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Sex Symbol Status Surprises Isaak

Of the Oakland Press

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Chris Isaak became a sex symbol 17 years ago, thanks to his languid and sensual hit “Wicked Game” and the accompanying black-and-white video by the late Herb Ritts.

Isaak, however, says he’s never quite embraced that image.

“Y’know, it always makes me happy, to be honest, that anybody thinks that I was a ‘sex symbol’ or handsome or anything like that, because I never got any of that impression of me when I grew up,” says Isaak, 52, who hails from Stockton, Calif. “I have two older brothers who are both better looking, and my nose has been broken about seven times in the boxing ring. I never had any particularly inkling that anybody was gonna say, ‘Oh, you’re nice looking ...’

“So it was a nice compliment, but I’m realistic. I don’t take it too seriously, ’cause in real life I’m not noticing anybody turning their head looking at me.”

Isaak hopes to have people listening to him soon, and not just at his shows. He hasn’t released a full set of new music since 2002’s “Always Got Tonight,” though there’s fresh material on 2004’s “Christmas” and 2006’s “The Best of Chris Isaak.” He’s been writing and recording, but he won’t yet hazard a guess as to when we’ll hear something.

“I’m a bad judge of my own stuff, saying what it sounds like, ’cause it all sounds like me to me,” says Isaak, who also has a full resume of acting credits that includes three seasons of “The Chris Isaak Show” that ran on Showtime from 2001-2004.

“The only way I’ve had any kind of inkling that I even have a sound is other people say it. I just put ’em together the way I like ’em and don’t worry about it, really.”

Chris Isaak and James Hunter perform at 8 p.m. Sunday (Aug. 17) at the Meadow Brook Music Festival on the campus of Oakland University, Rochester Hills. Tickets are $37.50 pavilion, $15 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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