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Fear a high school reunion? Hire a stripper

By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Comedy writer Andrea Wachner hated the idea of going to her 10-year high school reunion so much that she hired a stripper to go instead, and what followed, she says, was a comical study in human nature.

Her story is detailed in a nearly 40-minute documentary directed by Wachner that, because of issues surrounding its length and getting approval to show it from former classmates, may never be seen -- not even by her parents.

But the 31-year-old Los Angeles resident said on Friday she hopes it will someday and even if not, Hollywood already has come knocking on her door.

She has written a feature film script based on her story, is trying to sell a reality TV show from it, has appeared on cable news channel CNN, and is scheduled to be on ABC's morning chat show "Good Morning America" next week.

"I've been so lucky throughout this whole experience. Everything that could go wrong, went right," she told Reuters. "I love the way it all turned out."

But some of her classmates don't.

"There have been a few people that were pretty vitriolic, and I have received some angry letters," she said.

In 1995, Wachner graduated from Palos Verdes Peninsula High School in an upscale Los Angeles-area neighborhood and never looked back. She left for New York City, where she attended New York University, graduating in 2000.

When she received the invitation to attend her 10-year reunion, she said she would not have dreamed of going because she hated her years at the school, where BMW and Mercedes-Benz cars were prized possessions.

DRINKING, DRAMA AND DANCE

She claims that at school, fellow students' drinking alcohol was a problem and eating disorders were common. She said academic competition was tight and the overall environment was "a pressure cooker."

Wachner didn't want to go back to all that, but she did want to see how people would react if the self-described "drama geek" showed up a changed woman -- a stripper, no less.

So, she hired Amy Bernadette "Cricket" Russell, whom she met at a Los Angeles strip club, to impersonate her. Cricket showed up in a slinky dress, fishnet hose and spike heels.

As the drinks flowed, Cricket's clothes came off, and Wachner watched from a hotel room above the event, linked to her impersonator via wireless radio, TV cameras and a monitor.

Wachner coached Cricket through the night, telling her the names of people she met and providing her with little secrets that only Wachner and her former classmates would know.

Judging from the film's promotional trailer, which can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbRuKbOSqao a few people may have been fooled and a few were not. Andrea -- make that Cricket -- got one invitation for a private performance.

Wachner said she did not set out to embarrass or make fun of classmates. Rather, she wanted to see how they would react if their old stereotype of Wachner as a "drama geek" was turned upside down, when she emerged from the cocoon of high school as an uninhibited artist and exotic dancer.

"I love taking things that exist in the world as given -- things that are mainstream, notions that people take for granted -- and making people re-think them," she said.

While she may not be as big a name as Web sensation Susan Boyle, who skyrocketed to fame this month after a video of her appearance on "Britain's Got Talent" went viral online, Wachner is nevertheless overjoyed with the outcome.

And why not? Palos Verdes Peninsula High is a distant memory, and now Hollywood beckons.

(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis)

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