Her Hit Tune Clones the Tones of Madonna, but Regina Swears She's Not Just a Knockoff

updated 08/25/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/25/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

She sounds like Madonna. She wears oversize earrings like Madonna. She styles her hair like vintage Madonna. Some radio listeners have even mistakenly identified her as Madonna. In truth, her name is Regina (no last name, just like Madonna). And she doesn't know what all the talk is about. "You're the only one who has ever said my video reminds them of Madonna," says Regina, whose wide-eyed look is genuine.

Clone charges aside, Regina's dance hit Baby Love is scaling the charts, and her video commands heavy rotation on Madonna's marketing turf, MTV. Her partner on the soundalike single is one of Madonna's producers and ex-lovers, Steve Bray, who produced and co-wrote the song with Regina. She first met Bray and Madonna at a New York recording complex. "We'd go by each other's rooms and say, 'Hi, how's it going?' The typical music stuff," she says.

Like Madonna at the outset, Regina, 25, is working on the perks of pop packaging. She arrives at photo shoots with an entourage, including one adviser on posing. She already employs a clothing coach. All this for concerts that last 15 minutes and consist of three songs. Primed as well as primped for success, Regina does up to three shows a night in as many clubs, exercising her voice in a limo between venues.

Regina Richards wasn't always a solo act with a single name. Born and raised in Manhattan, she did the club circuit in 1978 with her group, Regina and the Redhots. After five years, the group disbanded for the usual reasons: artistic differences. With an album out later this month, Regina will soon reveal a mode other than that of Madonna, she insists. "People have mentioned that I sound like her, but I've been working on my career since 1978, so I don't worry about people saying I'm jumping on a bandwagon."

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