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Friday, 11 May, 2001, 10:05 GMT 11:05 UK
Naked ambition hits Cannes
Swedish Bikini Team
The Swedish Bikini Team made a splash at the beach
BBC News Online's Rebecca Thomas finds a bevy of bare bodies as budding stars flock to Cannes' seafront in search of fame.

If there is a lesson to be learnt from the third day at Cannes, it is that we should never underestimate the power of exhibitionism - and especially where it concerns naked flesh.

As the usual round of respectable photo shoots went on at Le Palais - for films in the official and mainstream sections - along the beachfront, a set of more upfront headline-seekers were causing a stir of their own.

Take four young blonde Scandinavian women, wearing hardly more than fixed grins, strutting along the seafront and just imagine the consequences.

It mattered little that they were trying to publicise their Charlie's Angels-style action movie Never Say... Never Mind, which was yet to find a distributor.

Cannes barmen
Cannes barmen: Making the wine flow freely
All the photographers - who seemed to appear from nowhere - wanted was that double-take shot.

And within a matter of minutes, the girls, who call themselves the Swedish Bikini Team (or SBT), had also acquired a huge gawping entourage - in which I, of course, have to include myself.

Throughout this circus the girls persevered in their mission, talking continuously about their film and the merits of being female, blonde and Swedish.

"Swedish women are different, we look harmless but we're not," said one. This may have been some kind of veiled warning to any would-be gropers.

Yet, I had the distinct feeling that looking at SBT, rather than listening to them, was all that was on most of their audience's mind.

Former Buffy star Kristy Swanson
All smiles: Former Buffy star Kristy Swanson
The girls sauntered away in search of fame. I went off to look for a more salubrious spectacle, befitting the cultural traditions of the festival.

But, everyone it seemed was in the same "make me a star" frame of mind as SBT.

First, there were the two barmen from a beach restaurant earning applause for a potentially costly trick of hurling full wine boxes at each other. Their excuse was that this was a speedier method of unloading.

Down on the beach, however, something far more worthy of attention was going on - or so the excited voices suggested.

The recognisable yell of a frenzied paparazzi pack gave the game away and on closer inspection, the centre of the fuss revealed itself as yet another blonde female.

The Knutsson Brothers
The Knutsson Brothers: Streaking down the street
This time it was former Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Kristy Swanson, holding a photo shoot to promote her thriller Soul Assasin - also without a distributor.

She was wearing more clothes than SBT. But the snappers soon tried to get her to take some off. "Kristy take off your jacket!" throttled one. Another, took a dislike to long, black platform boots. "Get your wellies off!" he boomed.

Swanson did not. But she was wonderfully obliging in striking whatever pose the photographers wanted, smiling coyly and not uttering a sound.

Heading off, things went from the mildly titillating to obscene. Parked amidst the ranks of the stalls selling things like jewellery and paintings screamed an unseemly table of wood carvings.

Naked dash

The master of these pieces - a little grey-haired old man - looked innocent enough. But his handiwork had produced a set of very rough-and-ready busty nudes.

These females definitely needed to be covered up, which is precisely what the carver did when he caught me trying to take a snap.

Not so coy, however, were two actors who put the cherry on the cake of this catalogue of immodesty.

In the last two days, The Knutsson Brothers - again Swedish - have been waging a naked war on the designer-clad occupants of Cannes, to promote their movie Naked Again.

After posing in the altogether for press photos on Wednesday, they announced they were intending to run in the buff, as fast as they could, down La Croisette the next day.

And, just my luck, as I was about to cross the street - there they were. Their Neanderthal dash was certainly speedy.

So fast, that I didn't have time to take a snap. But, all things considered, it is probably just as well.


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