The Pussycat Dolls

The Pussycat Dolls

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The Pussycat Dolls began as an all-female burlesque group created by choreographer Robin Antin in 1993. Their first live performance took place at the Viper Room in Los Angeles in 1995. Carmen Electra was one of the lead dancers. The Pussycat Dolls' stage act has always followed the classic tradition of burlesque, a sexual performance that focuses on tease, humor and innuendo instead of raunchy sex and bare flesh.
Guest Pussycat Dolls:
Through the years the Pussycat Dolls have featured guest appearances by a wide range of celebrities. Britney Spears once joined the Pussycat Dolls in a performance for her brother Bryan's birthday, and Pink included the Pussycat Dolls in her video for the song "Trouble." Other "guest" Dolls through the years have included Gwen Stefani, Christina Applegate, Charlize Theron and the "angels" in the movie Charlie's Angels : Full Throttle.
Burlesque On the Pop Chart:
In late 2003 Robin Antin decided to start from scratch and conducted open auditions to create a new troupe of Pussycat Dolls that would ultimately be part of a musical project. Nicole Kea (aka Scherzinger), formerly of the band Eden's Crush, winners of Popstars, an American Idol precursor, became the group's lead vocalist. Music business veteran Jimmy Iovine was brought in as an executive producer alongside Antin and A&M Records president Ron Fair.
In April 2005 the Pussycat Dolls took their next steps forward in the entertainment business. The Pussycat Dolls Lounge at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas was opened as a permanent venue for the Pussycat Dolls stage act. Later in the month the group's first single "Don't Cha" was released to radio and retail. It included a guest performance from rap star Busta Rhymes. In classic Pussycat Dolls style it features the teasing line "Don't cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me? Don't cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me?" The single reached #1 on the pop singles chart in late July.

“Inside every woman is a Pussycat Doll,” says Robin Antin, the creator of the singing-and-dancing ensemble that has risen from underground cool to major label hot. “It’s about female empowerment, about being confident with who you are. It’s about singing and dancing in front of a mirror by yourself and having fun.”
With their debut album set for release by A&M Records in summer 2005 (led by “Don’t Cha,” a duet with Busta Rhymes, written and produced by Cee-Lo), The Pussycat Dolls go beyond being extraordinarily beautiful. With tremendous voices, and after working with today’s top songwriters and producers, The Pussycat Dolls are ready to stamp their mark on music and on attitudes.
“To me, a Pussycat Doll is fearless but also vulnerable,” says lead singer Nicole Scherzinger. “We’re strong but we like to play too. The line in ‘Don’t Cha’--‘don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me’--is meant to be empowering. The Pussycat Dolls are not about just being hot but also about saying something with real feeling.”
From Scherzinger, who earlier scored a Top 10 album and single while in girl group Eden’s Crush, to Jessica Sutta, the one-time captain of the Miami Heat dance troupe; from Carmit Bachar, the “La Vida Loca” girl on Ricky Martin’s world tour, to Ashley Roberts and Kimberly Wyatt, two of the most talented young dancers in Hollywood, and Melody Thornton, a stunning singer chosen from an open audition, these Pussycat Dolls are the new incarnation--more contemporary, more street--of the group whose Sunset Strip performances became the hippest ticket in Hollywood.
The Pussycat Dolls were born in a tiny dance studio in the L.A. garage of actress Christina Applegate, with whom Antin was rooming in the early ‘90s. Antin had appeared in commercials for Coke and 7-Up, and did choreography for music videos for the likes of Smash Mouth, The Offspring and No Doubt. “But I wanted to do something that was my vision,” she says, “something creative and different.”
So Antin invited over a few girlfriends who were also tour/music video dancers and they began to play around with her own choreography, a style endowed with the spirit of famed choreographer Bob Fosse (“Sweet Charity,” “Cabaret”) but also music from Led Zeppelin to punk rock, Siouxsie and The Banshees to Bjork, and fashion as well. Meanwhile Applegate suggested they perform at the Sunset Strip’s renowned Viper Room. Owner Johnny Depp saw them rehearse and reportedly said, “This is why I opened a club.” The Pussycat Dolls, which have seen many members in its evolving lineup since debuting in 1995, became the Thursday night opening act for the next six years.
A turning point came in 2000 when No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani came to a show and said she’d love to do a guest spot, not just to dance but to sing. So did Christina Aguilera. In 2002 it was time to take the show to a bigger venue and so The Pussycat Dolls moved to The Roxy. For two shows a week, for seven weeks, the place was sold out. Other guest performers included Carmen Electra, Brittany Murphy, Charlize Theron, Nikka Costa, Paris Hilton and Pamela Anderson. All of them appeared without pay, just for the fun of it, including emcee Applegate. Sans celebrities, The Pussycat Dolls have opened for the Flaming Lips, Jane’s Addiction and The Brian Setzer Orchestra.
That same year, despite lacking an agent or manager, Antin began fielding calls from major music labels wanting to turn The Pussycat Dolls into a recording group. One of those was Jimmy Iovine, Chairman, Interscope Geffen A&M, who envisioned taking them to a bigger, hipper level. Subsequently they appeared on “Fashion Rocks” (performing “Tainted Love” with Soft Cell’s Marc Almond), “NBC New Year’s Eve,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “Last Call with Carson Daly” and the NBC drama series “Vegas.”
Their “We Went As Far As We Felt Like Going” was heard in 2004’s Shark Tale, their cover of the standard “Sway” (helmed by Ron Fair, A&M President and producer for Aguilera and Vanessa Carlton, among others) was heard in 2004’s Shall We Dance? The Pussycat Dolls were also seen in 2003’s Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle and Pink’s “Trouble” video as well as 2005’s Be Cool. Scherzinger was featured with Will Smith on “If U Can’t Dance (Slide)” on his 2005 Lost And Found album.
Today, there is a Pussycat Dolls line of makeup from Stila and The Pussycat Dolls Lounge opened in April 2005 inside Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, featuring a different roster of performers. The future may hold a line of lingerie, perfume, videogames, TV and movie projects, and other lounges.
In the end, The Pussycat Dolls are the women every man wants and every woman wants to be.

Nicole Scherzinger

The exotic Nicole Scherzinger was born in Honolulu of Hawaiian-Russian-Filipino parentage. Her large Hawaiian family of entertainers had their own Polynesian show in which her mother was the lead hula dancer. But when Scherzinger was six years old, her family moved to Louisville, KY, where her Army father had been transferred. “It was difficult because I didn’t look like everyone else,” she admits. “I was the ugly duckling.”

But Scherzinger always knew she was destined to be a singer. She attended performing arts magnet schools throughout her junior and senior high years. Her first professional play was at the prestigious Louisville Actors Theater. While at Wright State University in Dayton, OH, she majored in theatre and minored in dance, and played the lead role in every musical staged there, including Thelma Kelly in “Chicago” and Julie LaVerne in “Show Boat.” For three years, she supported herself with local modeling jobs. Then she learned that Travis Meeks of the rock band Days Of The New was looking for a girl singer. She recorded a few demos with him and then returned to school. But producer Scott Litt heard them and called her to L.A., where she recorded their second album. When asked if she would drop out of school to tour with them, the answer was yes.

After the tour however she went back home to work on writing her own music and on demos. Then a notice about auditions for the WB Network’s “Popstars” talent search series had her driving to Chicago and joining the audition line at five a.m. Eden’s Crush, the girl group that resulted from “Popstars,” was a sensation. Its 2001 self-titled debut album went Top 10 and the single “Get Over Yourself” did the same. In its year-plus together, the band toured with N*Sync and Jessica Simpson. Yet, says Scherzinger, “it’s hard being in a group that was put together rather than meant to be together.”

After its demise, and now living in L.A., she returned to her solo efforts and shopping for a record deal. She also landed acting roles, in Chasing Papi as Miss Puerto Rico and in “My Wife And Kids” as a supermodel. In 2003, a girl who was rooming with her said she was auditioning for The Pussycat Dolls. Nicole asked, “What’s that?” When told that the project involved Iovine and Fair, executives she’d long wanted to audition for, she was determined to get her shot. But by the time she could get her foot in the door, the auditions had ended. Nevertheless it was arranged that she’d drop by one night. When she did, she sang a cappella for Iovine and Fair and discussions about the lead singer spot began immediately.

“The Pussycat Dolls have no boundaries; this is not a cookie-cutter group,” says Scherzinger, who is the only member to also write songs for the group. “We’re allowed to find ourselves in our performance, do what’s truthful for each of us. I own each move.”

Carmit Bachar

Redheaded firecracker Carmit Bachar (pronounced Car-MEET Ba-HAR) began with The Pussycat Dolls doing a specialty act, a ball number with a contortionist vibe, nearly 10 years ago. Given her background in rhythmic gymnastics, it wasn’t a stretch. She trained in artistic gymnastics between the ages of 5 and 10 before moving to the rhythmic genre until she was 19. In 1992 she placed fifth at the U.S. Olympic Trials and went on to compete at the World Championships.

Her parents were also dancers--her father did pantomime with Marcel Marceau and danced in Elvis Presley’s act and on Broadway, and her mother is today still a dance teacher. Born and raised in L.A., Bachar would accompany her parents on tour. When home, she attended the Academy of Performing Arts and also studied piano and viola, drama and voice.

Bachar quickly became one of the busiest dancers on stage and in music videos. She has choreographed and/or danced for seemingly everyone. Most notably she was worked with Beyonce, Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson and Ricky Martin, for whom she was the “La Vida Loca” girl for his world tour. “I’m the one who popped out of the trunk of the Mustang and shook it,” she says with a laugh.

Because her dance career took off so fast, her earlier training in voice took a backseat. Now grateful for that youthful foundation, that part of her talent is back on track. Her success in both areas is even more remarkable given that she was born with a cleft lip and palate. “A lot of agents told me to not get my hopes up too high. But here I am and I’m proud to be a role model. I’ve learned to love myself and the fact that I’m different.” Bachar is in the process of founding a non-profit organization for children in the cleft community, one that has begun with an event called Smile With Me. “With getting more attention, I feel a responsibility to stand up for who I am.”

She feels the same way about The Pussycat Dolls. “You have to be strong and comfortable in your skin. You have to identify with your sexuality and exude confidence.”

Bachar admits she once was a blonde but became a redhead eight years ago. Says the woman whose nickname is Foxy, “My personality is definitely that of a redhead.”

Ashley Roberts

Phoenix native Roberts started dancing when she was three, singing when she was nine. Her father was a drummer turned car dealer who had played for The Mamas & The Papas; her mother was a Pilates instructor. Four years ago, just out of high school, she headed for L.A. During previous summers she had come to the West Coast to study under respected modern dance teachers such as Dee Caspary. This time, she was in L.A. for good. Since then she’s hooked commercials such as for Eclipse gum and Joe Boxer clothing, and numerous corporate and industrial events. And within six months, she was also a Pussycat Doll. “I honestly didn’t know about them but the word of mouth among dancers was awesome.”

Noting that when she sings she has a Marilyn Monroe-type voice, she says her onstage character is “flirtatious but innocent. She’s a fun free spirit. I guess I’m ‘the blonde’ in the group but,” she adds with a smile, “it ain’t natural.”

Jessica Sutta

When she tore the ACL in both knees as a teenager while on stage, Jessica Sutta’s dream of being a prima ballerina ended. But her dreams of being a dancer were just beginning.

Born and raised in Miami, of Irish-Russian-Polish, Catholic-Jewish heritage, she went to the New World School of the Arts at age 14 to study dance. After being injured, she switched to theater. “But I’d rather dance than anything,” she says. And she did, dancing in the Miami Heat troupe and being named captain her final year, 2001. As an actress, she was featured as a pill-poppin’ Gothic teenager in the drama series “Ocean Ave.,” shot in South Florida for audiences from Sweden to South Africa, and in the film Bully directed by Larry Clark.

In 2002, she moved to L.A. and three months later was on a dance audition for a PSA involving Smokey the Bear when choreographer Antin took notice. “She’s sweet, always positive, and very sensitive,” says Antin, “but on stage she turns it on.”
Tapped for The Pussycat Dolls, with her pale skin and dark hair, Sutta’s persona echoes a Betty Page pin-up.

From the moment she joined The Pussycat Dolls, she says, “this is where I always wanted to be. I thought The Pussycat Dolls were genius. It’s insane to be so lucky.”

Melody Thornton

The only member chosen from an open audition talent search, Melody Thornton was a rising young star in hometown Phoenix. She sang backup for local artists, the National Anthem for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and at Arizona State University talent shows. Her grandmother from her maternal Mexican side had been a singer for mariachi bands; her grandfather from her paternal African-American side was a blues guitarist. Being the only Latina and African-American in The Pussycat Dolls means a great deal to her. “I think a lot of the audience can relate to me,” she says, “and that adds to the Dolls.”

The first time she saw The Pussycat Dolls was on Christina Aguilera’s “MTV Diary.” “I loved the concept and if Christina loved it, that’s all I needed.” Thornton recorded the show and played it back over and over. When she heard on MTV News that the group was auditioning, she took time off from her job in the City of Phoenix after-school recreation program and drove to Burbank with her mother and sister. When they arrived at 5 a.m., five people were ahead of her. Thornton went in for the audition and her mother and sister waited across the street in their car for nine hours.

“I tried to mimic the concept to get noticed,” she says, “but that wasn’t easy. I’ve never even had a dance class. But once I sang, I worked it.” Called back with three others, she did choreography for a day and then sang for Iovine. “I wasn’t nervous because I didn’t know who he was,” she says with a laugh. “Besides, I don’t like to come off weak. Failure is not an option.” She then sang for Fair, who accompanied her on piano. A week of rehearsals and a Viper Room show later and Thornton was welcomed aboard in December 2003.

Kimberly Wyatt

Downhome Southern girl Kimberly Wyatt also happens to be, according to Antin, “the sexiest dancer I have ever seen in my life.” Says Wyatt, “I’m a lot shyer than most of the girls but my personality onstage is full-out. I really go for it.

Born in Warrensburg, MO, a tiny farm town near the Ozarks, her father is a trucker and her mother goes on the road with him. Dancing since she was seven, by the time Wyatt was 14 she was earning scholarships to study in New York each summer, from the Joffrey to the Broadway Dance Center. Graduating high school at 17, she promptly flew to Las Vegas to audition for cruise ship and casino shows. Landing a revue on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer Of The Seas, then the largest cruise ship in the world, she was able to visit most of Southern Europe.

In 2001, she moved to L.A., despite an offer from the Hubbard St. Dance Co. in Chicago. “All I knew was that L.A. is where dancers got jobs and L.A. was the dot MapQuest led to. My parents thought, ‘Oh my God, what is she going to turn into out there?’”

In 2003, Antin was the choreographer for a video for Nick Lachey’s solo album when Wyatt auditioned. Antin asked her that night to join The Pussycat Dolls. “I had only seen a poster for them,” Wyatt recalls. “I remember falling in love with the girls. Not many acts let you be sexy and still be about girl power.”

Wyatt now also helps Antin with those costumes and with the act’s choreography. “Small town Middle America is different from the coasts,” she says, “and all the girls come from big cities. I have a different perspective. They love my stories about towns where the fancy clothing store is Wal-mart.”


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