Some hot pursuits keep Sisqo busy


After the Grammy nominations were announced last month, Baltimore-native Sisqo, who earned four of the coveted bids, said simply "If I win, I'll be happy, but if I lose, I won't be crushed." Of course not, he's got 5 million other things to fall back on.

Charm City's most recent golden - scratch that, platinum (in both hair color and album sales) - child is what you might call a renaissance man for the new millennium. The R&B; singer makes his feature-film debut March 9 with the opening of "Get Over It" (in which Sisqo plays a high-school basketball player). He's filming his second movie, "Winterdance" with Cuba Gooding Jr., right now, while Big Ticket Television, a division of Paramount, shops a Sisqo sitcom (described as "urban-oriented along the lines of 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' ") to the networks.

He's got his own doll, record label imprint and clothing line (the Dragon Collection by Sisqo, due in stores by this fall). He's written songs for other artists (Mya's "All About Me" and "Movin' On"), produced a female R&B; band (LovHer) and has his second solo album ("Return of the Dragon") coming out in the spring.

Sisqo has appeared on "Politically Incorrect" and the "Tonight Show" and in commercials hocking Pepsi and McDonald's. He had his own dance show on MTV ("Sisqo's Shakedown") and just did a stint on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" - sporting his newest 'do: blond-streaked cornrows.

On the Rock-Star edition of "Millionaire," Sisqo demonstrated an unlikely rapport with Reg himself (the two had met when Sisqo appeared on "Live with Regis" in November). But perhaps more unlikely than the camaraderie was that for once, Sisqo didn't have what it takes to move ahead. He didn't answer the preliminary questions fast enough to make it to the player's chair opposite Philbin and had to sit on the sidelines with the other, uhm, losers.

From his beginnings, Sisqo has been in the spotlight. Whether it was by singing in his church choir, giving impromptu performances as an employee at the Inner Harbor's Fudgery or as front-man for Dru Hill, his star has been almost as bright as his Day-Glo hair. All that attention makes him one hard man to get a hold of, though. We couldn't get him or his publicist to return our calls.

So, after a little digging, a lot of reading and some hair pulling, we've come up with this credit list of the flamboyant artist formerly known as Mark, who might not always be keeping it as real as he says he is:

Real name: Mark Althavan Andrews

Nickname: Sisqo was christened the "Cisco Kid" (hence "Sisqo") growing up because his curly hair gives him a Latin appearance, and the neighborhood kids thought Cisco sounded Puerto Rican.

Age: Born Nov. 9, 1975, in Baltimore (He's a Scorpio, gals), making him 25. That's iffy, though. Teen People reports him as 22 and 24 in articles both running last year, and most other publications put his birth year at 1977 or 1978. Either a lot of reporters are having trouble with their math, or Sisqo isn't real forthcoming with his age. Public records say 1975, so that's what we're sticking with.

Parents: Alonzo (an electrician) and Carolyn (a Social Security administrator) Andrews

Height: 5 feet, 4 1/2 inches (make that a short Scorpio)

Residences: He has a house in Randallstown and shuttles between there and a Los Angeles apartment.

Hair: He told Ebony magazine in August it takes him 45 minutes to do it every morning. He told Vibe he dyed it to smooth out his image and counter the harsh faces he makes when he sings.

Rumor mill: Sisqo's gay. That's the accusation popping up on the Internet from some of his fans and haters alike. But he told Ebony magazine that he's "addicted to the ladies," adding that "because of the way I dress and because I do my own hair, people think I must be gay. I don't mind because I have gay fans. I just keep it general."

Idol: Will Smith. Dru Hill collaborated with Smith on his "Wild Wild West" song, but only Sisqo appeared on stage with Smith during the song's performance at the 1999 Grammys. He told Entertainment Weekly: "I love Will, man. Every chance I get, I thank him. 'Wild Wild West' changed my life."

Children: Sisqo fathered a daughter in 1995, Shaione, with his former girlfriend, Tera Thomas. Shaione appears in the opening of the "Thong Song" video, definitely not in a thong.

Style: Brightly colored leather suits, dragon accessories and tattoos galore.

Dance moves: Sisqo says he learned on the streets and from watching Michael Jackson, who was a big influence.

Childhood: Sisqo is fond of saying he's a child of the ghetto, but his only ghetto action was by way of visiting it. Sisqo's parents, who still live in the area, raised him in a middle-class East Baltimore neighborhood. He told TV Guide, though, that he spent summers at his grandmother's West Baltimore house, which he identified as the house with a red roof seen on HBO's "The Corner," a drama about poverty and the drug trade that was based on the book by David Simon and Edward Burns.

Crime: "I got locked up" he told Teen People, along with many other magazines, referring to time in jail spent thinking about thug life and how it was not for him. He got a lot of thinking done in a short amount of time, then, because the only time he's spent in jail was following arrests for three misdemeanors: twice for fighting at parties and once for taking a beeper to school. Not exactly a career criminal.

Start: Sisqo's first singing performances were in the gospel choir at his church. He was about 4.

Serious start: It came in his early teens when he met schoolmates and soon-to-become Dru-Hill band-mates, James Green (Woody), Tamir Ruffin (Nokio) and Larry Anthony (Jazz).

Real serious start: The foursome, who worked and honed their singing skills at the Fudgery for a time, was signed to Island Records as Dru Hill in 1995.

Instruments: In Dru Hill, Sisqo played both the keyboard and the bass.

Dru Hill: The band released two highly successful albums, "Dru Hill" and "Enter the Dru," and then called it quits, detailing a plan for the "Dru World Order."

Dru World Order: "We thought with another Dru album, even though it would be good for your fans," Sisqo explains, "you're not progressing. You're not making history. So, we tried to think of what we could do to get more people interested in the group." Dismantling it was what they came up with. Each member is supposed to put out a solo album, and then they'll all get back together for another Dru Hill record.

Solo album: Sisqo recorded "Unleash the Dragon," his first solo venture, in less than three weeks and with his own money. It was released in November 1999.

Grammy nominations: Sisqo is up for Best Male R&B; Vocal Performance ("Thong Song"), Best R&B; Song ("Thong Song"), Best R&B; Album ("Unleash the Dragon") and Best New Artist.

Tour extremes: Sisqo has traveled with both the chipper boy band 'N Sync and the melodramatic DMX.

"Thong Song": Dubbed the official anthem of MTV's Spring Break 2000, the ode to women's underwear ("that thong, tha-thong, thong, thong") vaulted Sisqo to the top of pop and R&B; charts and featured a video full of booty babes. He came up with the song after a friend told about his date with a girl wearing a thong.

Greatest fear: One-hit wonderdom. Determined to prove that the "Thong Song" isn't all he'll be known for, Sisqo told Rolling Stone, "I want to show that I'm not a gimmick. I'm a very accomplished musician." The proof is expected to be in his next release, "Return of the Dragon." But just in case he's not lauded as a lasting musical great, he can always see what happens with his acting, writing and producing.

Greatest goal: To be big, ba-big, big, big. He's well on his way. His personality already overshadows his body by at least three feet.

In an article in yesterday's Today section about the singer Sisqo, Tera Thomas was incorrectly identified as the mother of Sisqo's 6-year-old daughter. Sisqo and Thomas are acquainted, but she is not the mother of his child. The Sun regrets the error.
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