A year ago, Jesse Camp was a jobless Manhattan drifter who dined out of Dumpsters ("My favorite was Chinese food still in their cartons"). Now that he's a well-heeled MTV veejay, he's still into culinary delights. "The whole idea of just being able to go to the grocery store and get whatever you want," says Camp, "that's a trip."
But nothing compared with the fantastic voyage that Camp began in April, when he was picked out of a crowd of 4,000 hopefuls—and awarded $25,000—in a contest to be MTV's next veejay. A glam version of Peter Pan with a slur Keith Richards would be proud of, Camp, 19, is now an MTV smash. This month he's visiting famous rock sites on a "Where's Jesse?" tour. And last month he signed a mid-six-figure recording deal. (He plays guitar and sax and sings for his quintet, Jesse and the Eighth Street Kidz.)
Not even his fibs have offended his fans. He initially told MTV he grew up in a broken home in California, but Camp was in fact raised in Granby, Conn., and went to the tony Loomis-Chaffee prep school. He says he spun the tale because he wanted to psychologically escape the fractious relationship with his father, Jay, 56, a college professor married to Henriette, 48, an elementary school principal. "It's painful when your father doesn't accept you for who you are," says Jesse. His mother insists she and her husband are proud of Jesse and "love him very much."
They're not the only ones. Since his big break, he is dating a 28-year-old actress with whom he lives in Greenwich Village. "I'm still in a daze," says Camp about his rock and roll fantasy. "I really can't believe it all. Even now."
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