Peru's answer to La Cicciolina strips for action

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On The Face of it, President Alberto Fujimori and Congresswoman Susy Diaz do not have a lot in common.

For one thing, Mr Fujimori is not a peroxide blonde. As far as is known, he was never a nightclub stripper. Nor did he ever bare his backside during his election campaign.

His party is not named after the male sexual organ and it does not campaign for the rights of transvestites or witch doctors. Nor is Mr Fujimori currently in New York, promoting a new disc entitled "I will touch your ----" Well, let's just call it your instrument.

When they want something badly enough, however, like the Incas who once inhabited their land, both Mr Fujimori and Ms Diaz have been known to bathe in the holy waters of the Huaringas lagoon in the Peruvian Andes. And come the year 2,000, both may be running for the presidency of their country.

"One proposes, God disposes," Ms Diaz, 31, told me, citing a Spanish- language proverb, when I asked her to confirm rumours that she will run for the highest office in the land. "But there are so many problems - hunger, unemployment, I don't aspire to take that on right now. I want to send a message through my songs."

These include "I will play your trumpet", a highly suggestive double entendre in Peruvian Spanish slang. Also on her first disc, which she is promoting in a New York salsadromo (salsa concert hall) this weekend, are a couple of songs with a deeper message, such as "Sida te da sidas", which has confused most Peruvians but appears to mean something like "Aids will stick it to you if you stick it to somebody".

And then there's "Don't kill your son", which the former showgirl described as "an anti-abortion protest song. I'm a Catholic. It's important to get the message across."

It was no accident that Ms Diaz was dubbed "Peru's Cicciolina", after the former Italian porn star-cum-congresswoman, Ilona Staller, when she ran and was elected to Congress a year ago. "She and Madonna are my heros," Ms Diaz said.

She was elected as candidate of the Independent Agrarian Movement, although many who voted for her confessed they were impressed less by her concern for the land and more by the fact that she lifted her miniskirt during the campaign to reveal a finely shaped buttock with the tattooed number 13 - her number on the ballot sheet.

"She's a babe, what can I tell you," said Emilio Faucett, a Lima student who drives a taxi cab in the evenings. "People won't forget Susy Diaz," added her 44-year-old businessman husband, Percy.

Emilio said he was not concerned by the fact that she quit the Agrarian Party and formed her own, called Palo, which ostensibly means "stick" but is more often used to describe the male organ.

"It's an acronym for Partido Autentico para la Lucha Organisada [Authentic Party for Organised Struggle]," she assured me. "The stick is a symbol of our struggle against corruption. We are fighting for the rights of transvestites, traditional doctors and other minorities."