With ‘90s nostalgia continuing in full swing and showing no signs of slowing down (just ask Bernie Sanders), midnight movie queen Peaches Christ is paying tribute to one of the decade’s most iconic “bands” — and one of its silliest movies. Yes, the Spice Girls are getting the San Francisco drag treatment, as is their deliriously anarchic movie Spice World, a kitschy hybrid of A Hard Day’s Night and Josie and the Pussycats released at the height of their brief but enduring fame.
Before an original film print of this camp classic is glimpsed in a rare public screening, an international drag cast — including RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7 fan favorite Katya Zamolodchikova, Season 5 contestant (and the show’s lone San Francisco ambassador in eight seasons) Honey Mahogany, Manchester drag royalty Anna Phylactic and Cheddar Gorgeous, and Peaches Christ herself — will bring these prefab pop tarts to life in the all-new pre-show Spice Racks. Spice up your life when this Cool Brittania-bubblegum pop extravaganza hits the Castro Theatre on April 16, with performances at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets and more information are available at peacheschrist.com.
Below, all five members of the Spice Racks dish on how they picked their parts, their own personal Spice Girls fandom, and why Honey’s ass is nervous about working with Katya.
Peaches, how did you decide on doing a tribute to Spice World? Peaches Christ: Someone had mentioned to me that this year is the 20th anniversary of the forming of the Spice Girls group and I’ve thought for a while that Spice World would be a great subject for one of our events and celebrations, so it just all seemed like the right time to do it.
How did you cast your parody version of the group, the Spice Racks? Peaches: I’ve wanted to do a show with Katya ever since we first met while her season of Drag Race was airing. She’s hysterical! So when I thought about how I wanted to make Baby Spice really ridiculous and silly and add loads of potty-humor to the character, I thought she’d be perfect. Anna and Cheddar are queens who are like literally from England, so that’s just perfect. Anna is very regal and proper, so Posh fits her; Cheddar is very athletic and muscular, so I thought she’d play the lesbian one well. I wanted to be Ginger for obvious reasons, and Honey is just perfectly Scary.
Honey Mahogany: I’m black.
Girls, how did the rest of you become involved with Peaches Christ and this project? Katya Zamolodchikova: I love theater and I love to laugh and sing and feel deep moments of joy, so it all just kind of happened organically. I met Peaches last year and I told her that if she didn’t put me in one of her shows very soon she would regret it (and then I made a broad gesture indicating a threatening act of physical violence). I’m grateful she took the hint so no one has to get hurt.
Honey: I spent time in Manchester three years ago and developed a working relationship with Anna and Cheddar. Peaches had made the trip to Manchester a few years before that and made first contact with these UK queens, so when Trixxie and I went for the Cultural Olympiad in 2012, we got to build on that. We’ve been plotting ways to work together again ever since, and it seems as though we finally have our chance!
Cheddar Gorgeous: I was lucky enough to be one of the Children of the Popcorn when Peaches toured her movie All About Evil to Manchester a few years ago. I was hooked from that point forward and pretty much stalked her online until I visited San Francisco in 2012. I spent most of that trip hanging around street corners and stage doors casually until she appeared, then expressing surprise at the coincidence of our meeting. I was worried she might try to take out some kind of restraining order, but instead she asked me and Anna to go on tour with her when she came back to the UK with Bearbarella! I guess she likes that kind of thing and wanted to up the risk factor by bringing us both back onto her home turf for this show.
Peaches, you were already doing drag in San Francisco when this movie came out. What was your perspective on it at the time, and how do you view it now? What makes it a cult movie? Peaches: I remember a friend of mine wanting to go see the film when it came out and me rolling my eyes at the thought of it, because I really hadn’t paid that much attention to the group. They were obviously hugely popular, but I just didn’t “get” it. So we go see the movie at the Regency on Van Ness, and I can remember so well thinking, “Omigod, they’re fabulous! They’re totally in on the joke and they’re super charming and silly, and this movie is so stupid in all the best ways!” It was through the movie that I became a fan. I even said to my friend, “I bet we do a Spice World show someday.” Look at us now!
Girls, what’s your personal history with the Spice Girls and Spice World? Do you consider yourself fans? Katya: The Spice Girls had their heyday during a time in my life when I only listened to German industrial music, so at the time I wasn’t a fan. But recently, while doing research for my role, I discovered that there is actually a lot of depth and complexity to their imagery, music, and messages. For example, Posh Spice wasn’t only about glorifying a luxury lifestyle; she also really liked animals. I’m definitely a fan.
Honey: I was a tween when the Spice Girls first came out. I was barely in middle school when “Wannabe” hit, but I remember instantly being enamored by their energy, fun music, and girl power message. Hearing a message about girl power was significant for me at that time because I was pretty femme even then, and hearing about feminine strength felt empowering regardless of my sex.
Anna Phylactic: I was such a fan! Still am, actually! Obsessed! I have all the limited-edition Cadbury chocolate bars and collected enough ring pulls to get two copies of “Generation Next”. Can you think of a Spice Girls track that wasn’t catchy? No. Exactly. I love how they were girly but strong, and loud and proud and totally about girl power.
Cheddar: Like most British people my age, the Spice Girls reign is one of the most haunting memories of my adolescence. At one point you weren’t allowed to leave the house without at least one item of Spice-related merchandise about your person. Even boys were expected to have chosen a Spice that they most identified with and had memorized all of the appropriate catchphrases for. It was worse growing up gay in those times; there were random spot checks in clubs to ensure you knew the dance routine to “Stop!” Even now I can’t help but capitalize the word SPICE every time I write it. It really did have the most profound effect on the person I am today. I am so glad that work is being made that teaches a new generation about what we had to endure.
Anna and Cheddar, is there anything about the Spice Girls that you think American audiences might not fully understand or appreciate the way British fans do? Anna: I don’t think so. What’s not to love or get? Americans seem a clever bunch. Apart from that Donald Trump. She’s one, ain’t she?
Cheddar: The implausibility of driving a bus at that speed through central London traffic… even in the ‘90s. #NoseToTail
Can audiences expect unified British accents? Peaches: You can definitely expect an attempt at unified British accents! I’ve been practicing.
Okay, here comes the big one: which Spice Girl is your favorite and why? Katya: That’s tough, because they’re each a delicious and important slice of a complex female role model spice cake. I do appreciate Mel C for really carrying the vocal weight of the group so that the rest could express their personalities in other ways like posing or simply looking around. I like Victoria’s kids a lot. They seem cool.
Peaches: Well, Ginger of course! Because she has the best makeup, hair, and drag. Hands down.
Honey: Scary, because dressing up as Scary was the first time I ever impersonated someone in drag, and my second time ever getting in drag.
Anna: It was always Geri! She is just fabulous. I was a ginger at school and she really represented and made being a ginger semi-cool. I even tried to give myself bleached tips at the front of my hair. I failed miserably and my mum ended up shaving my hair off.
Cheddar: Everyone’s favorite is Ginger, right? She had the best hair, the most memorable dress, and in subsequent years has proven to be a combustible blend of comedy and tragedy in real life.
If you were to join the Spice Girls, what spice would you add to the mix? Katya: I would be Spice Channel Spice, named after the now defunct adult content TV network. I would be very, very sexy, and I would have something for everyone.
Peaches: Are you trying to get me to say Old Spice? Cuz it’s not gonna work! Although, my favorite spice of all is something called Old Bay. It’s a Maryland thing. Anyway, I think I’d wanna be Draggy Spice and just be a totally out drag queen member of the group.
Honey: I always thought Brainy Spice would be fun.
Cheddar: Ironic Spice.
Girls, how do you feel about which Spice you’re each playing? Is it a good fit? Katya: I actually wanted to be the assistant tour manager Ghoon who tries real hard but never gets it right, but that role actually doesn’t exist so we went with Baby because she’s blonde, fun and loves to cry. [points to myself] That’s me!
Cheddar: I was totally typecast! Peaches heard a rumor that I could do a pushup — like a man one, not the kind you do on your knees — and she made a snap judgment. I tried to explain that I had more range, but she was having none of it. I really wanted to be Ginger, but apparently my face is too “structural,” whatever that means.
Katya, are there similarities between life on the road as a Drag Race girl and the madness portrayed in Spice World? Katya: Absolutely! The madness, the hijinks, and most of all the humiliation!
In the sense that Spice World creates fictitious origin stories for made-up performer personas, would you say that it’s a good drag primer? Anna: Of course! It gives us so much to play with! We have the iconic looks and names, and can elaborate on costumes and play against type. The Spice Girls ARE drag. My dad’s first reaction to my coming out was ‘But you can’t be gay…you have the Spice Girls on your wall!” Little did he know I wanted to be Ginger, not date her.
Honey: I think that it’s the campiness of the movie, and its utilization of over-the-top fashion, personalities, and stunt-pulling is what makes Spice World so easy to translate into drag.
Cheddar: I think the real question here is how good was the work of drag queens as a primer for the Spice Girls?
Katya: I’m not sure what you’re trying to insinuate here but why don’t you just come out and say it? Does this have anything to do with the movie Contact with Jodie Foster?
What are you looking forward to the most about this show, and what are you the most nervous about? Peaches: It’s such an insane road-show movie that doesn’t make any sense; I feel like the show could also be wild and all over the map and it would be okay. I’m most excited about our on-stage alien encounter!
Anna: I’m looking forward to working with everyone again! Alien sex will probably be fun too.
Cheddar: I am both excited and petrified about performing with such an amazing cast at the Castro Theatre! Peaches and Honey have been real personal inspirations whose support has helped my drag grow. It’s crazy to think I am doing a show with them.
Honey: I’m always excited to be working with Peaches Christ Productions, and of course seeing my friends Cheddar and Anna is something I’m definitely looking forward to. I’m also really excited to be working with Katya Zamolodchikova, though I have to admit I am a little nervous about this as well because she is kind of obsessed with my ass. True story.
Katya: I’m excited to showcase the depth and breadth of my very broad expressive register! But I’m nervous about learning my lines because I can’t read.
Experience the SPICE RACKS at the Castro Theatre on April 16, with performances at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets and more information are available at peacheschrist.com.