THE INTERVIEW:

Pussycat Dolls founder Robin Antin reinvents Las Vegas entertainment—again

Superstar Pussycat Dolls creator and Matt Goss manager Robin Antin is purring all the way to the bank. Meow, baby!

Robin Antin

It’s easy to find sexy men and women in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Robin Antin’s specialty is finding such men and women who can sing and dance – and building big entertainment businesses around them.

Antin, a longtime choreographer, is best known for creating the Pussycat Dolls burlesque-oriented dance troupe in 1995 that eight years later morphed into a successful band. She later was involved in the creation of girl groups Girlicious and the Paradiso Girls and nightclubs.

The Mind Behind PCD

The Mind Behind PCD

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What started as an idea in Christina Applegate's basement is now an international success. Robin Antin opens up about The Pussycat Dolls, and refreshing burlesque.

Antin still has a traveling Pussycat Dolls burlesque-style dance show, but the actual band broke up after its last tour in 2009.

Lately, she’s been co-managing the career of up-and-coming Las Vegas entertainer Matt Goss while simultaneously expanding the Pussycat Dolls brand and working on a host of other projects.

Perhaps her biggest challenge is to create a successful reincarnation of the Pussycat Dolls band, which before dissolving scored hit singles and filmed sexy music videos like “Don’t Cha,” “Jai Ho!” from the movie “Slumdog Millionaire;” and the 2007 Grammy-nominated “Stickwitu.”

Antin recently discussed her career and Las Vegas entertainment trends with VEGAS INC.

She met us at the Pussycat Dolls-branded gaming pit at Caesars Palace, where Pussycat Dolls dealers and dancers attract plenty of attention by marching through the casino floor to the pit for their shifts to entertain—and perhaps distract—gamblers.

She met us feeling energized by her projects and the prospects for Goss. As his producer, she had watched him perform the previous evening at his Gossy Room at the casino.

For someone so accomplished in the entertainment industry, Antin is surprisingly focused not on herself—but on her current and future stars.

“I want to make everyone else stars,” she said.

What do people want to see in live entertainment in Las Vegas and how has that changed during the recession?

They want to be entertained and sort of shut out from anything they’re doing in their regular lives. That’s what entertainment is all about, that’s why people escape to go to the movies. During the recession, the film business actually is doing all right—people want to escape to go to the movies.

Also, in the same way I’m doing with people coming to see the girls dancing and this sort of iconic Pussycat Dolls-type of entertainment, it for a moment makes you forget all of your troubles. And it’s inspiring, it’s aspirational for women.

For men—that’s kind of an easy question! It’s sexy and they just want to be entertained.

For the women, I always make a conscious effort to make them feel like they’re a part of it—they’re actually empowered. Inside every woman is a Pussycat Doll!

During the recession, has attendance declined at the shows you’re involved with, or did you have to lower ticket prices?

No, during the recession we’ve done actually really well. It’s funny, I actually decided to move my Pussycat Dolls Lounge from (Pure nightclub at) Caesars Palace after almost six years there and take it over to Planet Hollywood, where it will be Pussycat Dolls Burlesque Saloon. The reason I did that was because of a change of partnerships and things and I went with my original partners.

We didn’t see any change really with the customers.

But as soon as I moved it (the lounge), the Pussycat Dolls casino (gaming pit at Caesars Palace) and all the merchandise started to grow even more. It may have been the sort of thing where people said, “I won’t go to the Pussycat Dolls Lounge, but I’m going to stay in the casino and I’m going to gamble more and I’m going to buy more merchandise and I’m going to see the girls dancing inside the Pussycat Dolls gambling pit.”

Did you have to lower ticket prices for Matt Goss (recently $40 plus fees) or did that remain steady?

With Matt Goss, the only thing we’ve done is with certain occasions give discounts—to the locals for instance. We really want to keep the right customer. We’ve kept a nice even flow on the ticket price.

I’m business minded, although I’m just like entertainment, entertainment! My bottom line is to sell tickets. What we’re seeing with the Matt Goss show, and what we’ll see with the Pussycat Dolls Burlesque Saloon, is it’s just packed. It goes back to the entertainment. People want to see great entertainment. People want to have an hour or two of nonstop entertainment that makes them feel good and inspired, and they will pay for that.

What changes do you see coming in the entertainment industry in Las Vegas?

I’m inspired by the cabaret days and all of that. There’s sort of that old-school mentality—when you’re an entertainer, the thinking is, “It’s never been broke, so don’t fix it.” Yes there’s new technology, and there are new ways and there are new ideas. But really the bottom line is just great unbelievable eye-candy, eye-catching entertainment.

With a show like the Matt Goss show, it’s a sort of stripped-down, old-school, no-tricks, no-fire-going-off show and no crazy lights.

You get what you see. Matt comes out, he shakes everyone’s hand while he’s singing—old-school Frank Sinatra. That is entertainment!

I kind of went back a little bit to what everyone wants. The demographic for Matt is so wide. When the older people come they immediately go, “I feel at home, I feel this.” The younger ones, the 21-year-olds, you need to make them understand you’re not coming to see a Cirque du Soleil show. You’re going to see that simple, old-school, “Matt’s right in front of you and the girls (Dirty Virgins dancers) are right in front of you” and the kind of show they used to do back in the day.

But in literally like two minutes, they go, “Oh, he’s the most handsome guy. He’s as hot as you get.”

He’s one of the best male vocalists I’ve ever heard. I hear these girls say, “Oh my God, is he married? I don’t see a ring on his finger.” He’s got that Tom Jones kind of a thing. So, in just a few minutes they get it.

With entertainment, a lot of people are trying to make it bigger and bigger and bigger. What I did (instead) was the Pussycat Dolls Casino (the gaming pit that opened in 2007 at Caesars Palace), which was something new and fresh for Las Vegas. And now we’ve seen the concept pop up in all sorts of hotels, and I know we were the first.

Gary Selesner, the president of Caesars Palace, came to me and said “Let’s do a Pussycat Dolls casino.” And I said, “OK, I’m on board.” My concept was the dealers are all going to be Pussycat Dolls. The tables are all branded Pussycat Dolls. We’re going to make it with all of that iconic feel of the Pussycat Dolls with the colors and the feeling and the glitz and the glam. It would have sort of that retro feeling. But, the twist is, we’re going to have entertainment while you’re gambling. We’ll have big giant go-go cages in the middle of the pit so the girls can be in the middle of the pit dancing. And they said, “But wait, they’re gambling.” And I’m like, “Exactly. They’re gambling while the girls are dancing.”

They’re gambling while they are watching the girls, so maybe their focus is taken away a little bit. Some people say, “That’s so unfair.” But the truth is, if you’re losing money it’s a little stressful and you want to be entertained at least. It’s a fun concept and a lot of people caught on to it.

Matt Goss has been here at Caesars Palace in the Gossy Room at Cleopatras Barge for a year now. What’s the long-term plan? Is he going to go on to new things either here or at some other property?

I come to every show, I have a second home in Vegas. I live at Caesars Palace basically. Watching the show last night, I’m just blown away by his talent. I said to him, “You are the most incredible entertainer of all time!” He looks at me and says, “It’s so weird to hear you say that because we’re so close,” but I have to tell him almost like an outsider.

Last night, people talk about Frank Sinatra back in the day, and that’s the feeling they had. Matt Goss is giving people that again. Dick Clark came to see Matt’s show and you don’t get much bigger than that. Dick sent him a personal letter saying, “You are a great entertainer—you and your band and your dancers.” It was so amazing.

With things like that, I know we’re growing the show. That’s our goal every day to grow the show and I see Matt in a beautiful theater very soon. Where that’s going to be, that’s sort of up to the gods. We love our home here at Caesars Palace. We also have people from different hotels at the show (showing interest)—it’s interesting.

With Matt Goss, it’s not guaranteed he would stay with a Caesars Entertainment property?

He signed a three-year deal. For them to sign him to a three-year deal says, “We believe in you.” Gary Selesner and Matt are very good friends. They hang out together. That’s how I am with Gary, he’s our family. Gary gave us all a chance: Here’s this huge property and the world is going to come to you. That’s what’s great about Vegas.

It’s safe to say that while there’s no guarantee for anything in the world—Matt is here, he’s signed a three-year deal and that’s our focus.

Within the two years could Caesars move him into a bigger venue here?

We absolutely hope so. That’s the goal. It’s a constant progression, moving forward every day from how we can sell the merchandise to getting the girls inside. We’re creating a new merchandise section for Matt right across from the Gossy room. Matt after the show does a big meet and greet, signing the autographs and the CDs. It’s fun to watch it grow, but it’s also a lot of work.

Gary (Selesner) is family. The very first thing I did when I was invited to go Planet Hollywood (for the Pussycat Dolls Burlesque Saloon) was talk to Gary. I was nervous even though it’s all in the family. (Planet Hollywood and Caesars Palace are both owned by Caesars Entertainment Corp.) I didn’t know how he’d respond. The first thing he said was, “Absolutely, you have to do this.”

How is the Pussycat Dolls business set up? We see the trademarks are assigned to Universal Music.

My name is on the LLC for the business and I did a joint venture with Universal. When I started the Pussycat Dolls (in 1995), obviously I had the name all locked up for a little over eight years. Then we did the joint venture.

You’re still an equity owner? Anytime “Don’t Cha” plays, you get a cut?

Yes—anything Pussycat Dolls, anything.

As far as a Pussycat Dolls physical presence, you have a casino pit and a retail store in Caesars Palace and the saloon opening at Planet Hollywood. Do you have a venue in Los Angeles where the Pussycat Dolls got started?

The thing about Los Angeles is—it’s like you can jump onto any plane and go, “I hope this plane’s going to make it.” I feel like Los Angeles is a very fickle city. Things come and go. There’s not a big turnover of people. I’m not saying I don’t want to do it, I’m saying it’s got to be the right location, the right space, all those things have to come together.

(Johnny Depp’s) The Viper Room was obviously the most obvious choice. That’s where I started the Pussycat Dolls, that was the home of the Pussycat Dolls. At one point when it was for sale I wanted to buy the Viper Room and turn it into a Pussycat Dolls lounge. We did a small residency there. What I found was L.A. is a funny place.

If I did a Pussycat Dolls lounge or saloon there, I would do something that was consistent with the brand, but not necessarily having just the show every night. I’d have other bands come in. It’s a tough business to run, bringing in the right people is tough. You have to get the right DJ, the right promoters and these guys that run the club business in L.A. they literally go from one to the other. I’ll see a promoter I’ve known for 15 years in L.A. and he’s been in a million clubs. Here in Vegas, you can be a promoter that stays at one place for a long time. The Pussycat Dolls Lounge (at Pure at Caesars) was open for almost six years—that run is almost unbelievable. To get a year in L.A. you’re lucky.

I would only do it with the right people. (Sam Nazarian’s) SBE (Entertainment Group) is a great company that I’ve spoke to a lot about doing a partnership with a club. If I were going to do something, I would go with them. They are so smart, they do clubs everywhere. They’re good guys.

I’m focused on Vegas right now. But I’m going to Canada. In Vancouver, there is a hotel-casino (the River Rock). I booked two different dates, one for the Pussycat Dolls Burlesque Review, which is the touring Pussycat Dolls where I bring in celebrities. I also booked the Matt Goss show. These are in June and September.

We’re looking at (a possible venue) for a hybrid of the Pussycat Dolls club and casino all in one. We’re also looking at a (possible) Gossy room, where Matt would do a residency once a month. It would be a club where he would do a residency. It’s a great marketplace.

I have been approached by Brazil to do a Brazilian Pussycat Dolls. We’re so big there, we’re very much loved there. Our fan base is huge over there. It’s a good opportunity. Japan also approached us about doing a Japanese Pussycat Dolls, more of a nightclub venue. This is all pointing to that I can do Pussycat Dolls in every country. Australia is a huge marketplace for us. We can do these everywhere, I’m just very careful about my partners and where I do it. I don’t want to just throw a club into any space and go, “God, I hope we do well.” I want to know what your traffic is, is it a tourist attraction?

What’s the status of the Pussycat Dolls recording group?

It is being reconfigured. It is Pussycat Dolls Two. It is kind of like the iPad. You know the iPad, there was the original and now there’s the iPad 2. Everyone is like, “Why do you need an iPad 2, the first iPad was great.” Exactly. But now it’s even better. I’m not saying the first time around wasn’t absolutely incredible. I started the Pussycat Dolls in 1995 and it went through many incarnations. There was even a Pussycat Dolls before the band. What’s great is I can continue to change it into a lot of different versions of the Pussycat Dolls. This next version will be new and fresh but it won’t fix too much that wasn’t broke.

The band did well but a lot of the girls want to go and do their own thing and I go, “OK.”

Do you have a lead singer yet?

This time I’m not focusing the group on just one girl and the other girls being dancers. I’ve got two girls that are phenomenal singers. I have not signed anybody up yet, I am having auditions.

Nicole Scherzinger, the lead singer, she went on to bigger and better things...

Bigger, better? I don’t know about better! I don’t know about bigger?

I love Nicole. I look at it like this. The Pussycat Dolls is an amazing launching pad for any of these girls. For them to want to do their own thing, I support that 1 million percent. It’s the timing of it that I would say as a businesswoman, “I would beg to differ. You’re in something that’s working brilliantly. You’re in something that is a machine that is going and going and going.” So if it were me, I would say, “I’m going to go on to something bigger and better, but I’m also going to stick with what I’m doing.” With the Pussycat Dolls, it’s not one or the other, you actually can do that. The girls didn’t really see it that way.

I still support them 1 million percent and Nicole is doing really well, she’s out there and got music going. (Antin says later she has a 25 percent interest in Scherzinger’s solo business).

It’s hard to break through in America, we did that. Fergie is a good example, she’s with the Black Eyed Peas and she does her solo and it’s brilliant. But she stays with the Black Eyed Peas. Gwen Stefani of No Doubt, the same thing. That’s a smart business move.

The thing about Nicole is she is a special force of nature. She is a triple threat beyond belief. She is a stunning girl, probably one of the most stunning girls in the world. She has an amazing voice, she is a great dancer and she is a great person. She’s funny, she’s a great woman.

As much as I would have loved to have gone another round with all of those girls, I honestly have to say I am so happy to have the opportunity to re-create the Pussycat Dolls because what I’m doing now is I’m branding this beyond belief.

Just so everyone knows, each group is going to be just as special as the last. It’s not going to be a bunch of faceless girls, they’re all going to have their thing, they’ll all have this as a launching pad and then when they’re done—the same thing! Move on to the same thing.

And the Pussycat Dolls Burlesque Saloon opens in May at Planet Hollywood?

Yes, that one will not have gaming in the saloon, but we’ll do a separate Pussycat Dolls gaming pit and a merchandise store in Planet Hollywood. (Like at Caesars Palace) I design the merchandise.

And what’s the show in Canada?

We just booked the tour in Canada. This is the one where I bring in the celebrities. Carmen Electra has been a big part of that. It’s the original concept of what I created in 1995, it’s the very sexy sort of burlesque kind of thing which I continue to do in the nightclubs. It promotes the nightclubs and the nightclubs promote it. I am taking that show on Jimmy Fallon soon.

TV is a big part of my world. I first created a show called “The Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search For The Next Doll.” So we did a TV show to find a girl for the recording group. We found the girl and we put her in the group. As it goes, she decided she wanted to do her own thing.

We did another season called “The Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious,” which has always been a name that I loved—it’s like delicious mixed with girl. It’s cute, it’s sexy, it’s a little naughty for a moment. The Pussycat Dolls was the same thing, I always liked that risque kind of factor, considering the young demographic we have. I created these girls on the show, they all live in a house together and I was supposed to pick three and I actually went with four, which was the big finale of the show, and put these girls together. And as these girl groups go, one didn’t work out, she left, that turned it to three. The three grew up in Canada. I love the Canadians, they’re so loyal. We did tours and made great money. We just released an album and two of the girls decided they wanted to try different things. One of them is still there, we’re in the midst of promoting a song (Hate Love) that is doing really well. We’re in the midst of putting the group back together.

Girlicious is a great name, a great brand. My idea is to put Girlicious and the Pussycat Dolls (recording group) on tour together. Girlicious is a little younger, a little bratty.

You’re working also on a reality TV series about yourself, produced by Kim Kardashian?

A Kim and I have been best friends for many years. She’s always believed in me and the Pussycat Dolls. She’s done a lot with us, she put her face, her name on it. She knew I was getting ready to develop a show, following the Pussycat Dolls empire, the business of the Pussycat Dolls, and what it takes to build a brand. What is the Pussycat Dolls? It’s all about female empowerment, it has to do with being sexy, it’s about confidence. It’s about believing in your dream and it’s an aspirational message. So it’s not just the drama about these girls fighting, which of course you will see. You’ll see me building the new Pussycat Dolls. You’ll see me bringing in a couple girls for Girlicious. You’ll see me handling the Matt Goss show. You’ll see the male side of it—my partners are men when I have an all-female business. And you’ll see the challenges keeping this business on point every day. I’m the one everybody comes to and looks at but at the same time what I think people will see from me is I am very hands-on.

Like yesterday I went to the audition (for Pussycat Dolls Burlesque Saloon), I sat there all day and watched every single girl sing and dance. I am so detail oriented, I design the merchandise and the costumes and I will walk around with a needle and thread 24/7 because I’m always going, “hand it over, let me fix it because I know how to sew and how to make clothes and I know exactly what I want.” I never throw my name on something and walk away, if I did for one second, that’s when it all changes.

Kim and I we’re having conversations and she said, “I believe in you and what you’re doing, maybe we should do something together. I’m doing what I’m doing, I’m successful at what I’m doing and you are too.” It’s not just her putting her name on it and walking away. It’s her saying, “I’m putting my stamp of approval on this, I believe in Robin, I believe in her brand.” And sure enough we talked enough about it and one thing led to another. Then the news got out. I called her and said “Kim, it got out.” She said, “Great, I love it.” It’s great for everyone, it’s a great launching pad for a lot of things I’m doing. We plan to start shooting in a few weeks.

Can you say what network it will be on?

That’s something we can’t talk about because of her deals, because she’s an executive producer. It will depend on what’s best for her, a lot of things.

Will she appear on the show?

As an executive producer, she’s not obligated to be on the show. She’s one of those people where, if it feels right, yes she’ll appear. It’s focused on me and the Pussycat Dolls brand.

I am the Pussycat Dolls. It’s sort of showing the woman behind the Pussycat Dolls and the business that goes into this, things like the Pussycat Dolls Fitness DVDs.

That’s something I didn’t expect to be in and we’re doing really well and the reason for it is because dancing makes you feel good and dancing gives you that dancer body and I’m teaching women how to dance who are not dancers and have had no training. That’s a world I want to show and what goes into that, it’s not just “five, six, seven - eight!”

Is your business based in Las Vegas or Los Angeles?

The Pussycat Dolls recording group is based in Los Angeles, those are my partners. A huge part of it is based in Las Vegas. Los Angeles has the music, the fitness DVDs and the lingerie line I’m developing right now.

Is it fair to say the Pussycat Dolls is a multimillion-dollar brand?

Absolutely. Worldwide, we’ve sold about 10 million albums. It’s big. Our clothing and merchandise business at concerts has done extremely well.

With you working on so many things, multiple girl groups and Matt Goss, do you or your partners worry you’re too busy and not focusing on the core Pussycat Dolls brand?

When you’re a businesswoman, just like any producer, manager, or owner of a company, there are always going to be different parts of your business. I have to separate certain things. The thing with Matt is I believe in not just his talent, but his business so much and it’s something I enjoy. I see a business that has the potential to be a massive business going for a very long time. So it’s not just like I’m hear hanging out. We are working really hard. I’m the head of my own thing, I don’t have partners looking at me and going, “Robin, what are you doing?” They all get it, they’ve all seen Matt go from zero to 100 here in the United States. Obviously he had a huge career in the U.K.

I helped bring him here when it was sort of like, “I don’t know about Vegas.”

He had never done Vegas before.

It’s just a part of my business. Yes, I’m an extremely busy woman. But Matt is so smart. He knows the business. He knows the record business, he runs a lot of it. He’s like Madonna in a way. She runs her empire. Matt has people working for him, but at the end of the day he will always say, “Let me do it.”

It’s nice to have that. I have a partner in him where I don’t have to come up with every single idea. He’s the leader of his ship and I’m the leader of my ship. Together, as business partners, we do a really good job of running. He has other people on his team.

And I make time for myself. I get manicures and pedicures. I do things I enjoy. I love to shop, all the things girls like to do. I’m planning to go to Hawaii and chill out. I can do that. I can say to everyone, “You know what everyone, I’m going away for five days.”

I like to go places where my phone doesn’t work.

What was it like to be sued for trademark infringement in 2004 by Johnathan Cota, who owned the Pussycat Theatre chain of X-rated theaters? That was settled in 2005 and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office declared the Pussycat Theatre trademark had been abandoned.

He tried to sue me. It was such an interesting thing, it was when we were just getting started. I’m like, “Go on the Internet and type in `Pussycats,’ you’re going to get 50 million things that are going to come up `Pussycat.’ At that point we weren’t a nightclub, we were just the Pussycat Dolls recording group. It had nothing to do with the Pussycat Theater. It wasn’t porn. It was a very interesting lawsuit that kind of came and went because he really had no claim. He’s definitely someone who was grabbing, when he saw something that was working with the Pussycat name attached to it. I loved the way the theater looked, but I wasn’t inspired by a Pussycat theater that was porn. That wasn’t the reason I started the Pussycat Dolls.

You say the Pussycat Dolls brand empowers women, but you must hear from women who say it’s too much “T & A.” (And Hasbro in 2006 shelved plans for real Pussycat Dolls after critics complained the burlesque-originated brand is too sexual for young girls). Is the brand exploiting women?

It’s (criticism) always going to happen. The name “Pussycat Dolls” has been a little risque, with a risky kind of factor.

It’s obvious why they were thinking of just the word—‘’Pussycats”—that it might be too much for some young girls.

The real hardcore truth is I created the Pussycat Dolls based on dolls. I really wanted to call the group “The Dolls” in the beginning. I was thinking of “L.A. Dolls” and then “Pussycat” sort of came in and it’s a great name.

It’s so much not at all what people say when they say that it’s too risque for a younger audience, maybe based on what the girls wear. But what the girls wear is fun, it’s sort of chicky, it’s innocent but in a flirty, kind of a dress-up-like-a-doll sort of way. There’s a reason why our audience happens to be so young. I’ve got 12-year-old girls coming up to me and freaking out when they meet me. I’ve never done anything that makes young girls or their parents feel like they can’t let their daughters or their younger kids see what we’re doing.

When you see the concerts and what the girls are wearing, they’re in the same idea of what Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera are wearing. Rihanna. Lady Gaga. All the big ones. It’s the same thing. Maybe wear a top that shows your stomach. That’s not a bad thing. They are very much clothed and I believe in it and I believe in the sex appeal about it. It’s not overt or being over the top in being too sexy for young girls. Every young girl wants to dress like a doll.

Every woman wants to have the feeling of a Pussycat Doll because it’s fun and it’s sexy. Anyone can say anything they want, but I know what the real story is and why I do it. I know how to speak to the young girls and I know how to speak to the women.

It’s not exploiting women. Based on how they dressed, if they wear shorts and boots—they’re really dancing, this is real choreography from a real trained professional dancer. I’ve been in ballet classes my whole life. It has nothing to do with stripping. If you do your research and find out what this really is and look at the workout DVDs and you’ll see there is real dancing. If you look at what we’re wearing, it’s taking the concept of lingerie where you can actually wear it. You can wear a corset out on the streets with a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.

You won’t have a 12-year-old in this casino or at the Pussycat Dolls Burlesque Lounge, but they can still enjoy the music?

Yes with the music we keep in mind a younger type of girl. It’s fun. It’s pop. It’s got an urban twist. We’re not going to do music that’s going to shut out that audience. It’s going to always have them at the top of the list.

What else are you working on?

There is something that is a big dream I have always wanted to do and one of the reasons I started the Pussycat Dolls was to be able to create live entertainment. My brain works in that way. That is to do the Pussycat Dolls on Broadway. The real live theater show, it would be the Pussycat Dolls and how I started it. I started in a little garage, I was living with Christina Applegate (Kelly on Married… With Children). She had a little garage in her house. We were just friends and I was a dancer and I was living in an apartment and she said, “Come live with me” and I’m like “`OK.”’

She was my friend but it was kind of a strange thing, I was living in this big house. I’d go to her garage and create all these little dance numbers. And one thing led to another and she’d come down to the garage, her little tiny dance studio, at like 2 in the morning and say, “That’s so great—I’m exhausted but what are you doing up?” I’m like, “I’m working,” and that’s really how I created it.

She had the idea to bring it to the Viper Room, she was friends with Johnny Depp.

Was Christina Applegate in the show?

Yes, she was like a permanent guest. She did the emcee, she danced, she sang. It actually was a great thing for her. She didn’t know this, but she ended up going into “Sweet Charity” on Broadway. She was singing and dancing and saying, “I learned a lot from the Pussycat Dolls.” Think of the celebrities we had back in the day: Carmen Electra, Gwen Stefani, Charlize Theron, Scarlett Johansson, Fergie, Pink, Christina Aguilera. The only one I’m still waiting to get is Jennifer Lopez, I haven’t gotten her yet.

Christina and I brought it to the Viper Room and Johnny freaked out and was like, “It’s the best thing I’ve ever seen.”

He really gave me the chance and I ran into Johnny Depp recently and said, “I’ve never been able to thank you, but you’re the reason that I’m here.” He said, “I’m blown away by what you’ve done. I’ve seen the Pussycat Dolls name out there.”

But I’m like, “You need to know you’re the one who gave me the chance and gave me a home for 10 years at the Viper Room.”

So there was a journey, and a real story there. It’s a story based on a girl with a dream starting something from nothing, this little tiny seed that became bigger and bigger and bigger and grew into this megabrand. Doing all of that was not easy, showing all the twists and the turns and the angles and taking it from the nightclub to the recording label when I went in to Interscope/Universal. They were coming to the live shows and when I went in there they were like, “This is the greatest thing ever. But what is it and what are we going to do with it?”

It’s all these hot girls that sing and dance, but we need to take it to the next level and in doing that, we had to audition girls and I had to go to my friends, who were my best friends in the show, and say, “We’re changing everything because it’s another incarnation.” My friends were like, “How can you do that?” It was the mentality of, “We’ve been here the whole time.” The real story is I tried to work it out with the girls and make sure they were taken care of and not left alone in the gutter. We gave some of them great opportunities.

We ended up creating the group out of that and I lost friendships along the way. I ended up building them up along the way. I said, “This is business. Things change. We need to bring in fresh blood. You were there and helped me. I’m giving you something, you deserve something.”

The interesting thing is when the label made a deal with me, they wanted to take the Pussycat Dolls name and concept and turn it into something mainstream. For me, I got it. We had to take away a few things that maybe were too risque. They wanted to take away everything—the fishnets, anything sexy. I’m like, “That’s the Pussycat Dolls.” I had like this constant battle with them over fishnets, over stupid things like that—the story is so great you’d be able to tell that in a big Broadway setting and do a song called “No Fishnets.”

Things like that were so unbelievably ridiculous, but it really happened. All the things they wanted to take away, but ended up being the very thing that became the reason the Pussycat Dolls became successful.

So do you think it will happen, a Broadway production?

Yes, I’m working on it.

And after Broadway it could be a movie, like Dreamgirls, with girls fighting and coming and going.

It’s very much of a Dreamgirls type of story, starting from this little tiny thing and it grew into something huge.

What’s the timing for the show?

The Broadway show is going to happen organically. I work on it a lot. I have written out my story in chronological order—every little thing timed out. It takes a real army to put that kind of show together.

Would you produce it?

I would have to.

Would you act in it?

If you asked me what is another dream separate from what I am doing, it’s not to be an actress. But it’s absolutely to perform on Broadway. I was going down the road to audition for “Chicago,” because I really wanted to do “Chicago.” My timing didn’t work out because I am so busy. But for something like this maybe I would do a guest appearance. I love being on camera, but I want to make everyone else stars.

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  1. This should have been written as a story. The term 'Pussycat' came up so much it was nauseating. Either way, I'm not sure who was drinking the Kool-Aid more in this interview, the author or Robin.