SOLO SPICE - the artist
formerly known as ginger is still spice-y hot, with a
soon-to-be-hit solo album and a multimillion-dollar book deal.
here geri halliwell comes clean about her bulimia, nude
modeling and life behind bars.
IT'S GRAMMY NIGHT AND
EVERYONE WHO'S ANYONE IN the music biz is in the Shrine
Auditorium in Los Angeles. Almost everyone, that is. Geri
Halliwell, the artist who made the most music news last year -
first for splitting from Brit pop phenom Spice Girls, next for
pulling off an image 180 that made Courtney Love's seem like a
change of lipstick, and then for inking a multimillion-dollar
record and book deal - is at a quiet Beverly Hills bistro.
A scant few miles from the
stars, paparazzi and statuettes, she looks less than
statuesque - only "five one and a bit," her monster
platforms long since auctioned off for charity. Her look -
black pants and sweater set, pigtailsis cute, but not exactly
camera-ready."l don't really go for celebrity parties.
I'd much rather go home and watch telly" says Halliwell.
Perhaps she'll change her tune next year, should her solo CD
garner a Grammy nod. It could happen. From the first single,
"Look at Me,"a fun dance tune bursting with smart
attitude, through "Lift Me Up," a girly guitar song,
Schizophrenic has something for everyone. "I think women
have schizophrenic lives - we're lovers, we're workers we're
mothers, were fighters," explains Halliwell. "One
song is high-strung and dance-oriented, and another is
reflective and moody. There's a Beck-like tune with sitars.
There's a big ballad," she continues. "My manifesto
was to look at it as the last album I'll ever make, like I was
going to drop dead at the end, so I took it to the max."
But can she sing? "I
wouldn't say I'm Celine Dion, but I've got expression.
"Will anyone older than 12 relate to it? I didn't want to
alienate my former fans; however, I'm a twenty-six year-old
woman" - or so she says - "and I write like
one." Any catty lyrics about her former
sisters-in-condiments? Halliwell, who wrote all the songs,
says only, "I had a lot to think about, a lot to get out.
Obviously you're going to put down what you feel, but I tried
not to be too self-indulgent."
Post-Spice, how did you feel about making your own album?
GH: I didn't want to
make an album straightaway. My confidence was on the floor, I
was running on adrenaline. ,Something inside me didn't want to
admit I wanted to make an album. But I believe you must face
MLLE: You quit Spice
Girls after a conflict with a breast-cancer appearance. What
were you feeling? "That's it! I'm outta here!"?
GH: I must have been
very brave or totally mad. Most people would have stayed for
the money, but I just couldn't.
MLLE: But there must
have been friction...
GH: I won't say
anything adverse about the others because there was a
camaraderie, we empowered each other, and I wouldn't be where
I am today without them. But supposing you fell in love, had
this fantastic romance - and then it went pear-shaped? I don't
know, maybe I expected too much from the relationship.
MLLE: How important is
GH: Image is
everything in this life but it's also bullshit and we must
remember that. When I was in the Spice Girls, I became a
caricature of myself. At my"peak" I couldn't even
recognize myself. It was like they weren't looking at me, they
were looking at the makeup and the costume and the hair. It
was good in that I didn't feel as vulnerable, but I was ready
to wipe off all the layers.
GERALDINE ESTELLE HALLIWELL:
IT SOUNDS LIKE THE name of a spinster headmistress at an
upper-crust finishing school, not someone best known, till
recently, for scandalous hemlines, more makeup than the first
floor of Bloomingdale's and a penchant for pinching princes.
But Halliwell, the youngest of five siblings, admits she was
never much in the demure department."I hitched up my
skirt and wore too much eyeliner,' she says of her teenage
Nor was she the least bit
upper-crust. Halliwell grew up in a working-class London
suburb. Her father, of Swedish descent, was a car salesman,
and her mother, who's Spanish, cleaned houses. During college,
Halliwell earned money to make a demo tape by working a slew
of day jobshousemaid, barmaid, aerobics instructor, glamour
model (the British euphemism for posing nude, and the source
of all those Porno Spice rumors); she even sold fake designer
watches. Halliwell remembers her mom forever yammering:
"Get a proper job! Be a teacher, marry a banker!"
MLLE: How does someone
go from growing up the way you did to achieving stardom?
GH:You have to have a
lethal cocktail of things - you've got to want it so bad, and
you've got to need it. When my father died of a heart attack,
I was 21; it made me very death-conscious. I felt a massive
void inside me and that put the accelerator down - the pain
MLLE: Was that around
the same time that you had an eating disorder?
GH: Yes.When I was
modeling, and when my father died, I was anorexic and bulimic.
I've never really analyzed the eating disorder thing; I think
it happens because of a combination of things - it's a coping
mechanism, it's low-self esteem, it's something you do when
you're stressed or unhappy. When you're content, you don't do
MLLE: And it's not
something you'd want to recommend to fame-seekers. Other
GH: Don't covet, don't
grasp; try your best, put all your positive energy into it.
Then let it go. Think: If it happens, it happens; if it
doesn't, it doesn't - and then it will come.
HALLIWELL DOESN'T ORDER MORE
THAN A LARGE SALAD but that's because of her agenda. "I
want to talk, I don't want to be distracted by food," she
says. The girl can talk a blue streak - especially about her
noble works. Most people know by now that Halliwell, who had a
benign lump removed from a breast when she was 18, is a
champion of breast-cancer awareness. "You can abuse fame,
take advantage of people or even just run around in a stretch
limo with bodyguards and create this chaos, or you can use it
brilliantly," says Halliwell. "I can talk about
breast cancer, and if one girl goes, 'Ooh, I better check my
boobl' then I've done something good with it." Halliwell
is also a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, promoting
population control and reproductive health care in
underdeveloped countries; plus she took part in a Comic Relief
documentary to call attention to the staggering debt of Third
World nations. We're all for that, but, hey, we want the dirt.
MLLE: It's been a year
since you left.Two of the girls have just had babies. Is it
time to rekindle the friendship?
GH: I'm not ready. I
will love those girls forever, but I'm still licking my
wounds. I need my own space to rebuild who I am before I can
connect with them again.
MLLE: So who are your
GH: I have two close
girlfriends. One does my hair - I've known her for years,
she's really earthy and normal. The other is a journalist;
she's very intelligent. George Michael is my only celebrity
mate. He came from the same town as me, he also has a
partially Mediterranean background, he lost his mother and I
lost my father - it's not a superficial friendship. I used to
be a huge Wham! fan. When I first met him I tried to flirt
with him! I thought I had a chance, but it was soon apparent
that was not going to happen!
WILLE: The latest gossip is
that you've come between George and his b.f. Kenny Goss.
GH: Total rubbish!
They're together and very happy. George and Kenny have been
brilliant to me - I don't know what I would have done without
them. After the Spice Girls, I was so lonely, and for tax
reasons I couldn't go home - they gave me shelter and
companionship. The combination of their two personalities
would make a perfect boyfriend.
MLLE: And you haven't
got one of those?
GH: I haven't had sex
for ages! I'd like a snuggle and a kiss - I think a kiss is as
important as sex in a way - but now I want to save myself for
the right person.
MLLE: How do you feel
about women using sexuality as a way to get what they want?
GH: I'm sure we've all
subconsciously done it - I'd be a liar and a hypocrite if I
said I haven't. But there are boundaries. As long as you don't
rely completely on your sexuality, I think it's okay. Women
have sexuality and intelligence and beauty - women have so
Geri Halliwell sure does -
and more power to her