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Divinyls' 'I Touch Myself' raises cancer awareness in memory of Chrissy Amphlett

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The super-suggestive “I Touch Myself” was Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame group Divinyls biggest hit, topping the charts at home and reaching No. 4 in the U.S. in 1991.

But it’s taking on a new meaning now that friends and fans of late Divinyls vocalist Chrissy Amphlett have turned it into a breast cancer awareness anthem.

The beloved artist died a year ago after fighting both the disease and multiple sclerosis. She was 53, and had been diagnosed with cancer in 2010; she had reportedly received negative mammogram and ultrasound results, but insisted on a biopsy after self-examination.

Now Australian advocacy group Cancer Council NSW (New South Wales), in cooperation with Amphlett's husband Charley Drayton and other supporters, has created a video campaign based on a mostly a cappella version of the song sung by 10 Australian female stars. They include breast cancer survivor Olivia Newton-John, ARIA female Artist of the Year winners Sarah Blasko and Megan Washington, Baby Animals singer Suze DeMarchi, and ARIA Hall of Fame inductee Little Pattie, who is Amphlett’s cousin Patricia Amphlett.

The others are Connie Mitchell, Deborah Conway, Kate Cerebrano, Katie Noonan and Sarah McLeod. Many also have interviews regarding the project at Amphlett's YouTube channel.

According to the Cancer Council, Amphlett wanted “I Touch Myself” to be used as a reminder for all women to check themselves regularly for lumps and other signs of breast cancer. Indeed, on the itouchmyself.org website, she’s quoted saying, “'I Touch Myself' is so appropriate now, more than ever. You know, it really should be the breast cancer song."

As noted on the site, the song “celebrates female sexuality like no other. Like Chrissy it is bold brave and brassy. It rocked our world. And when Chrissy developed breast cancer, it was a song she wanted to become an anthem for spreading awareness about the importance of touching ourselves for early detection of the disease.”

"Chrissy voiced it clearly,” Drayton says on the site. “She wished for all women to be mindful of themselves when they heard the tune—to be good to themselves, inside and out."

Amphlett co-wrote “I Touch Myself” with her Divinyls partner Mark McEntee and Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg. The surviving writers and Sony/ATV Music Publishing allowed Clive Young, who wrote and recorded many songs with Amphlett, to arrange and produce the new version with the 10 artists, who were taped live and with no edits in Sydney and Los Angeles by top Australian commercial directors Daniel Askill, Lorin Askill and Joel Pront.

The arresting black-and-white video shows everyone apparently topless, with the camera panning down at the end on the bare chest of breast cancer survivor Sali Stevanja, co-founder of Australia’s online women’s activewear company Stylerunner, who is scarred by her double mastectomy.

“It’s very important for all women--especially people like us who have breast cancer in the family,” said Little Pattie, in one of several brief interview videos accompanying the new “I Touch Myself,” which can also be viewed at Amphlett's YouTube channel.

Breast cancer survivor Newton-John, in her video, said, “I was very moved to sing Chrissy Amphlett’s song because I always loved the song when I heard it on the radio. I thought she was really bold to sing the song, and now of course it’s taken on a totally different meaning--and I love the whole reason behind doing this song.”

The new "I Touch Myself" recording is available for digital purchase, with proceeds going to Cancer Council NSW. Additionally, an exhibition of unpublished images of Amphlett’s life and career is at the Blender Gallery in Paddington, New South Wales, with proceeds from print purchases also going to the Cancer Council.

“Listen to your instincts and feel what may be going on inside you,” Drayton says on the site. “Check your schedule. Make a play date. And don’t forget to touch yourself.”

He concludes: “Touch yourself for Chrissy.”

Subscribe to my examiner.com pages and jimbessman.com website, and follow me on Twitter @JimBessman.

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