Spice Girls singer Melanie Chisholm (known in the group as Sporty Spice) said she was sexually assaulted by a masseur before the girl group’s first-ever performance. Chisholm writes about the incident in her new memoir, Who I Am, while she also spoke about it on an episode of the How to Fail podcast.
The Spice Girls made their live debut on Oct. 12, 1997, in Istanbul, Turkey, and Chisolm said the assault occurred at a hotel the day before. On How to Fail, Chisholm opened up about all the excitement she felt in the lead-up to that massive concert and how that adrenaline helped her push the assault to the side after it happened.
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“We’d never done a full-length concert before, so obviously we’d rehearsed for weeks ahead, costume fittings, make-up, hair, everything was leading to the pinnacle of everything I ever wanted to do, and ever wanted to be,” Chisholm said. “What drives me is being on stage, being a performer. So here we were, the eve of the first ever Spice Girls show, so I treat myself to a massage in the hotel, and what happened to me — I kind of buried, immediately, because there were other things to focus on.”
Chisholm said she “didn’t want to make a fuss” but also felt that she didn’t “have time to deal with” what had happened because of the impending show. That decision, she acknowledged, allowed her to bury the incident for years, and it wasn’t until she wrote Who I Am that it came back to her.
“It came to me in a dream, or I kind of woke up and it was in my mind,” she said. “And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I haven’t even thought of having that in the book.’ Then, of course, I had to think, ‘Well, do I want to reveal this?’ And I just thought, actually, it’s really important for me to say it, and to finally deal with it and process it.”
While she didn’t go into details of the assault, Chisholm continued, “I suppose, in a version of sexual assault, it’s a mild version, but I felt violated. I felt very vulnerable. I felt embarrassed. And then I felt unsure — have I got this right? What’s going on? I was in an environment where you take your clothes off with this professional person. So there were so many thoughts and feelings, and I just felt, you know what, I do want to talk about it because it has affected me. But I’d buried it, and I’m sure lots of men and women do.”
Chisholm will publish Who I Am — which shares a name with her 2020 single — tomorrow, Sept. 15.
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