Cheryl Stone (she/her) is one of the hosts of Spice Invaders and is generally into science fiction and how we navigate nostalgia.
Listen to the podcast here.
Cheryl, you co-host the podcast Spice Invaders. What can you tell us about the show?
Spice Invaders is an obsessive history of the Spice Girls told by the people who were impacted by it. We’re discovering things we didn’t know as kids, some of which is really great as well as some serious drawbacks. We just released episode 6 [at time of interview], and in it we talk about sponsorships, merch deals, and how girl power got mixed up with capitalism.
We plan to cover Spice Girls history until 2000. Our last episode is planned for December 6th, although we will do some reflection episodes after that point.
Who was your favorite Spice Girl as a kid and has your choice changed now that you’re an adult?
I definitely wanted to be Geri growing up – she looked like she was having so much fun! I think as we’ve made this podcast, Mel B. stands out to me as someone who did a lot for the group and went unsung for it. I’ve grown into a bit of a Victoria, like in having a very clean front to the world and keeping the funny, wry side of myself hidden. I’ve also been really inspired by Mel C. and learning about the mental health issues she overcame. And Emma benefits from a deeper perspective…looking back, she was 18 and living with her mom when she started with the band. She was so young! Really though, it’s deepened my love for all of them as a whole as I’ve discovered some of the really big challenges they were going through.
As a queer woman, do you feel like you bring a unique perspective to the podcast?
Yeah, it comes up in a couple different ways. Looking at the particular historical moment, Mel B. was openly bisexual, but it was very hidden from fans. This fact is not in any official books until her biography years later. Looking back, it’s sad to realize there was a bisexual hero right in front of us, but young girls didn’t get to know that.
I think the writing and rewriting of girl power also benefits from a queer perspective. The Spice Girls were an introduction to the feminine as inherently performative. They had five distinct feminine looks that you could literally put on as a Halloween costume. I came out later in life, but I had always indirectly chased performative feminine acts (Lady Gaga was huge for me after the Spice Girls). There were times when, looking back, I realize I was performing gender and obsessing over performing gender in ways that should have made me realize there was something deeper going on!
I have to admit – I didn’t grow up a fan of the Spice Girls. How do you think your podcast can appeal to people like me who are coming in late?
One of the members of our team is not a super-fan, and she offers great insight to our conversations by asking, “What does that mean?” and filling in gaps for people who might not have the ready knowledge that a long time fan has.
Even if you’re not a fan of the Spice Girls, our podcast is a great snap shot of the mid-90s and of a group that changed the game in a lot of ways. If you think celebrity culture is fascinating, you have to study the Spice Girls. It’s fun!
Will Spice Invaders do a livewatch of Spice World?
If there’s enough listener interest, we will!
[Editor’s note: Rachel really wants this to happen, so help make her dreams come true by requesting a Spice World live watch!]
Is there anything else about you’d like us to know about your podcast?
I think it’s important to engage with things from our childhood and teen years that we loved then, and evaluate what we’ve learned from them. We should take a moment and evaluate the values that created these things, because they usually become our own values subconsciously. I hope our podcast helps people do that.
Do you have any recommendations of queer nerdy content?
- This Ends at Prom is a podcast about the hosts watching teen girl movies. What makes it unique is that one of the hosts is a diehard fan and the other comes to the movies fresh and with a trans perspective, having missed a lot of the movies at the time because they were raised as a teen boy.
- Fierce Femmes and the Notorious Liars by Kai Cheng Thom is a book about a group of young trans people who come together to defend their community as imaginary magical realism superheroes.
- The Murderbot series is obviously so good.
- Emily Carroll’s webcomics are spooky and amazing. I particularly love the 50-page “When I Arrived at the Castle.”
- Sarah Gailey’s work is always great, especially Upright Women Wanted and their American Hippo duology.
- I love Fonda Lee’s The Green Bone saga. It’s The Godfather in the Game of Thrones universe with magic and technology and gangs and the mob.
Other than pop culture podcasts and books, what nerdy interests are you most excited about right now?
I’m very excited for the return of Doctor Who. In particular, I love anything with Missy! I just want to watch her wreak havoc across the galaxy.