“We are society,” exclaims Geri, “so really …” “We should be running it,” Mel B finishes the statement.
All Girls Together by Kathy Acker
The Spice Girls are the biggest, brashest girlie group ever to have hit the British mainstream. Kathy Acker is an avant-garde American writer and academic. They met up in New York to swap notes - on boys, girls, politics. And what they really, really want.
Fifty-second street. West Side, New York City. Hell’s Kitchen - one of those areas into which no one would once have walked unless loaded. Guns or drugs or both. But now it has been gentrified: the beautiful people have won. A man in middle-aged-rocker uniform, tight black jeans and nondescript T-shirt, lets Nigel, the photographer, and me through the studio doorway; then a chipmunk-sort-of-guy in shorts, with a Buddha tattooed on one of his arms, greets us warmly. This is Muff, the band’s publicity officer. We’re about to meet the Girls …
They are here to rehearse for an appearance on Saturday Night Live. Not only is this their first live TV performance, it’s also the first time they’ll be playing with what Mel C calls a ‘real band’. If the Girls are to have any longevity in the music industry, they will have to break into the American market; and for this they will need the American media. Both the Girls and their record company believe that their appearance here tonight might do the trick. There is a refusal among America’s music critics to take the Spice Girls seriously. The Rolling Stone review of Spice, their first album, refers to them as ‘attractive young things … brought together by a manager with a marketing concept’. The main complaint, or explanation for disregard, is that they are a ‘manufactured band’. What can this mean in a society of McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and En Vogue? However, an e-mail from a Spice fan mentions that, even though he loves the girls, he detects a ‘couple of stereotypes surrounding women in the band’s general image. The brunette is the woman every man wants to date. Perfect for an adventure on a midnight train, or to hire as your mistress-secretary. The blonde is the woman you take home to mother, whereas the redhead is the wild woman, the woman-with-lots-of -evil-powers.’ So who are these Girls? And how political is their notorious ‘Girl Power’?