A sex symbol? No, Dr. Quinn's Sully says it's all so silly.

He's just your average, joe.

Sunset in Los Angeles . The hills are alive with the sound of groaning.

Joe Lando is finding that being a sex symbol is a dirty job. He paces the CBS-TV Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman set in his leather pants, moccasins and-well that's pretty much it. A production assistant approaches him. He moans out loud knowing what's coming next.

The woman-dubbed a dirt wrangler-smears a greasy rag across his face and chest. Lando just makes a face. "I just feel so dirty," he says, his long mane of hair blowing in the breeze.

Lando's character, the emotionally wounded prairie babe Byron Sully, is preparing to save his little Col­orado town from some rotten army guys. "My job is never done. Tomorrow I ward off an Indian war," Lando quips.

Oh, he also has to romance Dr. Quinn. "Our relationship is really heating up," he says. "Dr. Quinn and Sully's chaste kisses are starting to get a little deeper. Who knows what will happen next?"

Lando knows this much: You have to have a sense of humor to be the big hunk on the prairie. People Magazine voted him one of the Sexiest Men Alive, thanks to all that running around in buckskin. "It's kind of embarrassing. Sexiest guy alive? I think it's sort of hilarious he laughs.

"If I'm not on the set, I'm in the woods camping out. I'm a big hiker and mountain biker. Being dirty and sweaty isn't too sexy."

But his long hair is. "I get letters from women telling me that they've asked their husbands to grow their hair long. I just say, 'Guys, don't do it!' I wish I could cut the hair. It's so hot. When I get out of the shower in the morning, I throw my hair up in a baseball cap and go to work."

The baseball cap is the key to Lando's sanity. Ever since he became a sex symbol, he's mobbed everywhere he goes. His secret? "If I throw the hair up under a hat, people don't even look at me twice."

That's not exactly true. After all, Lando is so popular that CBS tapped him to star in Guiding Light last year for a reported $30,000 a week. "Yeah," says Lando. "I've come a long way from flipping pizzas."

Rewind a little further. Lando was born and raised in Long Grove (outside Chicago), where his father owned a fish-tackle manufacturing business. Strange­ly, he wasn't the high school babe. "I never even went to school dances," he says. "I had a girlfriend, but I would rather hang out with my buddies." (His girl­friend was actress Allison LaPlaca, who starred in the CBS-TV series Tom.)

"1 Didn't Even Go to My Senior Prom" Since LaPlaca graduated before Lando and went away to college, he spent his senior year alone. "I didn't even go to my senior prom. No date!"

After high school, Lando decided to go west because "I didn't want to take over my Dad's fish tackle business." He moved out to Los Angeles and "spent eight years just banging around." He did catering for motion pictures like Silkwood. That led to a job flipping pizzas in an Italian restaurant. One night a pal of director Lawrence Kasdan waltzed in and soon "I was hired to teach pizza spinning to Kevin Kline in I Love You to Death," says Lando of his big break four years ago. After taking on a small acting role in the movie, he got hired to play private eye Jake Harrison on One Life to Live for two years.

In 1992, he got the Rx for Dr. Quinn. Little did Lando know how well he'd get along with costar Jane Seymour. "We dated for a while. Jane is a beautiful lady," he says. For her part, Seymour sighs, "Joe is definitely one of the most gorgeous men on the planet. Now, we're just good friends. I'm married now, you know!"

Joe's perfect mate, he says, "would like the outdoors and just hanging out. We'd rent old movies, maybe get some chocolate ice cream,

"I'm really focusing on my career now," he says, shaking off questions about marriage and kids. He does say that any girlfriend of his would have to be a Chicago Cubs fan. "I love sitting way up in the stands. No one notices me."

Who could miss him today? Lando's handsome face is now totally caked in dirt. "My high school buddies would think this is hilarious. I get paid for looking filthy," he says as the dirt wrangler smears another dirty rag across his kisser.

Lando sighs, ° This is life as a sex symbol."