BURBANK, Calif. — They lined up against a concrete wall with a number pinned onto their clothes, filled with visions of fame, if not fortune.
They each want to be a member of the Pussycat Dolls.
More than 200 young women, outfitted in tall black platform boots, push-up bras, fishnet stockings, bare midriffs and practicing their hair tosses and shimmies, descended on a subterranean soundstage at CBS-Radford Studios here Saturday morning to audition for the Los Angeles-based burlesque and recording group.
It was one of seven open calls around the country where Robin Antin, founder of the troupe, hopes to find the next doll. Eight women will be selected in October to compete for the spot, and the entire drama will be documented in a reality series to air on the CW network this fall.
The winner will become a full-fledged member of the vocal group. A separate dance troupe performs at the Pussycat Dolls Lounge in Las Vegas.
“I’m looking for someone with formal dance training, who’s beautiful and who can sing,” Antin said. “I’m looking for that raw talent, someone who I can help mold. I’m sort of like an idolmaker.”
Of course, dressing for the part helps, too. Most hopefuls have arrived in what has become known as Pussycat garb — red or black HotPants, abbreviated white tops, high-heeled boots and sailor-striped bikini tops. Others chose to customize their looks with plaid, polkadots, heavy gold jewelry, studded leather belts and cowboy boots. There was even a transvestite wearing sequined Bob Mackie.
Trying to maintain a bit of show business surprise, the producers asked that the candidates be identified only by their first names.
“You can’t show it all off, it’s either the top or the bottom,” said Anastacia, 23, from San Francisco, clad in a long-sleeved hoodie and plaid short-shorts.
Most women found their tiny tops and bottoms at Forever 21 or made their own by cutting up T-shirts or skirts.
“I’m all about bargain shopping,” said Kelly, 19, a go-go dancer from Riverside, Calif., wearing a pinstripe vest over a sports bra and buckled boots over a pair of red and white soccer socks. “I can get all my stuff at thrift stores and spend $300 less than some bitch and look better. If you can do it for $30, why spend $300?”
This story first appeared in the September 12, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Indra, 25, from New Mexico, opted to wear her vinyl kitten Halloween costume, complete with knee-high fake-fur boots. “I figured wearing something sexy was part of the deal,” she shrugged.
One at a time, the women were led into a room in which Antin and several producers were seated at a long table. Taking their marks on a pink tape, they looked into a camera and recited their names, ages and hometowns as everyone watched on television monitors. Then they sang two songs over karaoke tracks (Beyoncé and Christina Aguilera are popular choices), and performed a freestyle dance to the Pussycat Dolls hit “Dontcha.”
In a few minutes, each audition was over and the waiting began.
Antin leaned over and whispered, “When I saw all those girls, I thought, ‘Whoa, any one of them could turn out ot be the next big thing.'”