Seducing Respect as Well as Hits

"Do they need a white girl?" singer Michelle Visage recalled asking pal Idalis Leon, then a member of the female pop/dance vocal trio Seduction.

This was early last year when Seduction, then being assembled in New York by producers/writers David Cole and Robert Clivilles, needed another singer.

It turns out that the producers did need Visage to complete an interracial set (Leon is Latino; third member April Harris is black). A flip, fast-talking hipster sporting blonde dreadlocks, Visage, 20, noted: "This interracial concept has become our calling card."

Three months ago, Seduction, best-known for the Top 5 single "Two to Make it Right," was stunned by a personnel change. Leon, reportedly having conflicts with the producers, was replaced. To keep the interracial set intact, they hired another Latino, Sinoa Loren.

But Seduction hasn't suffered commercially from the switch. Its debut A&M; album, "Nothing Matters Without Love," which cracked the 500,000 sales mark, is still selling. The fourth single from the album, "Could This Be Love," is currently climbing the charts. Also, the trio has been touring with major dance-music acts, like Milli Vanilli and Stevie B.

Seduction, though, is suffering from something that plagues all female pop/dance groups these days--lack of respect. Groups like Expose, the Good Girls and the Cover Girls, which perform mostly dance music, are all made up of young, pretty and shapely women. These groups seem to have been assembled using a perverse priority system--looks first, talent second. That's mainly because performing dance-music, where beat is foremost, requires minimal vocal skills. With the exception of En Vogue, the consensus is that none of those groups feature capable singers.

It's easy to see why Seduction, with its racy image and repertoire of lightweight pop/dance tunes, is lumped in with the other pretty female groups. Seduction was, in fact, manufactured by Cole and Clivilles. Its members do seem interchangeable--as indicated by the fact that Loren's replacing of Leon hasn't made much difference to Seduction's fans.

Visage, however, blamed the material and production for the criticism the group has received. "People don't understand that we can all sing much better than we do on the record," she said. "But we have to sing the way the producers want us to sing. This is mostly dance music, which has to be performed on a certain level. They hired us to get a certain sound and that's what we have to deliver. We haven't had a chance to show off what we can really do. Maybe next album."

But it's that bimbo tag, which Seduction can't seem to shake, that really makes her fume.

Visage, who's from Plainfield, N.J., pointed out that she studied theater at the New York's American Musical Dramatic Academy and that Harris went to Howard University and Loren to the Berklee School of Music.

"Do bimbos have that kind of education?" Visage asked huffily.

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