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    Washington big-wigs

    "Snatches" is a guilty pleasure in which we spy on two actresses as they re-enact the girl talk on the Lewinsky-Tripp tapes.


    Meet Monica and Linda. Oh, you've already met? That's right, you lived with Monica and Linda for more than a year. Then you've already heard endlessly about the thong, the dress, the stain, the pizza party, the blowjobs, the tapes, the betrayal, the impeachment.

    Who wants to live through that again?

    Well, you might want to — in the form of a guilty pleasure called "Snatches," in which two actresses re-enact conversations from the infamous Linda Tripp tapes. Stripped of politics and prosecutions, the dialogue boils down to good old-fashioned girl talk in which the topic of hairstyling looms as big as broken hearts and why never to date married men and catty comments about the other women in the White House and manipulative calculations about what federal pay grade Monica should demand from "butthead" as the price for going away.

    Written and directed by: Laura Strausfeld.
    Cast: Patricia A. Chilsen, Jean Taylor, Edward Connors, Jonathan Lopez.
    "Linda," insists an exasperated Monica in one late-night call, "if I ever want to have an affair with a married man again — especially if he's president — will you just shoot me?"

    "Listen," Linda says after a little scolding, "why don't you just fuck your father and get it over with?"

    In another Freudian moment, Linda sympathizes with Monica's mistreatment and says, "I just want to kick him in the nuts so they flatten into pancakes and he can never use them again."

    "Oh, Linda," a comforted Monica answers, "I almost called you mom."

    I'd like to find some refined, high-minded reason to recommend "Snatches" — like, maybe, it gives the women's point of view on the presidential affair, or it shows the humanity of the people in the news. But primarily it's an exercise in shameless voyeurism.

    And writer-director Laura Strausfeld knows it. The staging is coy, with the actresses positioned sideways or upside-down, pretzeled around their furniture as they talk on the phone, as if we're spying on them from the ceiling or the floor or the wall. This could be a comment on us as media-watching voyeurs or on the investigators as badge-carrying voyeurs — and really, how much difference was there in this case?

    Either way, we get the feeling of spying on the whole sordid episode. Big-wigged actresses Patricia Chilsen and Jean Taylor romp breezily through the conversations with their faces almost never fully revealed, adding to the fly-on-the-wall effect. Meanwhile, their intent, serious, I'm-here-for-you-girlfriend tone is punctuated by dreamy erotic hairdressing tango sequences with the two male stagehands who double as sexy hairstylists.

    Personally, after working at a sensationalist New York tabloid through the entire scandal, I never need to think about the Monica episode again. But the tapes make much better theater than news, now the story is more Oprah than Cokie. The show is a lot more fun than the madness that these tapes spawned.

    AUGUST 16, 2001

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