If you picked up a copy of Tiger Beat magazine in the mid to late '80s, then you are no doubt familiar with the name Kirk Cameron.
Perhaps best known as Mike Seaver on the television show "Growing Pains" (1985-92), these days Cameron is attracting a different kind of audience, and he's hoping you'll be a part of it when he visits Naples on Sept. 16.
In a recent phone interview, we discussed "Growing Pains," real growing pains, his conversion from atheist to born-again Christian, escaping the perils of childhood stardom, his comments about gays that thrust him back into the spotlight in March, and, yes, his Love Worth Fighting For event.
Cameron is all about family. He and wife, actor Chelsea Noble, who co-starred with him on "Growing Pains" and the short-lived WB series "Kirk," have six children, four of whom they adopted.
"Having a big family is challenging, but when I think I'm over my head, I look to the Duggars," says Cameron. For the uninformed, he's referring to the Duggars of TLC's "19 Kids and Counting." Cameron recently paid a visit to the show.
"Some people are content being single, love being alone," he says. "But I love to hear the kids' laughter. I'll take the fighting in order to hear the laughter."
Cameron takes his role as parent very seriously. He says raising a big family is an opportunity to make a direct impact on the next generation, and change the world. As for the Duggars, Cameron is not worried they will succumb to the pitfalls that is reality TV.
"They're great people. Down to earth. It seems the show has been a positive force. They don't let people in the bedroom. They have set up boundaries. They're not about stirring up controversy for ratings."
To frame his comments, Cameron is admittedly not an avid TV watcher. But he says he likes the Food Network, citing shows like "Chopped," "Top Chef" and "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives."
Tongue firmly planted in cheek, Cameron says of his time as an atheist that he's as religious now as he was then, "only instead of serving me, I serve God."
Cameron's conversion came around age 18. He says that when he examined what the Bible said, he humbled himself, and perhaps, was literally saved.
When you grow up on TV, it's hard not to lose your way, Cameron says.
"When I look at some of my friends ... River Phoenix, Corey Haim, Andrew Koenig — they're all dead. Drug overdoses, suicides. I'm glad that God took me in a different direction."
In March, after an appearance on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight," Cameron was thrust back into the spotlight for comments he made about homosexuality being sinful, "unnatural" and "ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilizations."
Even as late as last month, the Huffington Post wrote an article in which Cameron took heat for refusing to meet with LGBT teens during one of his tour stops.
Asked if he had any regrets, Cameron spoke eagerly and openly.
"I'm OK with the way things worked out," said Cameron. "That's not to say there's not a better way of saying something. I think Todd Akin would agree with that."
Cameron says it was simply a case of the "liberal press" looking for things to twist and take out of context.
"If Piers Morgan were truly concerned about the homosexual community, concerned with people being hurt, he could have eliminated that section, like he did many other parts of our conversation," Cameron said.
Coming to Naples
At 4 p.m. Sunday (Sept. 16), Cameron and singer/songwriter Warren Barfield, will present the Love Worth Fighting For event sponsored by Feed Your Faith at First Baptist Church in Naples.
"During these Love Worth Fighting For events, we focus on all areas of personal and spiritual relationships and truly seek to help people in all stages of life — from teenagers, and single adults to newly married couples and longtime spouses," said Cameron.
The tour is making 35 stops across the country including events in Texas, New York, Michigan, Virginia, New Jersey and Kansas. Tickets range from $20 to $35 each and are available as reserved seats or general admission for singles, couples and groups of 10 or more.
When asked if he knew the secrets to a long successful relationship, Cameron said that "marriage is meant to get better over time. Your best days should be ahead of you."
One other piece of advice: "Stop trying to change your spouse. Instead, give your spouse a new you."
For more information about Feed Your Faith's "Love Worth Fighting For" tour or to order tickets, visit www.feedyourfaith.com.
Bill Green is a Naples Daily News/naplesnews.com journalist and a professional couch potato. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect with him at facebook.com/billdgreen.