July 30, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

Five years ago, college student Jake Shears was wiggling his undies-clad butt for dollar-clutching horndogs in a New York City wormhole appropriately called I.C. Guys. Five weeks ago, his electro-glam quintet the Scissor Sisters — an earnestly campy crew whose outre costumes and sweeping pop songs recall early Elton John — was opening for the knight himself (a devoted fan) when Shears unintentionally gave an all-new peep show to 25,000 mystified English fogies. ”My trousers burst open and my d — -fell out,” sighs Shears, 24. ”So I walked over to my drum tech and had him stick a big piece of gaffer tape on my crotch. I had a total ”Velvet Goldmine” moment.”

Such over-the-top shenanigans are what make the Scissor Sisters so damn fun. They’ve built a devoted European following over the past year with dazzling live shows, and their just-released debut album mixes new wave, power pop, disco, and a bumping cover of Pink Floyd’s ”Comfortably Numb,” which recently hit the top of the British music charts. Their first Stateside single, ”Take Your Mama,” is a VH1 staple, and Shears hopes that the U.S. is finally ready for the Scissors’ genre-busting gems. ”The American music industry would have no clue what to do with us without somebody showing them,” says Shears. ”But I think we have a chance. My mom is hearing `Take Your Mama’ at the gym.” We.C. Success!

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