Drag the World

There Would Be No Spice Girls Without Drag, Says Mel B

Thirty-odd years on, The Spice Girls are still the best-selling girl group in music history. And Mel B, aka Scary Spice, knows none of that would have been possible without their LGBTQ+ fans.

“I think it’s been everything and they’ve been there for us from the very, very start,” Mel B recently told Metro, referring to queer fanbase. “Without them, it wouldn’t have really happened, I don’t think.”

The very start, of course, was 1994, when boy bands were still dominating the pop ensemble scene. The Spice Girls made their name not only through hit songs but by popularizing the phrase “girl power.” In addition to championing female solidarity, the girl group has consistently stood up for LGBTQ+ rights, earning the Spice Girls an enduring queer following over the years.

But Mel C points out that the group wasn’t just supported by the community—queer culture was at the heart of the Spice Girls’ formation. “I definitely think we’ve been influenced [by the LGBTQ+ community],” she said. “Yeah, I mean, our hair and makeup, our platforms, our girl power, our kind of influence on ourselves and other women. Yeah, definitely.

“And you can’t get better than the gays and the Drag scene embracing you, and we’ve been embraced by both since the start of our career.”

Mel C’s comments are yet another reminder of how drag has always informed mainstream culture, even as right-wing grifters attempt to paint it as something scary and new. At the same time, Mel C is still discovering the nuances of drag art. Her experience as a judge on the upcoming drag vocal competition Queen of the Universe has offered the perfect training ground. “I didn’t realize that Drag was so full on, I mean, what they have to go through and what they put their body through,” she said.

“From the corsets, to this and that and their hair and makeup, it’s like putting on a whole different mask that stays flawless for hours. I mean I know Drag but I didn’t actually know how much time, effort and energy goes into that one look which they had to recreate each week.”

Mel B was also a guest judge on last year’s RuPaul’s Drag Race UK season. Both witnessing and being involved in the mainstream elevation of drag is a bittersweet experience for her. “’It is one of those things where you just wish it would have been more global and more accessible a lot, lot earlier, like decades ago, but there’s no time like the present,” she said. “So I’m just glad that I’m part of this first wave.”

But what excites her most about Queen of the Universe is the different sides of drag the series will showcase. “For me it’s really enjoyable because they’re singing live, which is a whole different twist to this kind of show right now, and it’s on a massive platform which is way more international than it was before,” she said.

“We’ve got contestants from the Philippines, Los Angeles, from all over, the list is endless, it’s just a really good, international, fun show.”

Mel B will judge Queen of the Universe along with Michelle Visage, Trixie Mattel, and Vanessa Williams and host Graham Norton when the second season premieres June 2 on Paramount+.

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