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Taking Teens Way Beyond Pep Rallies

March 01, 2000|BOOTH MOORE

After suffering one too many lame cheerleading and pep-rally episodes of "Dawson's Creek," a 14-year-old Los Angeles girl has taken matters into her own hands.

Ashley Power launched Goosehead.com (http://www.goosehead.com) this week, a site that offers an advice column, live video chats, news, movie reviews and a homemade comedy called "Whatever" that tackles teen issues such as driving drunk, a student-teacher romance and breaking curfew. Logo merchandise is for sale, naturally, and includes sweatshirts and snowboards.

Power writes and films the show with her stepfather, Mark Schilder, a commercial producer who helped her launch the site. She stars in "Whatever," and the characters are based on her friends.

"We use language that is not appropriate for TV, we talk about sex and pregnancy. . . . I want to watch things I can relate to," she said.

Teen chat on the site is just as frank. Messages posted address breast implants, masturbation and girls who use guys for their cars.

"Most teen sites are run by adults and everything is really sugarcoated," said Power, who, like so many L.A. teens, looks older than she really is and has her own publicist. "To reach out to teens, you have to know the language and what we look for. That's what sets Goosehead apart from other sites."

She says she came up with the idea for Goosehead last year, while on a break from school to audition for an MTV pilot. (She didn't get the part.)

After surfing the Internet for teen sites and finding none that appealed to her, she posted her own Web page, writing about the real-life adventures of her friends. E-mails about her page came in from as far away as Japan, and Power realized she had discovered a void in the teen community. (As a safety measure, she doesn't want to disclose the name of her school.)

"I've gotten a lot of props, which is a teen word for credit, for what I did," she said. (So maybe that's not strictly true . . . but what teenagers don't think they've invented the slang they use?)

There is a "Clueless" aspect to Goosehead's "Whatever." Like Alicia Silverstone's spoiled-but-sincere Cher, Power and her friends may take life seriously, but they're not grappling with extreme poverty, gang life or jail.

If nothing else, she deserves "props" for attempting to carve out a piece of the teen-market pie.

*

Onto other online characters . . . after 40 years of silence, Mr. Clean spoke for the first time last week at http://www.mrclean.com.

Three weeks ago, Procter & Gamble, the Cincinnati-based parent of the household hero, set up the Web site to solicit suggestions for Mr. Clean's first words. Some rejects: "Bald is beautiful," "You should see Mrs. Clean" and "The name is Clean . . . Mr. Clean."

The winner?

"One small click for you, one giant leap for cleaning kind."

Now that the big guy with the earring has started chatting, albeit somewhat incoherently, he's not stopping. Consumers who log on to the site can ask the hunk questions about their cleaning dilemmas.

Maybe his first words should have been, "Talk dirty to me!"

*

The other day at the bookstore, I noticed that IDG Books' manuals for dummies now come in an abbreviated, pocket-size format.

Titles for the tiny tomes include: "Fishing for Dummies," "Gardening for Dummies," "Golfing for Dummies" and "Dating for Dummies."

Incredible. Books for dummies have been dumbed down.

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