Glee's Darren Criss: Teenage Dream

updated 05/16/2011 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/16/2011 AT 01:00 AM EDT

By now, you'd think Darren Criss would be tired of "Teenage Dream," the Katy Perry song he belted out on his first episode of Glee last November-and which became the hit FOX musical's most-downloaded song ever. "But I love it," says Criss, 24. "If I'm in my car and it's on the radio, I turn it up, put my windows down and pray no one sees me!"

It's that fun-filled attitude, combined with an irresistible voice, that's turned the San Francisco native into an overnight sensation as dreamy gay teen Blaine. Two years after his failed Glee tryout for Finn, it took two more auditions (and a haircut to chop off his "surfer-bum hair") before Criss landed the role of Blaine. Straight in real life-"In an ideal world, it wouldn't matter. But I figure being up-front is more empowering to both the gay and straight communities," he says-Criss has now earned millions of fans. Not that he'll let the adulation go to his head. "Everything is just so darn surreal," he says. "I just hope they don't get sick of me!"

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