Welcome to the Meat Market or Cosmo‘s 50 Hottest Bachelors Party

A blushing Brian Watkins poses with Kate White and Taylor Strecker after they crowned him Hottest Bachelor of 2007

“Are you ready,” asked Taylor Strecker, Cosmo Radio’s morning show host (Cosmo radio? Come again?) “for the best buffet you’ve ever eaten?”

The room full of eager girls in short dresses and high heels hooted and hollered in agreement, ready for the forthcoming display of “man-deliciousness.” Strecker introduced the 50 heartthrobs, Cosmo‘s hottest bachelors of 2007, to a cacauphonous chorus of “Yeah baby’s” “Ow Ow’s” and, of course, “Take it OFF!!!” at Marquee last night.

You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that out of a state as large as Texas, the chosen bachelor and I actually went to high school together! Carl Besetzny is still a southern gentleman, and he came right over to me to catch up on mutual friends and reminisce about our Golden Eagle alma mater. For the record, he’s much cuter than he was in high school, and his picture in the mag doesn’t due his boyish good looks justice. He said he was having a great time (his first trip to New York!), and giggled when he talked about the girls being all over him. GMA producer/correspondent Andrea Canning sent someone over because she wanted to meet him, and she shyly gave him her business card. Aren’t reporters supposed to be brave?

Each guy had his moment in the limelight, and then, 23-year old Brian Watkins, a.k.a. Mr. Ohio, received the night’s biggest honor: after some 20,000 readers’ votes and then selection by Cosmo editors, he was crowned Hottest Bachelor of 2007. Yummy. Cosmo EIC Kate White presented the blushing bachelor with a big fat $10,000 check — and that ought to teach her not to devote only a quarter of a page to the hottest hunk next year! (Some bachelors got a full page in the mag; Watkins had to share with New Mexico, Illinois and Utah)

Watkins, who is a graduate student studying biotechnology and business administration (he’s hot and smart? No way!), told me he was taking the money to Vegas. “I joked with my friends that if I won I’d take them all to Vegas, but I didn’t think it was going to happen!” He’d like to thank his sister for nominating him. Oddly, almost every bachelor I spoke to said his sister nominated him. Apparently there’s not a lot of sibling rivalry in middle America.

The black t-shirts were deceiving. Mr. New York, Patrick Clark, is really from Spring Lake, New Jersey. He’s a 29-yr-old stock trader, and the exposure has been great for him. “Some TV guy found me through this and called me to ask if I’d come out to California for a casting call.” What show? You guessed it: The Bachelor. He’s undecided: he’s not sure his mom would love the idea.

Mr. Utah, Jack Stewart (of Real Salt Lake, all you soccer fans) is actually from L.A., and he certainly plays the part of a Cali-grown athlete. He asked my name, first and last, and then said, “Tracy Stewart has a nice ring to it.” I can hear the bells…

In exchange for their hotness, you’d think the guys would get a lot of perks. Well, they got exposure, and television appearances, and the admiration of screaming ladies. But Cosmo didn’t go overboard: each guy only received a $450 stipend to cover air-fare and lodging. Um, have the Cosmo editors never flown before? Or stayed in a hotel? Mr. Hawaii Brent Ching said he was actually losing money — he’s a pediatric dentist in Hawaii and he was leaving clients and cash behind.

There was no shortage of game in the house. Mr. South Dakota Ryan Beyer tried (unsuccessfully) to convince me that he had been the brain behind R. Kelly’s “Ignition Remix,” which was playing as we chatted. “I wrote that song,” he said. “You can’t make this stuff up.” Right. Then he turned to the girl behind him and said, “Has anyone ever told you that you look like Regina Spektor?” She said no, looking a bit nonplussed. “Do you sing like her too?” Apparently, being deemed one of Cosmo‘s 50 hottest gave these guys some serious confidence in the lame line department.

Mr. Maryland, Wesley Williams or, as I deemed him, the black Corey Hart, tried to explain the necessity to be prepared… for the lights to come on? He wore his sunglasses all night, though he ditched his shirt early on when a slew of giggling girls requested it.

Over heard in the bathroom toward the end of the soiree:

Short dress #1: “I can’t believe I’m hitting on guys this much younger than me.”
Short dress #2: “I know, I feel like a cougar!”
#1: “Whatever, they’re cute.”
#2: “Let’s go find Minnesota!”

And to all in attendance, these guys will forever be known by state. Thanks, Cosmo!

Where there are washboard abs, there are sure to be bare legs and impossibly high heels

The hunky boys-next-door from Indiana, Mississippi, Connecticut, Ohio, Missouri, and Minnesota. That’ll teach you not to forget those states!

—Tracy Bratten