ANAHEIM, California — Leave it to the Pussycat Dolls to cast someone in their music video who can actually steal attention away from six gyrating half-naked chicks.
“Busta Rhymes is pretty phat, man,” singer Nicole Kea said of her larger-than-life co-star. “He is so much fun. He’s so humble and he just makes you feel good. … When you’re around him, you feel magical.” The rapper is featured on the Dolls’ first single, “Don’t Cha,” and even agreed to appear in the video, directed by Paul Hunter (Jennifer Lopez’s “If You Had My Love,” Marilyn Manson’s “Dope Show”).
“We are so grateful that [Busta] did it and was a part of it with us,” Kea said. “We feel blessed. … Cee-Lo wrote ‘Don’t Cha’ and produced it for us, and we’re so excited. It’s a hot song, and it’s very much a Pussycat Doll vibe,” Kea said, describing the group’s mix of traditional ’30s and ’40s glamour, rock and roll and couture.
The Pussycat Dolls were the brainchild of choreographer Robin Antin, who founded the sexy burlesque troupe in 1993. Two years later, they performed for the first time onstage at Johnny Depp’s Viper Room and swiftly began recruiting some elite Hollywood starlets to play guest Dolls for a day. Charlize Theron, Gwen Stefani, Pink, Britney Spears, Scarlett Johansson and Carmen Electra have all hit the stage in the girls’ signature garb.
In 2003, Antin decided to wipe the slate clean and launch an open casting call to find a bevy of fresh new beauties who would be able to take the music industry by storm (see “Sing Like Christina And Dance Like Carmen? The Pussycat Dolls Want You” ). “We’re looking for really, really hot girls — insanely beautiful girls with beautiful voices. We’re looking for a triple threat, or at least a double. They have to really, really sing and really, really dance,” Antin said.
Former Eden’s Crush member Nicole Kea hopped on board as the group’s lead singer, joining Carmit Bachar, Ashley Roberts, Jessica Sutta, Melody Thornton and Kimberly Wyatt. Right now, the new Dolls are busy putting the finishing touches on their debut LP.
“We are working with some pretty phat people,” said Kea, dropping names of hot beatmakers Timbaland, Rich Harrison and Sean Garrett. Ron Fair (Kelly Clarkson, Avril Lavigne) is the executive producer of the disc. The girls are aiming for a late summer release, but stressed that they want to take the time to put out the best record possible.
“We’ve been working on [the album] for a while now because we’ve been very selective with our songs and our producers, and we don’t want to settle,” Kea explained. “The whole Pussycat Doll thing is a movement, a whole concept and a thing unto itself. We want [the record] to be like that, and we want the music to be special too.”
While the Dolls may have carved out a niche for themselves with their provocative dance moves and body-bearing attire, make no mistake — their first single is all about female empowerment.
“The lyrics are, ‘Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me,’ ” Kea admitted. “But if you see the video, it’s all about being who you are, having fun and being confident — and feeling hot,” Kea said. “It’s not so much about looking hot … although looking hot is important.”
Last summer, the Dolls contributed their sultry interpretation of the classic “Sway” to the “Shall We Dance?” soundtrack. In April, “Desperate Housewives” vamp Eva Longoria helped unveil the new Pussycat Dolls Lounge at Caesars Palace, right in the heart of the Las Vegas strip.
“It’s amazing to have the love and support and the belief that [people] have in us,” Kea said. “And we’re ready. We’re ready for it.”
And the sultry album title that will help draw in crowds?
“Hot Dolls,” Kea joked. “No, we don’t know yet. It’s all about the music right now.”