When you try to imagine the happening international destination for the next wave of pop music, the odds are strong you won't be thinking of ... Russia. For decades, teenagers the world over have taken their fashion and musical cues from mop-topped Brits or satiny Swedes, but in the dour, lifeless world of the Soviet Union, rebellious youths were probably defined as those destined for the concentration camps.
But that is changing with the growing pop-music phenomenon known as "Tatu" -- an acronym in Russian for "This girl loves that girl." A pair of Russian girls who like to kiss everywhere they perform, usually dressed in skimpy schoolgirl outfits, Tatu is the culture's corrupting flavor of the month. Their new hit "All the Things She Said" includes lesbian lyrics like: "When they stop and stare don't worry me/ 'Cause I'm feeling for her what she's feeling for me." The song went to No. 1 in Britain and is now climbing up America's top 20.
The girls, Yulia Vulkrova and Lena Katina, just turned 18, but were first "discovered" at 14 and 15 by pop guru Ivan Shapovalov, who quickly went to work creating a titillating act. In Britain, where the duo made it big before becoming legal adults, advocates against child sexual abuse condemned the group for playing up to pedophiles' sexual fantasies. Michele Elliott, director of the child-protection charity Kidscape, said they were "pandering to dirty old men's images of young girls in school uniforms being sexual."
But old pedophiles aren't the target of this sales job. Young men in general are.
Outside of the millions of men who are so uncool that they look unfavorably on sexual sin, it's a mass-culture staple that men are uncomfortable with male expressions of homosexuality, but they love to watch the lesbians -- as long as they're young and "hot," and don't look like fullbacks, like the out-and-proud Rosie O'Donnell. On his nationally syndicated daily radio countdown show, Carson Daly joked something to this effect about Tatu: "they've got loads of talent, not to mention the hot girl-on-girl action."