Mel C (real name Melanie Chrisholm) revealed she was sexually assaulted the night before her first live performance with the Spice Girls. The 48-year-old singer, known as Sporty Spice in the famous girl group, wrote about the harrowing incident in her new memoir The Sporty One: My Life as a Spice Girl, and went into more detail on Tuesday’s (September 13) episode of the How to Fail podcast. “What happened to me, I kind of buried immediately,” she explained during the program. “And because I didn’t deal with it at the time, I realize that I allowed that to be buried for years and years and years.”
The British pop star said the attack took place in Istanbul in 1997, just as the Spice Girls were preparing for their first concert in front of a live audience. To treat herself, Mel C, who was 23 at the time, booked a massage with a male masseur on the eve of the gig. “It happened to me on the night before the first ever Spice Girls live performance,” Mel C said on the podcast. “And 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 towards the pinnacle of everything I’d ever wanted to do and ever wanted to be.”
“And what drives me is being onstage, 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 was other things to focus on. You know, I didn’t want to make a fuss, but also I didn’t have time to deal with it.”
The decision to keep the assault confidential stayed with her until she began working on the new memoir. “It came to me in a dream, or I kind of woke up and it was in my mind,” Mel C explained on the podcast. “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, she added, “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.”
Mel C’s new memoir The Sporty One: My Life as a Spice Girl will be released on September 27.