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Damien Fahey: MTV's Hipster Host

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AGE: 23

HOMETOWN: Long Meadow, Mass.

LATEST GIG: Hosting Total Request Live

•Why you know him:

Manning Total Request Live‘s Times Square studio, Fahey doesn’t just sit on a couch and interview celebs like Beyoncé Also in his repertoire: a tug-of-war in an oatmeal-filled kiddy pool. “The big thing is being funny,” he says. “I’m just trying to earn some applause. I’m very needy.”

•In the beginning:

An only child, Fahey was raised by his bohemian parents, Richard, 49, and Paula, 51, both art teachers. “I was a little rock and roll baby,” he says. When he was a toddler, Fahey says, “my dad took me to this playground dressed like a punk rocker—spiked orange hair, ripped jeans—and he dressed me the same way, gave me a Mohawk.” Dad also taught him to want his MTV: “I was totally fixated on MTV,” says Richard, “and Damien spent a lot of time watching it as well.”

•Big break:

At 14, he landed an on-air gig at a local adult-contemporary radio station. While spinning Michael Bolton records, “every now and again my voice would crack,” he says. As a student at Boston’s Northeastern University, Fahey worked as a deejay for a top Boston station, where he was discovered by MTV scouts. Not surprisingly, Dad approved when he dropped out of college and moved to New York.

•On the job:

Meeting original TRL host Carson Daly on his first day at MTV in 2001 “freaked me out,” he says. Recalls MTV exec Tom DiSano: “Damien said he had grown up watching TRL, which made Carson and I feel old.” Now that he’s a pro at quizzing heroes like Dave Matthews, Fahey is smoother at making a first impression. When he chatted up Brad Pitt, his first question was: “How’s my hair?”

•Where he’s headed:

One day he’d like to have his own late-night show. For now, Fahey, who’s single, can only dream of world domination from his Manhattan studio apartment, furnished with little more than a huge TV: “I just sit there with this giant remote and control the weather in Uganda.”