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‘Hottest Bachelor’ Lopez laughs about loincloth pose

"We made the perfect choice,” said People magazine's Julie Jordan as she revealed the magazine’s pick for Hottest Bachelor this year: well-chiseled actor Mario Lopez. “I felt like Mowgli from ‘The Jungle Book,’ ” Lopez said of his loincloth pose.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

The headline on People magazine’s annual “Hottest Bachelor” issue says it all: “Mario Lopez Bares All.”

“We thought of this issue kind of as the ‘summer fling,’ ” Julie Jordan, People’s chief correspondent for special issues, told TODAY’s Natalie Morales Wednesday in New York. “We wanted to re-create the sexiest poses in history, so we needed a bachelor who was in really good shape. And I’ve got to say: We made the perfect choice.”

“Some of it’s a little much for morning television,” Morales commented as she paged through the photos of Lopez inside the magazine. A prime example is Lopez’ re-creation of the infamous bearskin-rug pose Burt Reynolds struck for Playgirl magazine back in the early 1970s.

Lopez beamed as Morales and Jordan showed off the picture — with certain areas blurred out for television.

“It didn’t seem so bad to me,” he said of doing the Reynolds pose. “The thing with Burt is, he’s a lot hairier than I am. So he’s kind of one with the bear. You don’t know where the bear ends and Burt starts.”

There’s no such question with Lopez, who shows off his chiseled form in a number of other poses, including the classic loincloth shot of Christopher Atkins in “The Blue Lagoon.”

“I felt like Mowgli from ‘The Jungle Book,’ ” Lopez laughed as the women showed off the picture. “Here, throw on this loincloth with these shells.”

Sumo no more
Lopez is known as one of the most chiseled guys in Hollywood — or anywhere else, for that matter. But, he confessed to People, he was the world’s chubbiest baby. “I looked like a sumo wrestler. My mom had to pull the fat folds apart when she bathed me!” the magazine quotes him as saying.

He got over it at a young age and was an accomplished athlete in high school, finishing seventh one year in the California state high school wrestling tournament. In 1991, he survived all three rounds of a stint on “American Gladiators.”

Today, he doesn’t mind showing off his sculpted body. He’s even written his own fitness book, “Mario Lopez's Knockout Fitness,” in which he reveals that the secret to fitness is finding an activity you love doing and having fun with it.

“It’s always been very important to me,” he said of staying fit. “It’s always been part of my lifestyle.”

But in a later TODAY segment, TODAY's Kathie Lee Gifford took a good look at the pictures and concluded that Lopez is not flawless. Choosing one shot in which Lopez appears in boxer shorts with running weights around his ankles, she pointed at his right foot and declared, “You’ve got a big, ugly bunion. You're not perfect.”“That’s a shadow,” Lopez protested.

The 34-year-old actor was born in San Diego and grew up in Chula Vista, Calif., the son of parents who had immigrated to the United States from Mexico. By the age of 12, he had a role in the ABC comedy, “a.k.a. Pablo” and another role on “Kids Incorporated” as a drummer. Lopez confesses to People that his first kiss was shared with Fergie, the present-day pop star who was one of his “Kids Incorporated” co-stars. “She likes to point out ‘no tongue,’ ” he laughed.

He gained his first true fame as a teenager, when he played A.C. Slater on “Saved by the Bell.” He was also Officer Bobby Cruz on USA Network’s “Pacific Blue” series, and was a co-host on “The Other Half,” a male version of “The View.” And he sashayed to a second-place finish during his stint on “Dancing With the Stars.” One of the busiest men in Hollywood, he does boxing commentary and hosts MTV's hit series “America's Best Dance Crew,” all while starring as Zach in the Broadway hit “A Chorus Line.”

Playing the field
Lopez’ love life has been comparably busy, as is well documented by the tabloids. His two-week marriage to onetime “Doritos Girl” Ali Landry in 2004 was annulled after she accused him of infidelity throughout their relationship. He was most recently linked to champion dancer Karina Smirnoff, but said that at the moment, he is a free agent in the dating game.

“I'll say that my girlfriend right now is Knockout Fitness, ‘A Chorus Line,’ ‘Extra’ and my new show on Lifetime [“Salsa and the City,” a reality show pilot]. It's not fair to anyone I'm dating. That's why I'm not in a serious relationship,” he told People.

Pictures of Lopez working out or having fun at the beach are frequently posted on gay Web sites, and Lopez told People that he does get hit on by men, which he views as a compliment. “I'm very flattered being popular in the gay community, because they are a hip, cool community. They're very cutting-edge, so they like me and I think that’s great,” he told People.

He also confessed to the magazine that he once had sex on the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride at Disneyland, and that he enjoys going out with women as much as 10 years his senior because, he told People, “there aren’t as many games.”

Accompanying Lopez on People’s list of sexiest bachelors, representing “something for everyone, every age range,” are Jason Lewis, 37, of the “Sex and the City” movie; David Cook, 25, an “American Idol” winner, seventh season; Gerard Butler, 38, of “300” and “P.S. I Love You”; Terrence Howard, 39, of “Iron Man” and “Hustle & Flow”; Adam Levine, 29, Maroon 5's lead singer; Ben Barnes, 26, of “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian”; Reggie Love, 26, Barack Obama's personal aide; Penn Badgley, 25, of “Gossip Girl”; Chace Crawford, 22, also of “Gossip Girl”; and Ed Westwick, 20, also of “Gossip Girl.”