Playboy Magazine:

Geri Halliwell proves that ginger is the flavor of the month!

THEY CAME from across the sea, armed with a couple of videos, five suitcases full of
impossibly short skirts, a handful of infectious songs ("Tell me what you want, what you
really, really want") and a slogan: GIRL POWER.

Their reputation, promulgated across a great number of magazine covers preceeded
them: They were the peppy, sexy new antidote to all those sullen, grungy boy bands that
had come to dominate British pop music. These young women seemed primed for
Stateside stardom by dint of the fact that their first three Britisk singles hit number one.
The only previous acts to achieve this feat were Gerry & the Pacemakers, Frankie goes to
Hollywood, Jive Bunny & the Mastermixers and Robson & Jerome - a decidedly mixed batch
- seems beside the point. These are the the Spice Girls. Resistance is futile. They hit
America running as fast as possible to run in platforms. They did lunches, dined with the
right disc jockeys, visited the right radio stations and made fun of some of those popular
people later. But at the time they bubbled, laughed, smiled and thanked everyone for
playing their records. In Los Angeles they were delighted to learn that their pictures had
been painted on the side of a large brick building on Melrose Avenue. So, between
promotional chores, they hurried to the site to have their pictures taken. When they got
there, they sadly watched their mural being replaced by a painting of David Bowie.

Geri says: "fun and freedom and adventure" are the Spice Girls message. "We are not
saying 'Be in a particular way', we are just saying 'Be yourself'!" She's thoroughly herself
when she calls to mind a line from the song Naked: Don't be afraid to stare, she's only

But that was about as disappointing as life got for the Spice Girls in 1997. By the end of the
year they had three more consecutive number one hits in the UK (take that, Jive Bunny!).
Sales of their debut album, Spice, approached 20 million worldwide. The group hit the
top in more than 40 countries and the Girls were looking at a net worth of some $50
million. A backlash, of course, set in.

The doubters are par for this course: Frothy, lightweight pop will always annoy those who
prefer their music to carry more import and angst. Still, pop is the ticket if you want to
become the year's best-selling act, or to cause a few tremors on the pop-culture

The Spice Girls have done both. In one widely seen clip, Prince William shyly basked in
the company of the quintet. In South Africa, Nelson Mandela curiously remarked that this
time with the women provided him with "some of the greatest moments of my life." In
Washington, Hillary Clinton reportedly greeted Donatella Versace with the phrase girl
power at a White House function.

And in theaters soon across America earlier this year (1998), young women screemed at
the appearance of the Spice Girls during the opening scenes of SpiceWorld. It was as if it
were 1964 and the Beatles - with the difference that most were presumebly hot and
bothered over role models rather than objects of desire. Some 90 minutes later, a good
number of them exited the theaters singing the words to The lady is a vamp, the jazzy,
stylished finger-popper that concludes the movie. The song is a tribute to the famous
females of the past - Marilyn, Jackie O, Charlie's Angels - and, not incidentaly, to famous
females of the present. "Scary, Baby, Ginger, Posh, Sporty," they sing. "Now that's your lot."

Once they went by different names: Melanie Brown, Emma Bunton, Geri Halliwell, Victoria
Adams and Melanie Chisholm. That was back in 1994, when they were dancers and
models and wannabe pop stars who answered an advertisment placed by a manager
looking to assemble an all-girl band that could inspire the same kind of pubescent
adulation that, in the UK at least, greeted by dodgy boy bands such as Take That and
Boyzone. The Girls soon parted from their original manager. They hung out together,
wrote songs - or fragments that canny producers could shape into songs - and made the
rounds, landing a new manager, record deal and producers. They changed their name
from Touch to Spice Girls. (Geri suggested Spice, but that was taken.)

Despite their lack of musical experience, their appeal was obvious. "They came into the
studio and sang accapella in the car park", said Matt Rowe, one of their longtime
producers. "Then they all sat on one another's laps in a chair. And I thought: Yes, this is the
group for me."

The Girls claim they had their priorities straight from the start. "Right from the beginning
we said we didn't want to be put on a pedestal," Bunton said. "We wanted girls to look at
us and say, 'Fuck, I want to join the gang'. We didn't want to be out of reach." We were
saying", added Halliwell, "that you can have that sense of freedom and fun too."

In the UK, at least, this attitude contrasted sharply with the glum louts whose dour music
dominated the charts. "It was about time some fun pop was brought back, with positive
messages," Chisholm told one reporter. "Cause with grunge and gangsta rap, it was
getting really negative."

By the time their first album, Spice, came out in 1996, they had acquired zippier monikers:
Mel B, Emma, Geri, Victoria and Mel C. But as the hits kept coming - first Wannabe, then Say
you'll be there, then 2 become 1 - the names were replaced by labels: Scary Spice, Baby
Spice, Ginger Spice, Posh Spice and Sporty Spice. And with each label came a set of
identifiable attributes: Scary Spice has a pierced tongue and frizzy hair and likes
leopard prints. Posh Spice wears heels and very short skirts and looks bored. Sporty
Spice favors warm-up suits and does kung fu moves. Baby Spice goes for frilly dresses
and pigtails.

Then there's Ginger Spice, who's often dubbed the group's unofficial ringleader. (Some of
the promotional material associated with SpiceWorld, the movie calls her Sexy Spice.)
She is Geraldine Estelle Halliwell. Her father, now deceased, was a car salesman, her
Spanish mother is a cleaning lady. Geri was born in Watford (1972) which makes her the
oldest Spice Girl. When she auditioned for the group, the would-be Svengali who was
then running the show asked her how old she was. Legend has it she replied, "I'm as old or
as young as you want. I can be a ten-year-old with big tits if you want me to." His response
was not recorded, but obviously she she got the gig.

Before joining the Spice Girls, Geri held a variety of jobs, including club dancer in
Majorca, aerobics instructor, model and game-show hostess in Turkey. When the group
became famous and old topless photos surfaced in the tabloids, she reacted the way
Madonna reacted to a similar situation years earlier: She shrugged it off. This makes
sense, because she is a huge Madonna fan.

Some of her attributes are readily apparant, others less so. "The largest muscle and my
life's biggest asset," she told Us Magazine, "is my brain." She uses that brain to Spice up
other people's lifes. "Life can be hard, it can be negative," she has said. "So you can turn
on to our video and put a bit of vitality and fun into it all."

Vitality and fun are favorite words of hers, and of the other Spice Girls. In conversation,
though, the phrase they use the most may well be at the end of the day: It's their way of
either summing up or shrugging off whatever they've been talking about so they can
present a nice, positive moral. "At the end of the day," says Ginger, "we're about freedom,
fun and liberty." "At the end of the day," adds Scary, "we're quite normal." At the end of
every day, in the imaginary realm of SpiceWorld, vitality and fun and positivity win out -
courtesy, of course, of girl power, a vague concept that involves accepting yourself and
who you are, and not being pushed around by men. Mind you, their message is not
exclusionary: "You can be a Spice Boy. In fact, you are a Spice Boy." It sounds pretty
simple: Be yourself, have fun, don't let anybody push you around.

Onstage in Los Angeles last year, Ginger Spice leaned into the microphone. "I'd like to
dedicate this to every woman in America," she said, holding up one of the pair of.....