Spotlight

The Cat's Meow: Give the Dolls Their Due

The most recent incarnation of the Pussycat Dolls: from left, Jessica Sutta, Melody Thornton, Ashley Roberts, Nicole Scherzinger, Carmit Bachar and Kimberly Wyatt.
The most recent incarnation of the Pussycat Dolls: from left, Jessica Sutta, Melody Thornton, Ashley Roberts, Nicole Scherzinger, Carmit Bachar and Kimberly Wyatt. (By James White)
By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 21, 2006

The subtext of the Pussycat Dolls' mega-single "Don't Cha" is clearly "don't cha wish your girlfriend was hot like them ."

Which makes sense for a group founded on the basis of how hot its six members were -- putting the sex back into sextet, as it were.

In the much-exposed video for "Don't Cha," the multiculti crew vamps in barely there miniskirts and bare midriffs, shaking their collective booties and strutting their assets with delicious abandon.

Which makes even more sense when you realize the Pussycat Dolls started as a neo-burlesque troupe.

Now, of course, they do sing, though that responsibility falls mostly to Nicole Scherzinger, the 27-year-old Hawaiian-Russian-Filipino beauty who soulfully handles lead vocals and who has become the group's breakout star. She's the one who sings, "Don't cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me/Don't cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me/Don't cha wish your girlfriend was raw like me/Don't cha wish your girlfriend was fun like me."

(For the record, the answer, in men's circles at least, are yes, yes, yes and sure.)

Scherzinger first saw the original Pussycat Dolls four years ago on David Letterman's late-night show, where they mostly gyrated while Carmen Electra sang "Big Spender." (The troupe was then best known for its bump-and-grind revival and celebrity guests.)

"I remember thinking, 'Well, what is this ? Who are these girls?' " Scherzinger says. "They were doing 'Big Spender' [from the musical 'Sweet Charity'], and it had a cabaret vibe. It caught my eye because I'd played Velma Kelly in 'Chicago' in college. I thought it was something different: These girls are hot, it's a little raw, it's theatrical.

"And I thought, ' I can do that.' When you grow up being a performer and a singer, you watch people and say, 'I can do that,' right? But I had no idea that I'd audition and that one day I'd be fronting the group."

Which is what she'll be doing when the group opens for the Black Eyed Peas on Saturday at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

The Pussycat Dolls date to 1993 when choreographer Robin Antin and her housemate, actress Christina Applegate, invited some girlfriends who had danced in music videos and on concert tours to their garage-converted-to-a-dance-studio. The idea was to experiment with Antin's notion of classic Las Vegas-style burlesque given a more contemporary spin. The Dolls' saucy, soft-core revue debuted in 1995, and for six years they were the Thursday night opening act at Johnny Depp's Los Angeles club, the Viper Room. The delighted Depp reportedly said, " This is why I opened a club" as he put the strip back on Sunset Strip.

The Dolls' risque rep began to get bigger in 2000, when No Doubt's Gwen Stefani asked to sit in -- dancing and singing -- on "Big Spender" (the old Dolls' go-to anthem). The troupe moved a few blocks over to the larger Roxy, and pretty soon the list of celebrity Dolls included Electra, Christina Aguilera, Brittany Murphy, Charlize Theron, Nikka Costa, Pamela Anderson, Paris Hilton and Scarlett Johansson, all unpaid and aboard in their fishnet stockings, bustiers and boas simply for the giggle.


CONTINUED     1           >

© 2006 The Washington Post Company