It's hard keeping up with the Hollywood dating scene. Some stars are single one minute and seriously involved with a baby on the way the next. Others appear to be over-the-moon in love, then boom—they're back on the market. With so much confusion, we're lucky that Taylor Hicks
was crowned American Idol just in time to make the cover of our seventh annual "hot bachelors" issue. Other than his hair color, there are no gray areas here. "I've been in a bubble for the last seven months—there's been no time to date," says Hicks. "Now I'm ready." The 29-year-old Birmingham, Ala., bar musician sang and danced his way into the fantasies of fans who flood Internet message boards with topics like "Oh, Taylor! Dreamy sigh." We met Hicks at the perfect moment—right on the cusp of fame. "I'm going to answer your questions as though I haven't been named the American Idol," Hicks told executive editor Liz Sporkin and senior editor Lisa Arbetter as they sat down to interview him over a plate of ribs at Manhattan's Blue Smoke restaurant ("I'm so excited for ribs; I haven't eaten all day!" he said). And with refreshing candor, he talked about his "amazing journey" from feeling unworthy of a serious girlfriend because of his career struggles to the "exciting time" he's having now that his future is bright. "Taylor is like Rocky," says Sporkin. "He made it against the odds, he's got something really special, and you can't help rooting for him." To certify his dateability, we also talked to two of his former girlfriends. (Yes, he's friendly with all his exes.) Read what longtime love Suzanne Thrash has to say on p. 77 and go to www.people.com/bachelors2006 to hear from his high school prom date Brooke Kelley Campbell and a whole lot more. In addition to Hicks, there are many other single guys in this issue, from Hollywood's hottest actors to rescue workers with looks that won't quit. Taylor, we hope you find love. Readers, we hope you love what you see. As Hicks would say, Wooooooooo!