US burlesque stripteasers wiggle at Cannes film fest

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Buxom American stripteasers shook their stuff Thursday in an oddball French film that has brought them from cabaret obscurity to the glitz of the Cannes world movie festival.

With peroxide blonde hair, fake eyelashes and twirling nipple-tassels, the women stars of "On Tour" are squaring up to Hollywood heavyweights and arthouse auteurs in competition for the Cannes top prize, the Palme d'Or.

Dirty Martini, Mimi Le Meaux and their co-stars said they came to France thinking they were to help train the cast of French film-maker Mathieu Amalric's movie -- but found he wanted to make them the stars.

Amalric, who also acts in the film as the down-at-heel French impresario behind the burlesque tour, is best known internationally as the villain in the James Bond movie "Quantum of Solace".

Reaching the red carpet at the world's biggest film event "is like Cinderella going to the ball," Mimi Le Meaux -- her stage name -- told reporters ahead of the film's gala screening on Thursday evening.

In the film, the dancers -- ripe starlets with hearts of gold -- bring their "New Burlesque" style, inspired by 1940s cabaret, on a tour of drab French seaside towns, with the dream of reaching Paris.

The women said "new burlesque", with its bizarre and satirical dance routines, was all about women running the show -- an antidote to a showbiz industry seen as male-dominated and sex-obsessed.

"It's really a women's film," Dirty Martini told a news conference. "Burlesque is there to break down stereotypes."

In "On Tour" Amalric builds the story of the dancers and their manager partly through improvised comic scenes with the real-life stripteasers and scenes from their live stage performances -- flesh, feathers and all.

"Afterwards I did a film with actors from the Comedie Francaise (France's top classical theatre)," Amalric said. "I made them watch them 'On Tour' to show them what real actors were."

© 2010 AFP

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