May 05, 1997 12:00 PM

ASHLEY MACISAAC, 22, rock and roll violinist

Not long ago, Ashley Macisaac was a straitlaced, step-dancing Celtic fiddler. Now, the native Nova Scotian has morphed into a bad-boy rock star with a debut album—hi how are you today?—that has sold 500,000 copies worldwide.

Credits: Guest-featured on albums by David Byrne, Paul Simon and Edie Brickell. Now on tour with the Chieftains (next stop: Tokyo).

Musical style: Blends traditional Scottish Highland jigs and reels with rock, hip hop and disco.

Fashion plate: Teams tartan kilts with combat boots, motorcycle leathers and, occasionally, a feather boa (a gift from drag queen RuPaul).

Overexposure: Kicked up his kilt in a step-dancing move on-Late Night with Conan O’Brien, revealing more than his talent. “I never wear underwear with my kilt,” he says, but “they blurred it so you can’t see anything.”

Proudest moment: Dancing for the pope during a 1984 papal visit to Nova Scotia. (He spared the pontiff the fiddle-stomping, bow-breaking antics of recent performances.)

Vitals: Born on Cape Breton Island, where he still lives with his family. Learned to step-dance at 5 and fiddle at 8. Collects classic cars, including a ’69 Oldsmobile Delta 88.

Fan: “He gives the cyber generation a taste of deep roots,” says Byrne. “His shows are as high-energy as any.”

First break: Avant-garde composer Philip Glass recruited MacIsaac to perform his original score for the 1992 Off-Broadway production of Woyzeck. Inspired by Manhattan’s club music scene, “I started doing more freaky things,” he says.

Muse: “What I bring into the music is the TV culture of America,” says the self-confessed tube nut. Favorite shows: Seinfeld, Columbo and The Andy Griffith Show.

Secret vice: The Home Shopping Network. “I ordered the Ivana Trump Mallorca pearls with the fireball clasp [for my sister],” MacIsaac confesses. “It’s gorgeous.”

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