Melanie C Talks the Spice Girls and Their LGBTQ+ Fanbase
Coming off the Spice Girls’ epic Spice World Reunion Tour, Melanie C is already gearing up to go on a tour of her own, this time on the Global Pride Tour featuring Sink The Pink.
On her blissfully tranced-out 2000 smash dance hit, “I Turn to You,” Melanie C sings about the very human need for love, solidarity, and unconditional support: “I turn to you like a flower leaning toward the sun / I turn to you ‘cause you’re the only one / Who can turn me around when I’m upside down.” It’s an appropriate sentiment considering the artist also known as Sporty Spice has had a longstanding allyship and kinship with the LGBTQ+ community—a group she is currently celebrating on her 2019 Global Pride Tour alongside U.K. queer inclusive club-turned-collective Sink The Pink, which she first got involved with in 2017.
“They approached me about performing at one of their club nights and I just fell in love with them,” the singer says, enthusiastic and energetic as she phones from her hotel in Brazil just days after the conclusion of the Spice Girls’ epic Spice World Reunion Tour in London. “I had seen them on social media and thought, ‘These people are so fierce, it’s quite intimidating!’ But it’s such an inclusive place. Everybody is so beautiful, inside and out.”
The following summer, that one-off performance transformed into a beautiful partnership, with Melanie returning to the stage—this time, accompanied by a troupe of queens decked out in archetypal Spice drag—at STP’s co-founded Mighty Hoopla festival. The event was a huge success, and ultimately inspired the pop star’s Global Pride Tour. “I performed with some drag queens. We did a couple of Spice Girls songs and the reaction from the crowd was so incredible,” Melanie says. “I was like, ‘You know what? We need to do this again!’ Now we’re taking this incredible show to so many cities around the globe. It has exploded into something so much more than I could have ever imagined.”
V caught up with Melanie C to chat about the sound of her upcoming solo music, the prospects of a North American Spice Girls reunion tour, and the deep connection between the iconic ‘90s girl group and their wonderful worldwide LGBTQ+ fans.
V: This year, you’ll perform at Pride in New York City during the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, which is a huge moment.
Melanie C: It’s just so exciting. The LGBTQ+ community has always been such a huge support to the Spice Girls and we’ve always been huge allies as well. I feel like we have a kinship. There are so many similarities between myself and the band, and everyone who attends Pride. It feels like a natural thing, you know?
V: Why do you think the Spice Girls are so beloved within the queer community?
M: All these years later, people are still enjoying the music. Not only are there hardcore fans, but it’s spread out across so many generations. We just wanted everybody to feel like they could come along and have fun. We went into the music industry and we didn’t really think too much about what we were doing. We realized quite quickly that we were so different from each other and that was our strength.
It spoke to a lot of people that way, who maybe felt that they weren’t the cool kid at school or that they didn’t fit in. We were different but we were in total support of each other. I think it’s something the LGBTQ+ community can relate to. We all have self-doubt. We all have insecurities. But I feel that who I am is enough. We should celebrate our differences. I think that’s why we share that love with each other.
V: What are you looking forward to the most about performing in NYC for Pride?
M: Well, first of all, it’ll be my first performance in the United States in many, many years. I’m super excited to go back to New York. I think the last time I performed in New York was in 1998 with the girls. My grandma was visiting. She must have been in her late 70s or early 80s, but she took it in stride. [Laughs]
And like you said, 50 years of Stonewall—it’s such a huge celebration, there’s so much to be joyous about. And although it’s a good time to celebrate, it’s also a reminder that this is a fight we’ve got to keep fighting. We’ll be having a great time, having fun, but we’ll also be fighting as well.
V: So many rights are currently being threatened around the world. You’re quite vocal about your beliefs and what you stand up for. What would you like to say to your LGBTQ+ fans?
M: I have to say a huge thank you to them not only for the support over the years but also for how much they’ve taught me, especially in the last few years. Whether you’re gay, bi, trans, whatever—we’re all equal. I live in London, and culturally there it’s a real mix of everyone. I still feel like I’m learning, and I’m starting to see people be genderless, in a way. That’s been a big shift for me in the last few years. So much prejudice comes from ignorance or fear of the unknown. We’re all guilty of that. But even with people I know nothing about, I’m becoming more open and more accepting.
V: What’s the secret to perfecting the ultimate Sporty Spice drag look?
M: Oh my God, I think the high kicks are very important! And just the energy. One of the things I’ve discovered about myself on stage is there’s just an energy inside me that comes out when I’m with the other Spice Girls. I’m 45 years old now, but I can still jump around like a teenager when I’m on stage with the girls.
V: Let’s talk about the 2019 Spice World reunion tour, which you ladies just finished. Why do you think the band has had such a lasting legacy after all these years?
M: We are so lucky. When we first became successful, the stars really aligned. It was what the world needed. We came out as a pop group and we realized pretty quickly what we had: five women against the music industry, which was quite difficult. It became our mission. It just spoke to so many young people. We were so lucky, because together and with great songwriters and producers, we made some fantastic records—just hit after hit.
And it was something that worked internationally as well. I was in São Paulo this morning, and there were quite a lot of people who had been to the tour just a few weeks ago in Europe! We could never be able to tell you why this all happened, but we’re just so grateful that it did. For the reunion tour, I didn’t get super nervous, I just wanted to enjoy it. The cheers from the crowd were so beautiful, it was a joy—no pressure. And you know what? We did mess up. We’re not super perfect human beings; we’re just like everyone else.
V: Is there any talk about bringing the reunion tour to North America?
M: We would love to! We’ve spoken a lot about it. It’s such an incredible piece of work—it was just exactly what we wanted it to be. The reaction in the U.K. was so incredible, but we just need a little bit of time to catch our breath. We’ll be sitting down soon to talk about the possibility of coming to the U.S. and other countries.
V: During the reunion tour, there was an incredible moment at Wembley where Geri [Ginger Spice] stunned fans with a heartfelt apology for exiting the group when she did. In 1998, it was such a controversial moment when she left. You looked emotionally touched by her statement. Did you have any idea that she was going to do that?
M: It was incredible. The first night at Wembley back on our tour in 1998, Geri wasn’t there. We knew she was feeling quite emotional when our reunion tour came to Wembley [on June 15] and it was very much on her mind. But we didn’t know she was going to say the things she did. It was very much in the moment. There were so many really touching moments on stage—things we felt together as a team and things that we felt as individuals. I’ll be honest with you: I don’t think any of us have come down yet. Let’s just hope we can continue.
V: What can you share about the new music you’re working on right now?
M: Version of Me was my last record in 2016. I was really into electronic music and I want to continue down that path. I’m loving the electronic sound and am continuing to speak from the heart and work with new people. I think, as an artist, it’s sometimes quite easy to keep company with the same people; you feel safe and comfortable. But I’ve learned that meeting new artists and songwriters gives you new inspiration. I’m excited about the new stuff. It’s just nice to work with younger people.
V: I’ve always loved your electronic sound, all the way back to Hex Hector’s remix of “I Turn to You” in 2000—which became a huge dance hit, especially in gay nightclubs. Why do you think that song became the anthem that it did?
M: Hex Hector did such an incredible job on that remix. When I heard the mix, it was like, ‘That has to be the single.’ It just worked. And thematically, we all long to have that accepting person in our lives, that someone we can turn to. I think it’s nice to have that sentiment in the song, it’s important. That’s one of the reasons it’s so loved.
Check out Melanie C’s full Global Pride Tour dates featuring Sink The Pink, below:
6/30 – Pride Fest – New York, NY
6/30 – World Pride Closing Ceremony – New York, NY
7/05 – Pride Festival – Madrid, ES
7/06 – Troxy – London, UK
7/07 – Cologne Pride Festival – Cologne, DE
7/13 – Bristol Pride Festival – Bristol, UK
7/20 – Hull Pride Festival – Hull, UK
7/26 – Pride CSD – Berlin, DE
7/27 – Milkshake Festival – Amsterdam, NL
7/31 – Stockholm Pride Festival – Stockholm, SE
8/04 – Brighton Pride – Brighton, UK
8/10 – Margate Pride – Margate, UK
9/27 – Limelight – Belfast, UK
9/28 – The Academy – Dublin, UK