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Steve Huey, better known as Hollywood Steve, is a natural host for the hit Channel 101 comedy series Yacht Rock. While attending Michigan State University, where he majored in English and wrote his thesis on Frank Zappa, Huey began working for the online music site AllMusic.com. It is such a pedigree that informs his tour of the world of soft music, the smooth sound, which Yacht Rock both satirizes and champions.

He's since left academia and music criticism for Hollywood fame and fortune. Meaning a fleeting scene as an extra in the hit movie adaptation of a Disney theme-park ride, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), and some commercial work on TV. But that pales in comparison to his role as narrator of the funniest thing the Internet has ever produced, Yacht Rock, which has recently updated with its ninth episode, a hilarious meeting of smooth troubadours Michael McDonald of the Doobie Brothers with evil hard rockers Van Halen.

If you've not had the pleasure of dipping into the mellow waters of Yacht Rock, then Mr. Skin envies you. What a voyage awaits you. But don't set sail quite yet, at least not before learning more about what powers those relaxed sails as Huey gives us a background on the smooth sounds, the women of the era that put hair on the musicians' bushy beards, and whether nudity is on the horizon as Yacht Rock sails on.

How did you get together with JD Ryznar to create the funny phenomenon that is Yacht Rock?
JD's college buddies were friends with my college buddies, so we started hanging out when he first moved to L.A. JD had done a few other pilots for Channel 101, and at first I showed up just to support and vote for them. Then I graduated to offering story feedback, which helped them cause a stir at 101 with "Smash Boys," a stirring sports melodrama about two dudes who go to the beach and hit a rubber ball back and forth with paddles. Finally, JD remembered I was an actor and figured out a way to cast me.

Are you a genuine fan of the smooth sound as defined by Yacht Rock?
I'd just started to collect that stuff a few months before Yacht Rock came around. People had been trying to shove Steely Dan down my throat for years, dating back to my job at AllMusic.com. I always resisted. "Ew, no, they sound so polished! I am a raw rock 'n' roll dude, because I am Real!" But then I turned thirty, and I started wondering what I was trying to prove to anybody. And the smoother stuff really did start to sound good. If you dig under that smooth, polished surface that a lot of people have been conditioned to hate, those musicians really do know what they're doing.

Your character, Hollywood Steve, is like Virgil to viewers' Dante, taking us on a tour of the soft-rock universe. Hollywood Steve is knowledgeable, friendly, and a bit kinky. How true is he to the real Steve Huey?
Hollywood Steve has all his roots in the real Steve Huey. But much like the musician characters, his qualities are twisted in clever and unexpected ways. For example, Hollywood Steve is a huge record geek, but in real life, there's hardly any vinyl in my frightening music library. Hollywood Steve is friendly in a psychotically chipper kind of way, but I am friendly in an easygoing, chilled-out way. Hollywood Steve is a top with men, but I am a bottom with women. Also, if I had to dispose of a body, I would be much more careful than Hollywood Steve. I shed more hair than most pets, so there would be forensic evidence all over the place.

You're a rock historian and critic with a stint at AllMusic.com to prove it, and you even have a secret heavy-metal past with your high-school band Putrid Stink. What was that experience like? Did you have groupies, wreck hotel rooms, and wear embarrassingly tight stage outfits?
Nah, we played a Drama Club cast party in the lead guitarist's basement. We didn't even have a rhythm section. The worst part was we were really sincerely trying. We vowed never to do it again. But ... then we saw an ad in Spin magazine for their "Worst Band in America" contest, and we figured we had a legitimate shot. We recorded a few original numbers (the one that most closely resembled music was called "Sex Perverts from Hell") and sent our stuff in. Spin thought we were awful enough to name-check us in their write-up. We took pride in figuring we were at least the worst band in Michigan.

You've appeared as an extra in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Are you in the sequel?
No, they decided that they couldn't repeat any of the faces from the first one, because it was a different story. We certainly wouldn't want continuity flaws becoming apparent to the legions of fans who paid such close attention that they actually noticed the four seconds I was visible in the background. My own mom didn't even see me until I paused the DVD, used the zoom-in feature, walked up to the TV, and pointed.

What other Hollywood projects is Hollywood Steve involved in?
I was in a commercial for the AM/PM convenience-store chain, talking about "lunner," the meal between lunch and dinner. Other than that, my current Hollywood project is figuring out how to get people to give me money--possibly in exchange for work.

Is there an end in sight for Yacht Rock, something apocalyptic perhaps, or is soft rock here to stay?
For Yacht Rock the series, yes. There's a plan for the finale, when the time comes. For soft rock in general, I think there really is a grassroots fan base that can enjoy this stuff more openly. Hey, Steely Dan and Michael McDonald are touring together this summer. The future is wide open--at least until the hair-metal revival finally happens. I've been praying for that one ever since I first heard Creed.

What kind of response have you been getting from the series? Are record companies opening their vaults so you guys can compile the greatest hits of the soft-rock era?
No, but they should! People who are even bigger fans than us have come out of the woodwork to tell us about their favorite West Coast session-rock obscurities. "You guys have to hear this Bill Champlin album! It's from before he joined Chicago! It's unbelievable!" But aside from the best-known artists, a lot of good soft rock is extremely hard to find on CD. If you want a basic primer, there's a good two-disc compilation called Easy Rock, on one of those as-seen-on-TV labels. Rhino Records had a good series called Radio Daze, but it's out of print now. If you want to dig into the artists covered there, you're going to be buying a lot of $35 Japanese imports.

Is soft the new hard? In other words can soft rock, the smooth sounds of Yacht Rock, ever be trendy, hip, and popular again?
Ha! I don't know if it was ever hip to begin with. But hopefully we've at least opened people's ears to the fact that this stuff can be genuinely good music. It's much more sophisticated and subtle than that over-emoted Michael Bolton/Celine Dion crap. I'm not sure that mainstream pop will ever reach that Yacht Rock level of craftsmanship again, because musical technique seems to be a thing of the past.

You call yourself a nerd, so going back to the great nerds of '80s, is there a teen sex comedy that you most relate to?
Does Welcome to the Dollhouse count as a teen sex comedy? No? Well, then I have to point to the line in Revenge of the Nerds where Skolnick explains why nerds are better in bed than jocks: All they think about is football, and all we think about is sex.

The girls of Yacht Rock are woefully underused so far in the eight epic episodes of the series. Who do you feel are the hottest of the soft-rock honeys?
Linda Ronstadt was certainly the sweetheart of the scene. Something about her mouth makes her look like a sexy cat. There's a great song by Paul Davis called "Superstar," from 1976, where he name-checks all his favorite soft-rock inspirations and specifically compliments Linda on her recent weight loss.

Will nudity play a role in upcoming adventures of Yacht Rock?
Lord, I hope not--because if it does, it's probably going to be me.

Since Mr. Skin is a site devoted to movies, is there a definitive Yacht Rock movie?
I'm hard pressed to think of one. But if you took any movie from Burt Reynolds's prime, replaced the trucks with sailboats, and threw some jazz solos into the smooth country soundtrack, you'd be pretty damn close.

Speaking of film, do you recall the first time you saw a nude scene in a mainstream movie?
Hmm. I think it might have been Beverly D'Angelo (Picture: 1) in National Lampoon's European Vacation. Where Chevy Chase is filming her in the shower? It's hard to remember. I think it was pre-puberty, so I didn't appreciate it quite as much.

Who are the actresses, either current stars or past celebrities, that really hoist the sails up your mast?
Hmm, well ... I share some important philosophical principles with Sir Mix-a-Lot. That's hard to find in most actresses. I guess the two that come to mind in that vein are America Ferrera (Picture: 1), from Real Women Have Curves, and Mia Amber Davis (Picture: 1), Rhonda from Road Trip. Being a kinky nerd, I do have the prerequisite crushes on Maggie Gyllenhaal (Picture: 1 - 2) and Janeane Garofalo (Picture: ). Also, Alicia Witt (Picture: 1 - 2). Alyson Hannigan (Picture: 1). Thora Birch (Picture: 1 - 2). Any actress in a cop outfit.

Before you set sail, what words of wisdom would you like to impart to our readers?
People often ask me about the secret of my astounding Hollywood success. Well, I've taken a lot of different classes from a lot of great teachers. And nothing has helped me survive in Hollywood more than second-period typing with Mr. Beamer. He would be even more surprised than me.

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