Call him Joey, Joe, even Joseph. Anything is fine with him—especially since landing a spot on Dancing with the Stars. “This has been such a positive experience,” says Lawrence, 30, of competing on the reality hit. “My wife and I were such fans of the show. We loved watching Drew Lachey.” Best known as dopey hunk Joey Russo on the ’80s sitcom Blossom, the showbiz vet sat down to chat with PEOPLE’s Monica Rizzo.
HIS NEW LOOK
“People either love it or hate it,” he says of his Mr. Cleanish do. “But I like it, so who cares?” Not that he had much of a choice: Lawrence broke out the razor to play a cop in the 2006 horror movie Rest Stop, and about a month later, producers on Dancing embraced the look.
HIS OFF-CAMERA PARTNER
In a season of Dancing hookups (way to go, Willa Ford!), Lawrence is happily ensconced in his own non-ballroom-related bliss. At Disney World in 1993, Lawrence invited Chandie Yawn on an ice cream date. “Being the cheesy romantic that I was, I said, ‘Hey look, there’s the Disney wedding chapel! Maybe we’ll get married there one day,'” he recalls. “Long story short, we did !” But first Lawrence “played the field” and wed Michelle Vella in 2002. When he got divorced three years later and reunited with Yawn, he recalls, “we hugged for about five hours.”
THE DADDY GIG
Count Lawrence’s 6-month-old daughter Charli among those who dig him bald. “She sits in bed with me for 45 minutes in the morning and rubs my head,” he says, adding that he and Yawn delight in watching the stages of childhood. Their daughter “just started on sweet potatoes,” he brags.
THE CLOONEY TRACK
Lawrence, who lives in L.A., earned child-star cred on the 1980s series Gimme a Break and heartthrob status on Blossom—even making catchphrase history with his nasal “Whoa!” Still, “I haven’t reached where I want to go in my career,” he says. “George Clooney did pilot after pilot before he finally got ER. Now he’s got the career he’s always wanted. I want to emulate that.”
“I wake up and the balls of my feet are on fire,” says Lawrence. Even after daily eight-hour rehearsals, his partner Edyta Sliwinska says his timing was still off. “He’s always 15 minutes late,” she sighs. “I think it’s a Hollywood thing.”
For exclusive video of Joey practicing his dance moves, go to PEOPLE.COM/JOEYVIDEO