New Projects Are the Pussycats' meow

With a new CD, the Pussycat Dolls try to claw their way to the top of the heap.

Sept. 23, 2008 — -- The Pussycat Dolls may want to rule the world, but relax, ladies: They have no interest in stealing your men.

The group that rocketed to fame in 2005 by posing the musical question "Don't cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?" is hardly a haven for homewreckers. Sitting in their record company offices, all glammed up for a photo shoot, the women pass around Mentos and describe themselves as good girls more interested in being role models for their core audience.

That would be "girls between ages 3 and 15," says Jessica Sutta, 26. "Everyone says, 'Oh, a lot of guys must come to your concerts.' But from the start, it's been the girls — and the gay boys.

"When you have a huge gay following, that's when you know you've made it," she says. "Madonna has one. Cher has one."

The Dolls aren't resting on their laurels, though. Their sophomore album, out today, is titled "Doll Domination" and showcases A-list co-writers and producers, among them Timbaland and Sean Garrett.

Rodney Jerkins helmed the first single, "When I Grow Up," already a top 10 hit and No. 1 dance track. The follow-up, "Whatcha Think About That," features Missy Elliott.

"Our old fans are going to love it, and hopefully we'll get new fans," says lead singer Nicole Scherzinger, 30. "There are fun songs that everybody can dance to, and there are really emotional songs that people will be able to relate to."

Granted, the Pussycat Dolls — conceived as a burlesque troupe before being reformed as a band — didn't become a household name solely by virtue of musical prowess, as its members acknowledge.

"PCD is a brand, a powerhouse, a machine that's constantly expanding," says Ashley Roberts, 27. In addition to the CW reality show "Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious," which just wrapped a season, there are lingerie and denim lines and a Pussycat Dolls lounge at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. A second lounge is scheduled to open in West Hollywood this fall, and more are planned.

"You want to keep the train moving," says Roberts, employing a metaphor that several bandmates use to describe their momentum. "Albums (aren't selling) the way they used to, so we're trying to evolve and touch people in as many ways as we can."

If the Pussycat Dolls are professionally pragmatic, they're also creatively ambitious. Each member has a solo track on the deluxe edition of "Domination," and all concede that they see the group partly as a launching pad and are keen to eventually pursue their own paths. Scherzinger's solo album was delayed after single "Baby Love" and other club and download tracks failed to produce sufficient buzz. Four songs originally intended for that project are on "Domination."

"Knock on wood, it will come out next year," Scherzinger says. "I'm honored that my songs were put on the Dolls' album, and I feel like I'm building a foundation."

Sutta wants to record a dance album, while Roberts would love to act in romantic comedies. Melody Thornton, 24, will "focus on music," and Kimberly Wyatt, 26, is writing a book about her life and starting a website "where I'll put my blogs, poetry and art."

Rolling deputy editor Caryn Ganz suspects that some Dolls may have an easier time forging individual careers than others. "Nicole is obviously the talent of the group," she says. "I'm sure there are little girls who follow them all, but I can't name the other girls. You knew who all the Spice Girls were."

In conversation, at least, the Dolls articulate a clearer, more serious-minded definition of girl power than their '90s predecessors did. Only two of them, Scherzinger and Roberts, have boyfriends, and Sutta, Wyatt and Thornton are eager to dispel the notion that all single women are dissatisfied. "To me, you're born into this world alone, and you leave it alone," says Thornton, who is "abstinent."

"I don't understand the concept of trying to find someone else to complete you."

Each Doll wants marriage and children down the line. "Once this is all done, I would love to settle down and have, like, 10 or 20 babies," Sutta says.

For now, Sutta is content to juggle her "four girlfriends — the (other) Pussycat Dolls," and feel maternal warmth for her young fans.

"When you see those little girls looking up at you, you know exactly why you're there — because you were that little girl at one point. I know I'm standing for them."