May 11, 1998 12:00 PM

Growing up, Enrique Iglesias scarcely noticed the legions of love-struck fans who screamed with delight at the sight of his musical heartthrob father, Julio. “It was just normal,” he says. Thank goodness he got used to it. Ever since the youngest child of Julio and Madrid socialite Isabe Preysler (who divorced in 1979) released his first album of romantic ballads in 1995, he has inspired plenty of swoons of his own. Says Tony Campos, an executive with Miami’s WAMR, a leading Spanish-language music station: “He has the same appeal his father has, but to a younger audience. He stands onstage, and the girls go crazy.”

Initially, Latin music critics were less enamored. Offended by his stub-bled chin and his habit of performing in jeans and a T-shirt, some wondered in print if he even showered. “I told them I did—every Sunday,” Iglesias, who turns 23 this month, says with a laugh. But with sales of his first two albums topping 10 million worldwide (not to mention a Grammy), the 6’2″ Madrid-born singer can look any way he pleases. “Except when I’m on TV,” he says, “I don’t care.”

That attitude extends to diet (Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets) and sports. “He’s a risk taker,” says his manager Fernan Martinez, describing a recent water-skiing accident in which Enrique took a wide turn and slammed into a mangrove tree. “I had, like, 40 stitches behind my left ear,” recalls Iglesias. “I was lucky.”

He’s also not worried about time taking its toll. “I think men get better-looking as they get older,” says the single Iglesias, who lives in Miami. “The maturity makes you more of a man.”

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