Title: They’re too risque for Russian MPs but Tatu may top UK pops
Author: Nick Paton Walsh
Source: The Guardian
Publish date: Saturday February 1, 2003
Pop duo Tatu are tipped to make history tomorrow by becoming the first Russian group to top the British charts. But while Moscow's pop glitterati are delighted with their success abroad, the girls' sexually ambivalent antics have outraged a group of Russian MPs who want new legislation to restrict their lewd performances.
Lena Katina, 17, and Julia Volkova, 18, are Tatu, the carefully packaged creation of a former child psychologist and filmmaker, Ivan Shapovalov, whose commercialisation of lesbian sexuality has taken the act across the world.
Their last two songs, All the Things She Said and Not Gonna Get Us, are the band's first English-language singles, made with a western market in mind by veteran American producer Trevor Horn, who also produced the Pet Shop Boys, Simple Minds and Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
Vlad Bukhadtsev, rock correspondent for Russia's NME music magazine, said: "Tatu are a sensation in our country as they are a group that play music we don't usually like. It's dance, commercial music. A lot of people like it, and they have sold a lot of records, [more than a million in eastern Europe]."
But he said their success at home and in Britain was down to "their producers successfully shaping their music and sexuality to sell music."
The girls' videos revel in the pair's sexual attraction for each other, featuring the teenagers in skimpy school uniforms, flirting with and kissing each other, or apparently masturbating in the bath. Their manager has admitted their sexuality is mostly a marketing ploy, and the girls, despite admitting they enjoy their ambiguity, have said they have boyfriends, and intend to marry and have children.
The group's name Tatu, comes from a heavy abbreviation of the Russian phrase "TA dyevushka lubit TU", or "This girl loves that one".
Despite their success, Russian MPs have seized on the girls' video antics as an example of the "cruelty and depravity emanating from today's television."
Vira Lekerava MP, from the Committee of Youth and Women, said: "Tatu, despite pretending to be minors, are adults. This is what makes their show even more repulsive. I am not sanctimonious - adults can do what they like - but we want to protect the souls of our children from the criminality of adults and their perversions." She said that an amendment would be tabled to punish people who distribute such "pornography".
Other Russians are less concerned. Professor Igor Kon, a distinguished sociologist, said: "To understand the secret of their success you have to look at the image they have created of hip, irreverent girls who behave as they like, and do not care what people think about their sexuality. Teenagers have a good sense of humour [for this sort of thing], which differentiates them from Russian adults who were brought up with the understanding that art is a teaching manual for life, an example to follow."