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WITH AN EYE ON ... : Bill Bellamy takes his charm to the edge on 'MTV Jams'

January 02, 1994|N.F. MENDOZA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Bill Bellamy has a way of looking into the camera and addressing just you . It doesn't matter if he's introducing the latest Salt N' Pepa video or interviewing Janet Jackson. There's something about the way he laughs, moves and makes eye contact that tells you you've been singled out of the Generation X audience.

The MTV veejay's flirtatious manner isn't reserved just for the camera, either.

Bellamy likes to turn the tables on a caller bantering by phone from New York about what he calls his "fun and quick" rise as the host of the rap-video show "MTV Jams." "Do you dance?" the bachelor asks, reminding a reporter that he's going to be in L.A. in a few weeks. Yet, the 26-year-old Bellamy seems to know just how much to turn up--or down--the charm.

He's even more attuned when he's on the air. Unlike many of his fellow comedians, the New Jersey native veers away from graphic sexual material, opting instead for what he calls "a lot of topical stuff, observational stuff."

"I try to make people see the lighter side of things," says Bellamy, who started out as a stand-up comedian. "Most stuff in life is so serious. Life can be so boring, that just going to work, getting by, raising kids can be very dull. I just bring out the fun part of what people do that we don't realize."

Bellamy starting looking for the "fun part" of life when his economics and marketing classes at Rutgers University became a bit dull. Doing stand-up in local clubs added some spice.

"The whole reason I got into it was because my friends were always telling me I was funny," he says.

His first stand-up stint was in a college sorority "male beauty pageant," which paved the way for others.

"I figured when I graduated I was going to work on Wall Street," he recalls. "That was the picture I had. A sweet job at a good firm and work my way up."

But as he "got addicted" to comedy he entered every competition that came his way and performed at any club that would put him on the bill.

An appearance on the first "Russell Simmons' Def Comedy Jam" in 1992 was his biggest break, followed by a spot on the "15th Annual HBO Young Comedians Show." Then came a role in the rap-oriented movie "Who's the Man?," where he was spotted by an MTV exec.

Bellamy makes his MTV audition sound easy: "It was like, 'He can read the teleprompter! We love him!' "

He acknowledges that his much-repeated MTV interview in June with Janet Jackson and her dancers, who writhed around him suggestively, got a lot of attention.

"It just happened," he says of the interview. "The chemistry was just right."

Bellamy's hoping that the chemistry will be right with his new "MTV Jams Live," which bows this month. He's found that being front and center isn't too hard to take.

"MTV Jams" airs daily from 10 a.m. to noon and Sundays from 2 to 3 p.m. on MTV.

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