March 17, 1997 12:00 PM

“This is the new face of Hollywood,” radio raunch-jock Howard Stern told 40,000 fans gathered outside New York City’s Madison Square Garden for the Feb. 27 premiere of his film debut, Private Parts. “I’m getting a little sick of Tom Cruise movies.”

A Few Good Men this isn’t. Instead, in a script based on his bestselling 1993 autobiography, Stern, 43, tells of his rise from nerdy kid to King of All Media. He’s somewhat proud of the movie. You could tell by way the star, riding in a Mercedes “Popemobile” with bulletproof bubble, led a motorcade to a stage outside the Garden, where he sang “Great American Nightmare” with heavy metal’s Rob Zombie. Inside, 8,400 fans attended screenings, and a crowd of celebs including Conan O’Brien, Kevin Bacon and drag rocker Marilyn Manson retired to a private party.

Stern wants to reach beyond the 18 million who tune in daily to hear him talk about lesbians, flatulence and his sex life with his wife, Alison, 42. Many say he can. “Even my mother loved it, okay?” model Carol Alt, a bit player in the film, told E! Added rapper L.L. Cool J: “If you’re somebody with an open mind, it’s real funny.” Stern’s appeal? “He tells you what everyone thinks but is afraid to say,” says Jeffrey Taylor, 31, a customer-service rep who waited 10 hours to buy a $10 ticket. Stern has his own take on what makes Parts work: “It’s the story of a loser who is able to succeed.” And not just succeed but stop traffic.

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