And one with some pretty good perks. Faustino has just released his first record, The Balistyx Album. A compilation of songs performed by various groups at his club, it includes "I Told Ya," written and sung by Faustino. As he sings in this rap number, the diminutive Faustino certainly is "standing tall at 5 and 3/ Yeah, I'm as dope as can be."
You wouldn't know how dope, though, from his home life in the Brady Bunch-style house in North-ridge, Calif., where he still lives with his parents and little brother. Even after six seasons on a show that has done more to give the nuclear family a bad name than The Munsters, Faustino calls himself, only half-kidding, "a mama's boy." Confides his mother, Kay, a housewife, "He didn't like to be left at nursery school. He found that very traumatic." Years later, Faustino still seeks out his parents for comfort. "When David hits a bump in the road," says Kay, "he always comes home and we work it out together."
It's partly his parents' influence that has sent Faustino off in other directions. "They always told me I gotta be well-rounded," he says. "Some of those kid stars who got screwed up were pretty talented. My mom warns me every day what can happen. Sometimes she clips the headlines out and puts them in my room."
It was in this cautious vein that his mother and father, Roger, a costumer at North Hollywood's Western Costume shop, set about raising a family of child actors. Randy, now 29 and a sound engineer, appeared on Maude and The Streets of San Francisco. Nichole, 24 and a preschool teacher, made commercials for Clorox, among other products. And Michael, 12, is an up-and-comer with an acclaimed performance in 1990's HBO film Judgment.
David's big break came at the age of 3 months when he played a clown in a Lily Tomlin special ("a chick clown—that's the scary part," he says), and he then moved on to commercials. "Every time you'd turn on the set you'd see me eating a prune in a prune ad," he says. "My friends used to call me Prune Boy, even on the football field." He later appeared on such shows as Little House on the Prairie, Fantasy Island and Family Ties. When he landed Married...with Children during seventh grade, he traded Catholic school for on-set tutoring and got his high school equivalency degree last year.
An omen of fame came on Halloween 1988, when Faustino went trick-or-treating with pal Soleil Moon Frye, TV's Punky Brewster. "I wasn't wearing a costume because I thought I was too cool to dress up," he says. "This kid came up to me and said, 'Who are you supposed to be, Bud Bundy or something?' "
Perish the thought. "I don't have the same personality as Bud," insists the confident Faustino, whose TV character endures so many pitiable pubescent woes that last season he escaped into a rappin' alter ego, Grandmaster B. "Bud can't relax," says Faustino. "I'm definitely more mellow." His TV dad, Ed O'Neill, who occasionally drops by the Faustino house for a bottle of Roger's homemade spaghetti sauce, affectionately concurs. "I call him David Slowstino 'cause he's late to the set a lot," O'Neill says. "He'll call from his car phone saying he's on his way from some club or premiere."
Faustino, who drives a silver BMW 525, doesn't lack for a social life. He and costar Christina Applegate, who plays sister Kelly, have a nice sibling thing going off-camera. In his bedroom next to his lava lamp, he even has a photo of them together. Says Applegate: "When we were younger, we'd have little fights all the lime. But we ended up bonding. He's my buddy." "She's like my sister," Faustino agrees. "She'll tell me her guy problems, I'll tell her my girl problems."
What girl problems? "Sometimes I'll be with a girl and I can tell she's still thinking she's watching Married...with Children," he says. "They aren't able to get to know me." He recently ended a two-year romance. "I was pretty much in love," he says, "but I'm still young, so it's hard to be with the same girl for a long time." Potential Faustino love interests, just for the record, should be "real fine, small and lots of fun," he says, "and they should know how to cook pasta."
They should also be prepared to contend with his superenergetic rappin' persona. As he sings in "I Told Ya," "Come y'all and see me, not on the tele-TV/ As Grandmaster B-E or even Bud Bundy/ But as the funky rhymatical flow-er/ And that's the way it has to be!"
JOHN GRIFFITHS in Los Angeles
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