To be a Formerly, you have to have been something in the first place. That’s one problem with VH1’s new reality show, Confessions of a Teen Idol, which sticks various men my age-ish who were once on not-so-good TV shows or movies in therapy together. We get to witness them sifting through the detritus of their lives, facing the fact that being tortured and humiliated by executive producers Scott Baio and Jason Hervey (the dickhead older brother on The Wonder Years) might be as close as they come to getting a second chance at fame.

It just so happens that when several of these guys were supposedly famous I was working at YM, a now defunct teen magazine, so I know from teen idols. I remember that David Chokachi (Former Baywatch bo-hunk, pictured with moi, above, c. 1996), was on our cover. We may have mentioned Jamie Walters (the guy who relationship-abused his girlfriend Donna on the purist’s Beverly Hills, 90210), and Eric Nies, who was on the first Real World. Christopher Atkins, of course, was memorably shirtless and permed in the Blue Lagoon, looking about as feminine as a guy could while still being identifiable male. That movie came out when I was 12 or 13, so he was, of course, my ideal, entirely unthreatening dream guy.

But really, Adrien Zmed from TJ Hooker? I’m sorry, but can you picture legions of screaming teens chasing him through a mall? And Billy Hufsey from Fame–I challenge you to pick him out of a lineup–or that other dude who who played the Hoff’s son Hobie before he was even a teen? I’m sure they’re lovely people, and have their own Formerlies that are very meaningful to them, but Formerly Teen Idols? Nuh-uh.

Still, there is much to learn from a passel of Formerlies like this, as contrived as their situation may be. On the first and so far only episode of Confessions,  Baio and Hervey punked the fellas by having them walk the red carpet to sounds of gushing female adulation. They then were propped up on a stage behind a curtain to listen to the crowd go wild. The curtain was then raised to reveal an empty theater, to hammer home the point that that no one–NO ONE–still thinks they’re hot. In case that wasn’t clear to them by the fact that they were on a reality show trying to be famous again!

Several of fellas have apparently already had their egos so utterly annihilated in the last decade or two that they seem to have accepted their Formerly. These guys, I predict, will do best on the show and in life, since they will see any droplet good fortune as a gift. Others, like David Chokachi (did I mention that is I, with him, above? That makes me Formerly an Almost-Star Fucker) stormed out like a diva he was almost entitled to be. “This is not what I signed up for,” he fumed.

Yeah, well, David (I can call you David, right? We were close for 11 seconds once, as evidenced by the photo, above; BTW, that’s me, next to David Chokachi) none of us signed up to be a Formerly. There should be some kind of consent form you have to sign when you’re in the heyday of your Formerly, warning you that you won’t get to be that person forever. That way, you can enjoy it while you can and won’t get so invested in your Formerly that you don’t know how to be happy as anything else.

David, you would be so much hotter if you were that Former Teen Idol who had a sense of humor about how at one time, hot girls thought he was hot for prancing around on the beach in red trunks next to Pamela Anderson, which was bizarrely not hot at all in the first place.

A little ability to laugh at oneself. Now that’s hot.