MAGAZINE: GROWL POWER
She's got it. Success? She's mad for it. Sex? She's UN
Goodwill Ambassador for it. loaded hounds Geri Halliwell to
see if her
bite is as good as her bark.
GERI HALLIWELL IS NOT QUITE what you might expect her to be.
Weighing no more than a scant eight stone and standing a reedy
feet two, her breasts look a Iittle too large for her tiny
frame. Hit on
something even half funny and it's"Ha-ha-ha, ho-ho-ho,
Bounce, bounce, bounce.
We are talking about what bothers Geri. I tell her she looks
invulnerable I can't imagine much of anything getting to her.
"I don't like
to be ignored, she says. 'I always want someone who takes an
what I'm doing. Put it this way, my last boyfriend five years
literally was watching the football and totally ignoring me.
I'd walk around
in my underwear and it was like he didn't even blink. That
but that's on a physical level."
Geri is a curious, near-unfathomable mix of the gushingly
the blatantly artificial. Inventory-wise, we should begin at
her heels. They
add several false but vital inches to her. We move up her legs
- real but
a little chunky in the way that dancers' legs tend to be.
Finally we come
to her face. Many hundreds of tabloid column inches have been
to discussing Geri's face. Insults, piss-takes and life's
you feel, would bounce clean off a face like that.
Today she is a honey blonde. With the Spice Girls, Geri was
flaming redhead. Ginger Spice, the spiciest of the Spice
Girls. In the
past, when she posed for glamour shots in Spain, she was a
Her eyes are a washed denim blue, which goes well with the
They are cheerleader eyes. Her face draws to a neat little
point. At times
this makes her look like Minnie Mouse; at others like some
shark. Her lips are her best characteristic - a composite of
and Muhammad Ali - and her teeth seem to be the ones used in
'Plus White' Colgate ads.
Geri pouts and smiles and giggles and talks. She talks - and
talks. And then some. She could talk for Britain and, indeed,
was in the Spice Girls she did just that, slagging off the
currency, waving and wearing the Union Jack. Now that she is
talks for the world. She is UN Goodwill Ambassador for sex
an odd occupation for a self- confessed boot-strap Thatcherite.
that's Geri. A welter of contradictions held precariously
together by a
tenacious belief in her own untouchable rightness. You need to
to hold all this ricocheting madness in. To make it all make
fierce. And Geri is fierce. I am Geri, hear me roar.
"I AM ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO HAS HAD TO WORK VERY HARD
FOR everything I've achieved. I never had opportunity handed
to me on
a plate. I would create the opportunity. I believe in
enterprise. At school
I'd create my own drama team, I was head of a charity
there, I come from an all-girls school and I'd talk about AIDS
which was a bit 'Oh' at that time. So I would always kick off
my own thing.
I wasn't the brightest student there and I wasn't the
naughtiest, but I was
probably one of the most determined. All the books I've read
determination comes from the inside."
Geri is, depending on where you stand on these things, either
or the beneficiary of a thousand and one self-help books. At
when she launches into one of her
possessed. She tells you what she wants, what she really,
Everything has taken second place to what Geri wants,
group that spawned her. "I haven't had a proper boyfriend
years," she says matter-of-factly. "The main reason
at the moment is
because I was writing this album. I made a pledge to myself
wouldn't be romantically linked with anybody because sex
creativity. Too much sex tends to get in the way. I wanted to
drop into this album, but it does, it distracts me. The same
falling in love. Dating someone, that whole male distraction.
I went on a
fast to make sure that you're getting real value in there. I
sex for a long time."
Do you miss sex? "Well, yes and no. I mean, I'm not
taking some kind of
vow of celibacy. You don't know what's around the corner. I
consciously choosing not to fall in love because I felt it
would get in the
way of things. But I'm 26 now. I think the whole love thing is
Your body clock is ticking and you are looking for someone to
This single-mindedness has led Geri to believe that anyone
with a bit of
vision and gumption can be rich, successful and happy. It's
her a Thatcherite, and it's what made her describe Margaret
as "the first Spice Girl". "I believe in the
grass roots upwards," says Geri,
attempting to explain her politics. "I really do. I think
we blame society,
we blame our government, we blame Presidents and Prime
but ultimate responsibility lies with yourself. It's up to
Whinging won't get anyone anywhere. I think your life lies on
believe you have responsibility for your own self. If you want
and you work for it you'll get it. Basically my father was an
Thatcherite and he brought me up on that. She was a
daughter and she rose to lead this country, which was
no one can take that away from her. I love enterprise. I love
anyone with self-belief can make it. 'Cos I believe you can if
The flip-side of all this is that if you don't succeed it's
your own damned
fault. I ask Geri if she would apply her philosophy to the
children she is attempting to help in her role as UN
generalising," she concedes, a little reluctantly.
"I'm saying us in the
Western World. Maybe I'm thinking on a more humanitarian level
you. The way we treat people in the Third World countries
isn't good. So
obviously a starving little girl hasn't got much say in what
What I meant is that we all have responsibility in how we
people. When I was greeted by this group of women in Uganda,
little village they had their own literacy camp - and they are
try to learn to read and write, even though they have no
supplies and no
money, and they are choosing to try to help themselves. We all
do that to a point. Maybe I'm an idealistic dreamer."
GERI'S BANK ACCOUNT SPEAKS VOLUMES about the benefits of
believing in your own myth. She is estimated to have something
million [pds] in the bank. She will never be poor. Poverty is
that Geri came from. She rightly, adamantly, refuses to go
back. It's all
very '80s, but then Geri is very much a product of that
politics (anarcho-Conservative), her New-Ageisms and her taste
music all belong to a time of red braces, black ash furniture
by Stock, Aitken and Waterrnan.
We meet at the tail end of a long photo-shoot. Geri, who has
her image once again, is reluctant to wear some of the things
O'Neill, the photographer, is suggesting she wears. She does
to look sexy or submissive or anything else that might get in
the way of
the new look. The new look is Madonna - that's Madonna, Mary,
Of God, so far as I can tell, and not Madonna the singer. She
always set her sights high, has Geri. So no dog collars, no
suspenders, nothing that might distract from Geri's saintly
visage. I can't
say I blame her. This image thing is a big deal in Geri's
the biggest deal. Certainly the Spice Girl's success had as
much to do
with their look and carefully styled attitude as it did with
"I just don't feel right with that image of myself any
more," she explains
almost apologetically. You did some glamour modelling, did you
was a long while ago," she smiles. "Basically I was
a rave dancer in a
funky club in Majorca. The girl I was sharing the flat with
was very tall
and she had her picture taken. She did topless things and they
quite nice, not tacky. Someone told me I should try glamour
They said you don't have to be tall and its great money. I
thought it was
as good a way as any to pay the bills. It was not glamorous,
don't know where they got that name from - there was nothing
glamorous standing naked in the studio freezing cold. It was
did, not something I planned - part of me felt
Geri was always the raunchiest of the five girls. When the Sun
readers to vote for their favourite Spice Girl, Geri received
overwhelming amount of votes, most of them from pre-pubescent
and teenage boys. Sex sells, and Geri was an excellent
"There's nothing wrong if a man wants to get off on
looking at pictures of
me. It's his prerogative. But I wasn't thinking of guys
whacking off, even
when I was doing the glamour stuff. I think it's quite healthy
13-year-old boy wanting to discover what a woman's body looks
With me it was only a pair of breasts and a bottom. But I do
kind of want
to change that particular perception of me. It's very
WITH THE SPICE GIRLS, GERI WAS VERY MUCH THE LEADER, THE
MOST vocal exponent of Girl Power. In interviews she dominated
proceedings. With a mixture of flirt and threat, she disarmed
toughest inquisitor. Then, just before they were due to appear
National Lottery Show, Geri walked out. Millions of
were devastated. Certain dodgy middle-aged men were pretty
The tabloids went predictably nuts. The Spice Girls themselves
diplomatically silent, as did Geri. Now, a year down the line,
she is more
ready to discuss the reasons why she left the world's most
She sits cross-legged in front of me, eyes wide and smile
fixed. She will
not be drawn into any slanging matches. However, a recent
with the remaining Spices in which they said Geri wasn't much
singer or dancer has left her a little angry and bewildered.
"That's not a
very nice thing to say," she says, shaking her head.
"But everyone is
entitled to their own opinion. I never claimed to be Celine
Dion or the
best performer in the world but the fact is that I really
enjoyed it and I
knew that I could get a crowd going. And I felt very good at
it, and I loved
being on stage. I thought I had found a vocation that I really
doing. At the end of the day though, I'd just left the group.
entitled to say a few things, to be a bit angry with me."
When Mel B got married, Geri was conspicuous by her absence.
she claimed not even to have been told the wedding was
How did that feel? "Not being invited did hurt. I'd been
together with the
girls for four years. But the thing is it's totally
all the attention that would have been caused if I'd gone.
This was her
big day - quite right that she wanted her moment, and I
didn't want any other attention. You'll have to interview
*her* about that
You're being very magnanimous... "I just think that I
wouldn't be here
without those four girls, and I'm completely aware of that and
appreciate that. You live and learn, and I had some fantastic
those girls. I'm not going to patronise anybody and say it was
every minute, but I have seen and done things that people
in their lifetime, and I did it and experienced it with those
girls. I can't be
bitter about that."
You don't bear any sort of grudge then? I think if you swallow
just turns to bitterness and makes you ill. I read a book
called "I Can
Heal Your Life", and the author says you can cause cancer
harbouring those feelings. You have to let it go." Right.
So the Spice
Girls are forgiven because of their potentially carcinogenic
Geri will succeed just as she always has done. Her new single
is a loud
raunchy attack on media misconceptions of her. In her car a
little later I
tell her it reminds me a bit of a poppy Public Image Limited.
then?" asks Geri. Johnny Rotten's band after he left the
"Ah... " she says. You should tell the NME you were
partly inspired by
that record. They'd be impressed. "That's not a bad idea.
I should make
a note of that."
Opportunity, opportunity. Geri sees it, hears it, everywhere.
I can't think,
of anyone who better exemplifies the dictum 'Seize The Day'.
Halliwell," she says. Often. As if it meant everything.
Or she says, "I'm
just Geri Halliwell," as if it meant nothing. I know
which one I believe.
She's only 5ft 2in. That's about the same height as a big
rearing up on its hind legs.
feet are tiny, just like fairy feet. If she was ever hard up
could borrow some shoes off a hedgehog or something -they'll
about the same size.
the Spice Girls, Geri hit number one six times and is
apparently a millionaire several times over. So she probably
wouldn't need to borrow anything from a hedgehog. Except
cheeky minx pinched Prince Charles's bum once. Rumours
that he grabbed her tits and went, "Honk, honk" in
probably not true.
also high-fived Nelson Mandela. Respect and all that.
has pictures of big naked ladies from France hanging up in her
new house, a former monastery. Saucy.
smokes Silk Cut fags and dips sandwiches in her tea. Classy.
says her mum and dad were very poor and she had no
elastic in her knickers.
day at infant school she wet herself and they fell down.
got a better pair from the school cupboard. Bless.
She fancies Eric Cantona. Oof.