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The spot opens with a funky '70s track as a sexy Asian brunette in tight denims hops into a New York cab. She begins to powder her face to the delight of the slimy cabbie, who eyes her through the rear-view mirror as he lewdly gnaws a toothpick. Suddenly, she whips out a portable razor and shaves her chin. Disgusted, the cabbie drops the drag queen at a disco, as "she" sashays off with a mocking smile. The tag: "Levi's 501s. Cut for men since 1850."

Directed by Baillie Walsh of Limelight, the spot is part of a campaign from Bartle Bogle Hegarty, London, that spins product benefits into quirky tales. Picking an authentic transvestite to play the part, explains writer Roger Beckett, who teamed with AD Andy Smart, was in keeping with the Levi's theme of celebrating individualism. "We wanted to be honest about that," Beckett says, adding that the androgynous talent, Zaldy, a New Yorker of Filipino and Chinese descent, gave the spot "a little bit more of a shelf life."

Anther spot, directed by French director Michel Gondry through Partisan Pictures, London, tells the humorous story of a teen in 1930s Texas who uses his watch pocket to hide condoms. When he picks up his date, though, he realizes the store owner who sold him the rubbers is her dad.

Other credits to art director John Gorse, writer Nick Worthington, CD John Hegarty and producer Philippa Crane. Music by a British band called Freak Power.

Making the rounds of the hip magazines right now is this threadless surfwear ad, the first of a series shot by Spencer Tunick for New York agency Grybauskas Beatrice and Killer Loop, a division of Benetton, that is showing just a bit too much hip for some publishers. Hence the censored version with the airbrushed bikini bottom, which was not the result of advanced ass covering. 'We had no idea we were going to have trouble with it,' says Loop director Randy Pearlman.

Agency credits to exec CD Roland Grybauskas, CD/AD Danny Jue and writer Hank Stewart

Bet you never expected to hear George Page, the godlike voice of "Nature," in a sneaker commercial, but that was before Fila had a shoe called the Mantis, which, to the intrepid FCB/Leber Katz, New York team of writer Robby Austin and AD Sam Gulisano suggested some nasty nature footage of the mating habits of the praying mantis-you know, the female does this ultra Lorena number and bites off the male's head. But here, thanks to the Flame at Charlex, the male dons four tiny Mantis shoes and gets his thorax the hell out of there, all to the cool Darwinian commentary of "Nature" boy George.

"We weren't sure we could get him," says Gulisano, "but we knew he'd be the perfect link. He wanted script approval, but when he saw the board he had no problem with it." All the mantis footage, it turns out, is the real thing, collected from various stock sources and digitally finessed into a seamless, color-matched whole.

So how about a "Nature" series? "Maybe Fila will name its next shoe the Wasp,"

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