Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Temporary Tatu: Are the Hot Young Russian Singers a Step Forward for Lesbian Visibility, or Is Their Sexuality Just a Gimmick? (Music)

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Temporary Tatu: Are the Hot Young Russian Singers a Step Forward for Lesbian Visibility, or Is Their Sexuality Just a Gimmick? (Music)

Article excerpt

It's easy to liken the queer-charged notoriety buzzing around the Russian female duo Tatu to the hubbub that surrounded Frankie Goes to Hollywood in the '80s. Both laced cheeky homocentric imagery into otherwise harmless, if wildly infectious, pop music masterminded by fiber-producer Trevor Horn. Both enjoyed massive worldwide success, and both were censored by Britain's BBC.

There's just one glaring difference: Frankie Goes to Hollywood featured two members who were openly gay long before the band's formation. Julia Volkova and Lena Katina, the teenage women of Tatu, have been playing a game of "maybe we are, maybe we aren't" with the media.

And therein lies the problem--a big one. The rhetoric cranked out by the act's marketing machine tells us that the lesbian imagery that underscores the hit single "All the Things She Said" is a warm embrace of homosexuality and an acknowledgement of our collective. Allegedly, it's all designed to foster empathy and open-minded acceptance.

Sounds good, doesn't it? Indeed, "All the Things She Said" is an audacious pop anthem, rife with aggressive, up-yours attitude. There's just one thing missing--authenticity. The history of Tam leaves plenty of room for doubt.

The act was born in 1999, coining from the mind of Ivan Shapovalov, a Russian filmmaker and former psychologist and advertising executive. Volkova and Katina, then both 14 years of age, were chosen from an audition pool of approximately 500 young hopefuls. From there, Volkova and Katina were rushed into a studio to record the controversial single "Ya Soshla S Urea" ("I've Lost My Mind"). The song told of a young girl's excitement and emotional turmoil at being in love with another girl. The track was complemented by a video clip of the singers in schoolgirl outfits kissing in the rain. After garnering tons of media coverage and successful sales in Russia, the song was rewritten into the English-language "All the Things She Said" and featured on the album 200 km/h in the Wrong Lane. …

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