May 11, 1998 12:00 PM

Attention, werewolves: If you’re on the prowl some foggy night in L.A. and you get a whiff of vanilla, head for the hills. “Vanilla is my absolute favorite scent,” says the 21-year-old star of the WB’s cult hit-Buffy the Vampire Slayer. “I have vanilla lip balm, vanilla hand lotion, vanilla candles.” Sarah Michelle Gellar is also the vanilla-flavored icon of the mall-cruising generation. On Buffy, a clever meld of Clueless and The X-Files, the petite (5’3″) blonde plays a suburban teen coping with high school angst whose extracurricular activity just happens to be driving wooden stakes through the hearts of the undead. Twentysomething viewers gather across the country to play the Buffy drinking game: Every time she shows a bra strap, they swig their brew and have another slug each time she wipes out a vampire. It’s not all beer and Victoria’s Secret, though. Gellar, who graduated from an Emmy-winning turn as Erica Kane’s evil daughter on All My Children in ’96, has heightened her fright factor—and her asking price—in the recent big-screen horrorfests I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream 2. She packs ’em in, says her Last Summer costar Jennifer Love Hewitt, because “Sarah is all woman when she wants to be, but she can be all little girl, too.”

The New York City native, who started in the biz doing Burger King ads at age 4, is quite grown-up about her beauty regimen. “I went through this crazy phase when I was younger,” says Gellar, who has five holes in each earlobe and once wore a navel ring. “I would dye my hair a different color every week. I wanted to be a really goth [gothic] teenager.” These days, she says, “I beat the guys to the trailer at the end of the day to wash off the makeup.” To stay in stake-driving shape, the single Gellar (she’s mum about men) has again taken up a childhood activity, the martial art of tae kwon do. And, though she’s just a few moves shy of a brown belt, she only kicks butt on the show. “It’s about meditation,” she says. “It’s an art form.”

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