mrs. Muscles." Hilling all targets is so hard, admits Van Damme, "I can think of only one woman who is intelligent, charming, a real lady and yet knows her place beside a man: Katharine Hepburn."

CAN WE DIS?
Comedian Sandra Bernhard's new book is called Love, Love and Love, but that's not her feeling toward Madonna, with whom she had a much hyped friendship and flirtation five years ago. "I can't say the experience with the M-word was the worst of my life, but it certainly was the most public," Bernhard told London's Sunday Times. "She did actually go off with a girlfriend [Ingrid Casares], but [the friendship's demise] wasn't about that. You can't live your life on half-truth and hype. [Love] is a reaction to that cold, ambitious, manipulative working the press, working each other, going out and looking hot, going home and being alone, dealing with the fact that you can't sleep at night, that you've got no soul. Madonna's got one big choice. Take a couple of years off and become a human being."

BACK IN THE (FORMER) U.S.S.R.
The Pet Shop Boys, England's wry pop duo, shot to international acclaim with their 1986 hit "West End Girls." But in Moscow this summer for the premiere of MTV Europe in Russia, the local girls really knocked them out. "Somehow, we are quite well known in Russia," says Neil Tennant, 39, explaining that he and Chris Lowe, 33, the other half of the duo, were treated like royally by Russian fans. "They followed us when we went shopping. It was quite useful, because the 10 kids who were trailing us could translate." But with Very, their first album in nearly three years coming out next month, the Boys did a few publicity chores too. "We did a phone-in, and the Russian fans asked very formal questions like, 'May I wish you the very best of health, Mr. Tennant?' They were really sweet. It was in the Moscow paper that it was my birthday, with a picture of me. I'm sure it wasn't in the London paper."

BOOK OF LOVE
Although Mayim Bialik, 17, may be a smart cookie—she was accepted at Harvard but has deferred her matriculation to continue in NBC's Blossom—she knows she doesn't have all the answers. Particularly when it comes to the thousands of letters she receives a week, many of them from lovesick teens seeking advice. "I can't be held responsible; I'm just a teenager," says Bialik, who spent 10 days in Paris taping the show's season opener, "Blossom in Paris" (airing Sept. 24). "I like to be logical even in situations surrounded by emotion. But it is difficult to be logical about love." So what does she tell them? "Read Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Love In the Time of Cholera."