Watch your back, PCD. There’s a new girlicious group on the scene, and they’ve got your number. Meet the Britney Cat Dolls, a gaggle of New York drag performers led by YouTube superstar Britney Houston, who caused tons of LOLs last summer with her inspired take on Lil Mama’s “Lip Gloss” video.
In actuality, BCD is a onetime joke created by Houston for her latest sure-to-be-blogged-about opus, a parody of the (real) Dolls’ “When I Grow Up.” On the guerrilla-style set of the “remaking” of the video, as Houston calls it, the quintuple threat (actor/ singer/ dancer/ choreographer/ all-around fierce person) is hard at work making sure every sight gag lands, every dance move is in sync and every location is used to its maximum potential.
While filming the second verse, Britney and the girls sit on a stone slab while busy bees in the Meatpacking District cross in front of them, paying no mind to the camera guy, the five divas popping their chests or the dude using a bubble machine. Instead of screaming at the rude New Yorkers ruining take after take, Britney simply turns them into oblivious co-stars by raising a prop microphone up to them as they carelessly shuffle by.
“A lot of it is really improv,” Britney confesses. “I’m in the moment and it’s me just doing something, and [then] it becomes signature. And you’re like, ’Oh my God, who thought of that?’ and I’m like, ’I didn’t even think of it. It just happened!’ ”
That’s not to say Britney’s videos aren’t meticulously thought out. From the costumes (each Doll designed her own) to the extensive shot list to the frighteningly dead-on choreography, Houston’s parodies are pitch-perfect love letters to the artists she admires.
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“When I do these things, I [usually] try to give a twist to the choreography. But [the Pussycat Dolls have] a signature move, and I just had to put it in there intact.”
For the record, the official must-have PCD dance move apparently involves a windmill arm and a booty pop.
Acting as the “other girls” to Britney’s “Nicole Scherzinger” are four fabulous staples in the Manhattan drag scene. “They’re not allowed to sing,” Houston jokes. “It’s in their contract. [Actually,] they’re mouthing as much as the other girls do.” Zing!
Sitting pretty behind the camera is director Gregory Clifton. “I’m enjoying the chaos. It’s really fun watching other people watch them.” Dozens of tourists, shop owners and (eek!) NYPD officers stop by the set throughout the day. Comments range from full-fledged support (“You’re beautiful,” shouts one hipster girl) to ignorant diatribes to precious innocence. (When an 8-year-old boy tells one Doll, Sahara, that she’s “dressed like Superman,” the performer snaps back, “Super who?”) And the Britney Cat Dolls take it all in stride.
“I want us to represent all the girls out there who are really turning it and who are hot and sexy and fabulous, which is us!” Britney emphatically notes. “We mean business, and we’re overlooked. And we want our own spotlight!”
Laverne, of Lucky Cheng’s fame, piggybacks the serious sentiment. “And note that we are an all-black Britney Cat Doll group. It’s very exciting! Black girls representing!”
As far as future plans, Britney hopes she won’t be pigeonholed as a gender-bending Weird Al. “I want [audiences] to know that I’m multitalented, that I actually do other things.”
But she also acknowledges that she might not be everyone’s (read: Middle America’s) cup of tea.
“The performance art that I do is something that’s so underground. On the international scale, we’ve only had, really, RuPaul. [She] made huge, huge, huge waves in media and being a pop icon. I feel like I’m able to maybe get somewhere with what I’m doing, and get to that.”
So what’s the next step for Britney Houston world domination? You guessed it. A pop album!
“We’re in the studio, working with producers and writing. And hopefully by [later] this summer I will definitely have something big, and I’m really excited about putting it out.”
While Britney’s fate as a legitimate pop-music artist is yet to be determined, one thing’s for sure: The music video will be awesome.