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, by Nina Malkin
taken from the
June 99 Mademoiselle USA edition
IT'S GRAMMY NIGHT,
AND EVERYONE WHO'S ANYONE IN the music biz is in the Shrine Auditorium
in Los Angles . 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 a
book deal--is at a quiet Beverly Hills bistro.
A scant few miles
from the stars, paparazzi and statuettes, she looks less then
statuesque--only "five and one and a bit," her monster
platforms long since auctioned off for charity. Her look--black
pants and sweater set, pigtails--is cute, but not exactly camera-ready.
"I 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, Schizophonic has something
for everyone. "I thing women have schizophrenic lives--we're
lovers , we're workers , we're mothers, we're fighters ,"
explains Halliwell. "One song is high-strung and dance oriented
and dance-oriented, and another is reflective and 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 strait away. 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
quite the Spice Girls after a conflict with a breast-cancer.
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.
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.
important is image?
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
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 Bloomigdale'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 years.
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. Durning college, Halliwell
earned money to make a demo tape by working a slew of day jobs--
housemaid, barmaid, aerobics instructor, glamour model (the British
euphemush 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!"
does someone go from growing up the way you did to achieving
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 fueled
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 that.
it's not something you'd want to recommend to fame seekers. Other
GH: Don't covet,
don't grasp; try you're 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.
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 know that Halliwell , who had
a benign lump removed from her 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 body
guards to 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 boob!' 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.
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
to them again.
MLLE: So who
are your friends now?
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 then it was soon apparent that was not going to happen!
latest gossip is that you've come between George and his b.f.
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.
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.
do you feel about women using their 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 some much
sure does--and more power to her.