09/14/2009 at 01:00 AM EDT
It's not difficult to meet women," says Antonio Sabato Jr. Well, of course not: Standing in the California sun, the torso that earned him fame as a Calvin Klein underwear model and General Hospital star is so chiseled that his pecs cast a shadow over his abs. But at 37, Sabato wants more than just to meet someone. "I'd rather be in a relationship," he says. "My career has been up and down. I'm raising two kids. And I'm doing it alone."
His solution? The new VH1 reality show My Antonio, in which 13 bachelorettes—along with his opinionated mother, Yvonne—traveled to Hawaii last January for five weeks of speed dating. Adjusting to the spotlight of reality TV was jarring for the actor, who shares custody of his son Jack, 15, with mom and actress Virginia Madsen, and daughter Mina, 7, with her mother, Kristin Rossetti, in L.A. "I don't go to premieres anymore," says Sabato, who drops his children off at school and cooks them Italian pasta dishes for dinner. "I'd rather be at home with my kids."
Sabato is mum about whether he finds love on the show—"It was about making a connection; not 'Here's my wife.'" But at least one Sabato is benefiting from My Antonio: Jack. "His friends are like, 'Your dad is the coolest in the world!'" says Sabato. "He's going to be very popular when he goes to high school this month."