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Last Updated: Friday, 23 June 2006, 08:39 GMT 09:39 UK
Soccer fans put best cheek forward
By Laura Smith-Spark
BBC News, Kaiserslauten

Body-painting model Selina
Selina will walk painted through the town to advertise the art
World Cup fans have embraced face- and body-painting like never before in Germany.

At every game, thousands of fans display their team's colours. While some opt for a small flag painted on the cheek, others go for something more eye-catching.

Many use small packs of transfers or face paints - on sale everywhere in Germany's black, red and gold - with varying results.

But for body artist Anja Purkel, the tournament is preparation for her own 'World Cup' - the World Body-painting Championships in Austria next month.

At the contest in Seeboden, some 180 artists from 40 nations will compete with brush, sponge and airbrush to create the best designs in front of an audience of 25,000.

In the meantime, scores of fans every day are having their faces, arms and torsos decorated with Anja's handiwork.

'Just for fun'

At Kaiserslautern's Fan Fest, volunteer model Selina, 20, was painted in Brazil's colours, ready for the team's match against Japan in Dortmund.

"She will walk round the town and then go to a disco, staying like this all night," says Anja, 35, a professional make-up artist.

Australia fan
Some designs are more discreet
"People always ask the same questions - is she cold, will the paint smudge, will she be able to wash the colour off, does she feel naked?

"And the men, of course, offer to help her wash it off."

Asked why she does it, Selina replies: "For fun - I don't feel naked because I have colour on me. If you go to the swimming pool people only look at certain parts of you.

"But when you are painted they look at the whole person. It's a kind of art."

Selina's stroll through town - accompanied by two male 'bodyguards' with painted torsos - is intended both to advertise the fan painting and provide entertainment for the many visitors.

When the US played Italy in Kaiserslautern on Saturday, one model was turned out as the Statue of Liberty, made up in stars and stripes, while another walked round painted in the blue of Italy's "Azzurri".

Anja and husband Thomas Kaipf have also done fan painting in Munich and Nuremberg, where they are based.

Of course, most fans go for something a little more discreet than Selina.

And at one euro ($1.3) for a flag on the cheek or 15 euros for a torso painting, it is definitely cheaper than a replica kit.

No touching

Perhaps the biggest demand from fans came when Australia played Japan, says Anja.

"The Australians all wanted their flag done," says Anja.

"Some of the men took off their shirts and had their tops painted. We did maybe 200 faces that day.

"They were great, they were really nice people."

Thomas adds: "They all asked if they could take pictures but they didn't touch the girls. The Germans all try to put their hands on them."

The Trinidad and Tobago crowd in Kaiserslautern for the match against Paraguay were also enthusiastic about the body painting, he says.

"They came down from the stadium and when they saw the girl in Trinidad and Tobago colours they were all taking pictures - there were a thousand flashes."

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