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thedrifter
08-24-07, 04:01 PM
Today: August 24, 2007 at 7:40:4 PDT

Stationed in Iraq, Marines to get eyeful from Vegas

By Jerry Fink <jerry@lasvegassun.com>
Las Vegas Sun

It's better than a candygram. Much better.

The wives of five Marines stationed in Iraq have taken up an offer made by the producer of a topless show in Las Vegas to teach them how to dance like Vegas showgirls for a one-time only performance to be taped for their husbands.

The women, all from Oceanside, Calif., won't be topless, but they will be dressed in velvet skirts and long gloves and leotards - glamorous and elegant - for a sexy, two-minute dance routine that should remind the husbands whom they're really fighting for.

"It's not political," producer Anita Mann said. "It's supportive of the troops."

Mann is producer of "Fantasy," which recently completed its second year at the Luxor. Cris Judd (briefly married to Jennifer Lopez) choreographed the production, but Mann - a former dancer - created the dance steps for the wives .

The unusual display of patriotism is not out of step for Mann, who used to perform for USO shows with entertainers such as Bob Hope.

"The troops don't want to see me dance anymore," Mann said. "So we thought we would put some real wives on camera to entertain."

The husbands don't know the performance awaits them. Their brides - most have been married for about six months - learned about Mann's search over the weekend and were rehearsing in Las Vegas by Thursday.

The dance routine, done to the tune of the "Fantasy" theme, will open the Luxor show tonight . KTLA-TV of Los Angeles will air a live rehearsal this morning and tape the evening performance. On Thursday the wives will be in the "KTLA Morning Show" studio for a two-way hook-up that will allow Marines Kurtis Adams, Kalem Cossette, Francis Gress, Eric Otero and Nicholas von Koenig to talk with their wives and see the tape of them dancing.

The women aren't professional dancers. They range in age from 20 to 28 years old. Four are homemakers. Huiwen Gress is an attorney.

"I think my husband might be somewhat embarrassed by this," Gress said, "but we only agreed to do it because Anita promised that it would be done in a dignified manner.

"Before signing up I talked to all the show's producers, and they all guaranteed that it would be done in the highest integrity and very dignified. So far, it's been pretty tasteful."

She says she is sending the unusual message because she misses her husband and can't see him.

"This way we get to do a little surprise and they get to see us," Gress said.

They all have different reasons.

Stephanie Cossette said she's doing it for fun.

Melanie von Koenig: "To show our husbands that we really care." Rebecca Adams: "To have him see me as a sexy mamma again." The couple have two children, ages 1 and 2.

Rebecca Otero said it's a gift to her husband. "He's gone all the way to another country to show that he loves me and loves our country," she said. "He goes to the field for weeks on end, sleeps on the grass and sometimes hardly has enough water or food, and he does it just because he loves us. And so I want to be able to say that I did all this and I worked really hard to let him know that I love him very much and I'll do anything for him."

The surprise is the brainchild of Steve Syatt, who owns a public relations agency in Encino, Calif., and sometimes works with Mann.

"We're not being political here," Syatt said. "We just believe very strongly in our soldiers and our Marines . I'm not saying I'm in favor of the war, but I feel they're heroes. They're our brothers and our sons , and their families are our families.

"We thought this would be a different kind of way to showcase what these families are doing for our country."
Jerry Fink can be reached at 259-4058 or at jerry@lasvegassun.com.

Ellie