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Flash photography: a closer look at the stars

Oops, she did it again. And again. And again.

Britney Spears, apparently on strike against underwear, has flashed her girly bits to throngs of paparazzi a whopping three times in one week.

Paris Hilton, Spears' new BFF, is also a repeat offender. Lindsay Lohan, Hilton's archrival/BFF, depending on the day, has "forgotten" to wear bum coverings on several times - once while deboarding a sailboat on a windy day.

Are crotch slips the new black?

The once titillating "nip slip" is old hat. After Janet Jackson flashed her bejeweled breast to millions of Chex Mix-eating Americans during halftime, our shock threshold shot through the roof.

Gossip bloggers leech onto crotch shots like they're the last pair of $19.99 Diesel jeans at Filene's Basement.

Perez Hilton, Hollywood blogger du jour, has posted Lohan and Spears shots on his Web site. He wrote this under photos of Spears flashing her nether region at a Malibu gas station: "It's becoming harder and harder for her fans to defend her disgusting and un-motherly behavior."

Likewise, on a blog called I Dont Like You In That Way, one blogger wrote, "If you're a Britney fan, this week must feel like Armageddon."

On a recent episode of The View, host Rosie O'Donnell quipped, "I want to beg Victoria's Secret to supply these three women for an unlimited amount of underwear. I'm begging you! Victoria! They need to be kept a secret down there."

Crotch slips are icky. They're rude. They're unladylike. But boy, do we look. Perez Hilton reported having 3.97-million people view his site on Nov. 29 - he gave a special shout-out to Brit's bits.

Why the intrigue?

Spears and Lohan and Hilton are "that girl" from high school. Popular, pretty, wealthy.

At senior prom, "that girl" is tipsy and booty dancing near the punch bowl to Total Eclipse of the Heart. Hours later, she's bent over, worshiping the porcelain god in the ladies' room.

You feel for her - you really do. You want to cradle her in your arms, hold back her ratty hair extensions and uncover her deep, psychological reasons for acting like a reject from the Moonlite Bunny Ranch.

Instead, you call your friends over to watch. You take pictures. You may even circulate the pictures the next day.

That's the crotch slip effect. We're appalled, but we still e-mail the Web links to our friends, "NOT SUITABLE FOR WORK" in the subject line.

Could the slips be desperate publicity stunts? Maybe. In an age when having sex on tape can skyrocket you to megastardom, anything is possible.

Kind of makes you yearn for the days of Marilyn Monroe standing on the air grate, coyly holding down her dress to cover her horse blanket granny panties.

Or does it? Because, after all, would we really e-mail that picture around to our friends?

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at (813) 269-5303 or