Maybe it's entertainment to the fans, but to the Laker Girls it's a chance to be noticed by Hollywood career makers. For $45 a show, they enhance the Lakers' home-court advantage with seven energy-sparked routines. Donna Perkins, a five-year member of the dance team, and its current choreographer, takes her job seriously. "I want the crowd to realize we're professional dancers," she says, "and to appreciate how hard we work." Indeed, the 15-member team practices six hours a week during basketball season. One source of inspiration is perhaps the most famous Laker Girl alum, Paula Abdul, who went on to choreograph award-winning videos for Janet Jackson and other rock stars. This year's team also includes Suzie Hardy, Mary Oedy, Staci Stewart and Julie Wasti. Asked to pick from a collection of Los Angeles-designed evening wear, the dancers just couldn't resist choosing colors and styles with an extra kick.
Photographed by Raul Vega at Patriotic Hall Gym, Los Angeles; styling by Claude Deloffre and Beth Bickson/Celestine-Cloutier; hair and makeup by Cochise/Visages Style, Keoni/Cloutier and Deborah Howell/Cloutier.