05/03/1993 at 01:00 AM EDT
Looks, it bears repeating, can deceive. Who would guess, after all, perusing this flawless package of pecs and pout, that David Charvet is happier slicing spuds than playing stud? "I cook the meanest scalped potatoes." he claims, "and I make the best rack of lamb." And who would think that Charvet, 20, who plays bad-boy lifeguard Matt Brody on the syndicated hit Baywatch (known as Babewatch to its fans), would pass up a starring screen role because, he says, "there were too many sex scenes.
But then, Charvet has never been quite what he appears. He was picked to trumpet Bugle Boy menswear because the company felt he had an all-American look. Surprising for a guy who is, in fact, Gallic to the cheekbones. No matter what his nationality, Baywatch executive producer Gregory Bonann's first reaction was tidal—and typical: "He walked into the room, and we were just blown away." Born in Lyons, France, to mom Christiane, now an L.A. boutique owner, and dad Paul Guez, who founded Sasson Jeans, Charvet moved to the U.S. at age 9. Seven years later a scout from the Elite modeling agency spotted him. Uninterested at first, he changed his mind when his mother's birthday approached, and "I thought if I did a couple of modeling jobs I could get some money and buy her a nice present." A generous impulse, considering that mom played amateur barber during Charvet's schoolboy days and, he recalls, "I had a long bowl haircut. I looked like a Little Rascal." No longer. With Baywatch making waves from New Zealand to Norway, he's nearly run over on airport runways worldwide. Does he know he's a heartthrob? "Well, he's 11 not stupid," says Baywatch costar Alexandra Paul.
Once linked with the show's Pamela Anderson
, he's surfing so these days. "I like being around people, but I'm starting to like being by myself," says Charvet, who drives a 1968 Cadillac and lives in a two-bedroom Zuma Beach condo. "I read books on therapy and psychology. Everybody has problems. If I deal with them when I'm 20, I think I'll be I in pretty good shape when I'm 30."