Best known for spending four years sans shirt on Baywatch, David Chokachi unsurprisingly has a pin-up stigma to contend with. But surely the stud — who was numbered among People's 50 Most Beautiful People in 1997 — doesn't resent the attention his good looks have garnered him?

"It's all good, but it's like a double-edged sword," Chokachi tells TV Guide Online. "Because automatically, you walk into the room and that's all they can see. With so many people, you have to hit them over the head to convince them you can do other things." Hence, his resolve to stay away from strictly boy toy roles. "You have to be aware and try to avoid things that'll suck you back into that whole area," he says. "I keep an eye on it."

All that said, Chokachi hasn't missed the irony of his playing "an ex-pro surfer" on TNT's TV movie-turned-new series, Witchblade (debuting tonight at 9 pm/ET). "This show is so much edgier [than Baywatch] and the writing is really good," the actor enthuses. That's why he's hoping viewer perceptions of him will "start steering away from the visual."

But fear not, couch potatoes, eyecandy still abounds on the supernatural cop show, which finds Chokachi playing the dreamy familiar to Yancy Butler's witchy heroine. And when he considers Lyle Waggoner's supporting role opposite Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman or Michael Weatherly's plum part on real-life fianc&#233e Jessica Alba's Dark Angel, he says it's not so bad playing second banana to a superchick. "She does get to do a lot of the cool [expletive] that I've always loved doing," he concedes, "but it's good to have a strong female lead. It's a good twist that works well in this day and age. And Yancy's the Mac Daddy. She fills those shoes very well."