FOR SOME PEOPLE IT'S A PORSCHE, for others, a Manhattan penthouse. But for Ingo Rademacher, who plays suave, sexy tycoon Jasper "Jax" Jacks on ABC's General Hospital, success is a tuna omelette. Frying one in the kitchen of his Pacific Palisades, Calif., bachelor pad, the blond, 6'2" hunk says, "I used to have to buy the dark, nasty tuna by the caseload." Now, he boasts of his stash of white albacore, "I can afford the good stuff."
As Charlie the Tuna might say, the guy's got good taste—and better luck. Eighteen months ago, when he was just another unemployed actor, Rademacher got tapped by GH to play a charming interloper who derails the romance between willful Brenda Barrett (played by Vanessa Marcil) and mobster Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard). "The producers thought I would come in, try to break them up, then they'd get back together," says Rademacher. "It hasn't worked that way." Last May, Brenda and Jax wed and, says Rademacher, "most of the fans want them to be together."
In fact, so sizzling is their chemistry, some viewers assume that Marcil, 28, and Rademacher, 25, are an item off-camera too. "We did have an instant attraction," says Marcil, "but it's not romantic." In fact, Rademacher, who isn't dating anyone now, is a big flirt on the set. "He calls everyone 'Beautiful' and hugs all the girls," says Marcil. "He's like a little kid."
That energy may have some genetic origins. Rademacher was 10 and his sister Anne 12 when their parents, Arndt, a graphic arts designer, and Roswitha, a homemaker, impulsively packed up and moved from Iserlohn-Letmathe, West Germany, to a 400-acre Angora goat ranch and vegetable farm in New South Wales, Australia. After nearly four years of droughts and floods, they sold the spread and resettled in coastal Queensland, where Rademacher, a natural athlete, excelled in surfing, sailing and horseback riding, but not school.
Rademacher enrolled in Brisbane University in 1990 but dropped out after six months. After working as a waiter and handyman at a nearby resort, he turned to modeling. "It was a lot of fun," he says of his two-year career, "but I wanted to get into acting." Two weeks after starting acting classes in Sydney, he got his break and was cast as a surfer in the Aussie soap Paradise Beach. "The press said it was just a bunch of models getting together," he vents. "Well, yeah, that was true." But, he adds, "though Beach was canceled after a year and' a half, they still show it in Germany."
On his agent's advice, Rademacher moved to L.A. in 1994. A former Beach costar, Jaason Simmons, now on Bay-watch, introduced him to castmate Mike Newman, who let the struggling actor stay in his guest house, where Rademacher still lives. Despite rejections (Baywatch; Models, Inc.; The City), "he was not beat down at all," says Newman. Then, in late fall of 1995, GH's executive producer, Wendy Riche, saw Rademacher's audition tape for The City and immediately cast him as Jax. Like his character, "Ingo's pretty sure of himself," says Riche, "but he's extremely grounded."
Determined to eventually make it in movies, Rademacher takes acting classes. His hardest lesson, he says: learning to cry on the show. "To cry on tape, I imagine how I would feel if I were in Jax's situation," he muses. "I don't think about something that's happened in my life." Because, says Rademacher with a grin almost as broad as his chest, "there's nothing really to cry about."
MICHAEL A. LIPTON
ANNE-MARIE OTEY in Pacific Palisades