In 1996, when British girl group
the Spice Girls released their debut single, “Wannabe,” in the
U.K., I was 15 years old — and consequently just the wrong age
to get the most out of them. I was too old to look up to them adoringly
as my very own set of bright, color-coded, life-size dolls (which I
think is how a lot of their youngest female fans viewed them). And I
was too young to just enjoy their music for the cheesy pop that it was,
without caring about the fact that they were never, ever going to be
I was also just a bit too young,
and a bit too closeted, to enjoy the lesbianish potential of five feisty
women jumping around in their music videos and holding each other’s
hands. Thankfully, with the passage of time, I’ve become totally unashamed
about the fact that I like their music. Here’s one of my favorites
of theirs, “Who Do You Think You Are”:
I’ve also become what some people
might describe as excessively alert to the lesbianish potential in anything.
Having said that, I do think there
were times when the girls were throwing in a bit of subtext deliberately.
Check out the look that Geri gives Emma near the end of this video,
and tell me they’re not singing to each other:
The big question about the Spice
Girls, of course, was always “Which one’s your favorite?” Even
when I was 15, and officially not interested in them, I had given
this subject a bit of thought. Ginger wore too much makeup and looked
too much like a drag queen (at that point, it hadn’t occurred to me
that this could be a good thing); I was missing the lesbian sports gene,
so that ruled out Sporty Spice; Scary was too loud and in-your-face.
I quite liked Baby, but she was a bit too cutesy; so that left Posh,
who I’ll admit I thought was pretty gorgeous, especially once she
cut her hair and stopped wearing heavy makeup.
If I’d known that she was going
to turn into a stick-thin, tanorexic, robotic-looking fashionista with
fake boobs, I might have reconsidered this choice:
But maybe I would have been in the
wrong. Because one of the most interesting things about Spice Girls:
Giving You Everything — an hour-long documentary on the group’s
reunion, aired last month in the U.K. — is that Victoria
probably comes across as the most likeable one of the lot.
Here’s a promo for the documentary:
A combination of archive clips and
new interviews, the program basically provided a walkthrough history
of the Spice Girls, from the very beginning to the present day. It followed
the girls responding to an ad in an entertainment magazine, breaking
away from their early management team, achieving their first No.
1 with “Wannabe,” speedy world domination (including meetings with
Prince Charles and Nelson Mandela), followed by Geri leaving the band
in 1998, and the eventual breakup in 2001.
Among the interesting facts to emerge
from the program was that Geri, unlike the other four, had never had
any stage-school training — and so she apparently struggled with the
more complicated dance moves (although she seemed to be doing pretty
well to me when they showed her in rehearsal for the reunion tour).
In interviews, most of the others
therefore took a practical approach to her early exit, saying that the
band carried on without her, and perhaps even was able to do fancier
things without her. But Victoria was adamant that that wasn’t all
that mattered: “It was never the same when she left. And other members
might say, ‘Oh, it was great, we could do more complicated dance moves,
we could sing more’, it’s like … that’s not what we were about.
We were about a vibe, we were about five girls.”
Shown in preparation for their first
live reunion concert (on Dec. 2, 2007 in Vancouver), Victoria said,
“I think out of all the girls it’s myself and Geri who probably
appreciate being in the group more than anybody. Not because of the
music, but literally just on a personal level, about having our friends
around us.” She added, “the fact that I’m back with the girls …
I think I’m gonna cry through the whole thing. Cause I am genuinely
happy, to be back and have that support around me.”
The word “support” reinforces
a suspicion I’ve always had — that it’s probably not altogether
easy being Posh Spice.
Personally, I’d be happy
to give her all the support she needs — but what about the rest of you?
Are you excited about the reunion, or did you not even like them that
much the first time round? Who’s your favorite Spice Girl?