- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 4, 2001

The "boy next door" could become America's next teen idol.
Like Geoff, a Maryland 14-year-old, who last year happened to be walking through a mall where representatives from Decipher, a Norfolk company, were searching for teen-age "hunks" for their Boy Crazy trading cards.
Geoff didn't expect to be picked as one of the 363 "boys next door" who had their faces printed on millions of trading cards, but a few months later he received his confirmation — and parental-permission slips — in the mail.
"It was awesome," he said. "I have loved every minute of it. It was such a confidence boost for me. I'll remember it forever."
Decipher's 10-city search for next year's batch of teen trading cards stops at the Mall in Columbia in Maryland today.
"[The cards] have been extremely successful," said Monica Jones, Decipher's vice president of marketing. "They have been our most successful launch from a P.R. standpoint."
Boy Crazy started with the release of 10 million cards in January 2000. Each card showed one of the boys in the 2000 series. The cards were sold in packs of nine for about $2. All of the cards sold within three months, so Decipher, which markets collectible cards and games, printed 20 million more.
The 2002 trading cards will feature boys and young men between the ages of 12 and 19, Miss Jones said.
Geoff, card No. 361, tries as much as possible to keep up with his fan mail, which is submitted online.
"I have a lot to catch up on," he said. "Late at night, I click on and start writing." His mother sometimes reminds him to keep up with his fan mail.
The boys are identified only by their first names, their states and the small amount of personal information they supply. They are not paid, Miss Jones said.
Geoff has blue eyes and brown hair, according to his trading card. He likes spicy food, Pepsi, Abercrombie & Fitch and Jeeps. His favorite colors are blue and green, and his favorite cause is world peace.
"I look for a girl that can laugh a lot," he said. "I like someone who is funny and not fake." He said he submitted ideas about what he likes in girls for the 2001 Boy Crazy magazine, which will be published in September.
Many of his friends are going to try out for the 2002 contest, he said.
If they make the cut, they will have some local company.
Last year, 52 boys were picked in Maryland, said Decipher spokeswoman Stephanie Kirby. That was second only to Colorado.
"There were just so many great guys at the casting call [in Maryland]," she said. Boys from 26 states and two Canadian provinces were chosen.
The target audience is teen-age girls who are interested in boys. Before developing Boy Crazy in 1999, Decipher sold cards aimed at male audiences, but the company wanted to create something that would appeal to girls.
"What girls are interested in is talking about boys and relationships," Miss Jones said.
All of the boys' pictures are posted on Decipher's Boy Crazy Web site (www.boycrazy.com), where more than 300,000 girls are online members.
Girls can read and write fan mail to specific boys on the site.
They also can match themselves with their "everyday" icons through the Zodiac Matchmaker, an online search engine that allows girls to match themselves with Boy Crazy boys who have compatible zodiac signs.
The trading cards send girls the important message that there are "many fish in the sea," Miss Jones said.
Decipher wants to put girls in the driver's seat and let them know that they can be choosy, Miss Jones said. The cards encourage them to pick from many boys and figure out what they really want.
The company wants its boy-crazy girls to get involved in picking its 2002 boys.
"Hey, girls!" the company's Web site screams. "We want to offer you the chance to nominate the boys for the 2002 series! If you have a friend, brother or crush … let him know and send him all the information he needs to put himself into the selection pool."
Boys can apply online or attend searches, such as the one being held today.
At such events, Decipher asks aspiring idols to fill out questionnaires, and it takes a few pictures of them, Miss Jones said.
The trading cards are sold at 7-Eleven, the Game Keeper, DAPY and FAO Schwarz.

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