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How did the Spice Girls get their nicknames?

12 Jun

As a singer Victoria Beckham makes a great fashion designer. And I’m not just saying that to be snarky.

Just look at her fashion label, which is beautiful, stylish and goes from strength to strength. The praise is well earned and her designs are a favourite among celebrities. As for her singing, well that’s another story.

While Victoria was a founding member of ‘90s girl power group the Spice Girls, you only have to watch one of their videos to see how little of the singing she did. But that’s OK. That’s what Emma Bunton and Melanie Chisholm were there for. Posh’s role was to add a bit of class to proceedings, something I’m sure played heavily into her choice of purple thrones for her wedding to footballer David Beckham, who is famous worldwide for his enormous, err, footballing skills.

Anyway, while watching the video for 2 Become 1 in a nostalgic moment tonight, I started wondering how all five girls – rounded out by Geri Halliwell and Melanie Brown – got their Spicy nicknames of Posh, Baby, Scary, Sporty and Ginger. I figured it was the brainchild of their manager, but turns out it was a bit of inspiration from Top of the Pops editor Peter Loraine, who broached the subject over lunch. As he remembers

I simply said it would be a good idea if they had some nicknames. The girls liked the idea, so I had an editorial meeting back at the office and about four of us started thinking of names. Posh was the first one to be thought up because Victoria looks pretty sophisticated. The rest were pretty easy really because the girls’ characters were already really strong. The names jumped out at us. We laughed the most when we came up with Scary. Jennifer Cawthron, who was also from Leeds, came up with that one because Mel B was so loud and had tried to take over our whole photo shoot. We ran the names for a couple of issues and the first time the girls saw them they thought it was funny. Then the newspapers started picking up on the names and they cropped up everywhere until they were fully accepted by everyone.”

Now let’s watch the video..

BTW, did you know that for their group auditions, Mel C sang I’m So Excited by the Pointer Sisters, Mel B sang The Greatest Love Of All by Whitney Houston and Victoria sang Mein Herr from Cabaret?


Where did the term WAG come from?

10 May

As I’ve mentioned once or twice before, I’m in the middle of launching my own magazine called (insert brazen plug here) Regional Foodie Sunshine Coast.

As part of that I’ve been spending a lot of time in front of the computer, anything up to 21 hours in a row. And since I play TV for background music the way some people play actual music, I’ve been exposed to a LOT of crap TV.

Now, among the ‘gems’ (air quotes intended) I’ve stumbled across is WAG Nation, which seems to involve professional sporting girlfriends doing, well, I’m not quite sure what, other than having staged telephone calls and chats while wearing admittedly gorgeous frocks.

There’s one or two who seem to have real spunk and are down to earth with careers/achievements of their own, but a few seem to exist only as an addition to their partner and the perks such a status enjoys in a country where sportsmen are treated as living gods.

And it left me with one question to ponder. Well two actually.

The first, of course, being why the hell didn’t I turn it off?

The second being exactly where the term WAG – short for wives and girlfriends – originated from.

And it seems we have the British media to thank as the tabloid press originally coined the name to describe the wives and girlfriends of the English soccer team.

Or, as the Urban Dictionary puts it…

“A selection of overpublicised, vacuous anorexics found lurking at football matches, easily distinguished by their orange skin tone and high body plastic index, ostensibly present for the purpose of pleasuring the England football team, but in reality with the intention of being photographed obtaining fashion advice from chief WAG Mrs Beckham in the hope that this will lead to a future appearance on “celebrity love island”.

Wow, such lives of satisfaction. And to think some women concern themselves with doing apparently pointless stuff such as earning their own salary or having their own achievements to celebrate.

Perhaps we all just need to get ourselves to a football ground.

Did Kylie Minogue’s famous gold hot pants really cost 50 pence?

27 Mar

You know you’re in trouble when you have to hire a mini skip to do a spring clean. And sadly that’s the situation I found myself in today.

Now, in case you think I’m a crazy woman hoarding cats, used tissues and/or tins of Spam, I should point out my trash was 90 per cent magazines as I am obsessed with them and love to read and re-read them.

But every so often I have a brain snap and decide to de-clutter. So out go tabloid tales of Princess Kate, the Kardashians and Ryan Reynolds and in comes a feeling of smug domestic goddess satisfaction.

Anyway, I don’t know if it was something in the water, but while cleaning up I decided to attack my collection of CDs as well. I mean they take up a LOT of space and since I have a neighbour I know would adore them, I decided to upload the tracks to iTunes and bid them farewell.

And it’s here the night turned judgemental.

You see, I am exceedingly well-known across several states (and even continents) for allegedly having uncool music taste. As if it’s somehow shameful to still know the words to Gotta Pull Myself Together by The Nolans.

But as I uploaded and burned, even I had to confess that the lyrics “boom, boom, boom, let’s go back to my room” are unlikely to be uttered in a Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech any time soon.

Then I hit on gold – a stack of Kylie Minogue discs dating back to the early days of her career. When the power ballad Especially For You was just about the most romantic thing this teenage duck had ever heard.


Since those early days I’ve loved everything from Shocked (remember the scandal around whether she’d replaced the title word with another starting with f?) and What Do I Have To Do? to Love At First Sight, although I was apparently the only person in the world not to like Can’t Get You Out Of My Head.

Then there’s Spinning Around, which apparently rebooted her career in 2000, although some of us had stayed loyal. But of course for most people the music isn’t the most memorable part of that song – it’s those hot pants.

I wanted to know if it’s true they really only cost 50 pence. And the short answer is, yes. But they weren’t even intended for a film clip. As the star herself told Who: “I wore them for a ‘Nerds, Tarts and Tourists’ fancy dress party – I’ll leave it to you to imagine which one I went as!”

Kylie also revealed she wasn’t necessarily as carefree in them as she appeared.

“I actually wasn’t confident (in them), that’s the crazy thing. I remember feeling quite self-conscious and kept wrapping a robe around me on set and would discard (it) right before the take.”

If only she had known what a phenomenon they would become.

Now watch the film clip.


Who is responsible for flanno shirts?

26 Mar

I am a pretty keen student of the different empirical divides that make up our social hierarchy.

Now, in theory, this makes me sound like the Sir David Attenborough of the human world. But in reality it simply means I enjoy making fun of bogans.

Let me say upfront I know I am about to be an outright snob. But there’s just something very wrong about a group whose commitment to sophistication centres on wearing their good double plugger thongs to a formal occasion.

And don’t even get me started on the cringeworthiness that is rats tails, tramp stamps, stonewash jeans and Fruity Lexia drunk straight from the cask.

Then there are flannelette shirts.

If Winnie Blues are the bogan’s favourite accessory, the mighty flannelette shirt is their uniform of choice. Not because they’re paying tribute to the revolution that was grunge music or because it’s practical for work, but simply because they like them. Especially teamed with black jeans and a hotted up Commodore.

So who is responsible for popularising this fashion atrocity? I had to know. And would it surprise you to learn he was American?

His name was Hamilton Carhartt, which probably makes him sound like the Ed Hardy of his time. But that’s an unfair call to make since Hamilton did not own a bedazzler, did not seek to clothe the torso and buttocks of every B grade star who called the Jersey Shore home and actually designed them for practical purposes.

In fact his inspiration was about as unglamorous as you can get – creating clothes to meet the needs of the 1800s working class, such as those employed on the railway. If only it had *sigh* stayed that way.

You can read more about Hamilton here.

But in the meantime, courtesy of a fabulous book /website called Things Bogan Like, I present a list of other things bogans like…

* Perspective-based photos at famous landmarks
* Spurious allergies
* Slater & Gordon
* Misspelling their kids’ names
* Prefacing racist statements with ‘I’m not racist but…’
* Tribal tattoos
* Buddhist iconography as home furnishings
* Ill-informed analysis of the Qur’an
* Petrol consumption as recreation
* Political correctness gone mad



How many people know the Oscar winners before the ceremony?

27 Feb

I love watching the Oscars. But I love watching the pre-ceremony arrivals even more. There’s just something so breathtaking about some of the beautiful gowns that waft down the red carpet. Like the gorgeous sparkly creations worn by Octavia Spencer (pictured) and Milla Jovovich today.

Then you get to the frock shockers, and I must confess this is actually my favourite bit. I mean these women have millions of dollars and access to the best stylists and designers and they STILL manage to get it so wrong. They’re almost begging for a public backhanding.

But while I unleashed my claws on Facebook earlier, I feel obliged to hold my tongue here, since I’m a big believer in karma. But let’s just say my least favourite gowns were all well acquainted with the category of Best Actress.

Anyway, on to the awards themselves, and I’ve always wondered if the winners’ names are really kept secret before those envelopes are opened. And the answer is, yes. Very much so! In fact only two people know their identities in advance.

They are non-household names Rick Rosas and Brad Oltmanns, who are accountants with Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the firm which has long been entrusted with counting the thousands of ballots lodged in 24 categories.

Among the measures they take to ensure absolute confidentiality are to count each ballot by hand, and in utter secrecy. As Oltmanns further reveals on the PWC website: “All of the counting is done in a secure, private, undisclosed location. No computers in the room and phones aren’t used. We are sequestered, just counting the results.”

Once they’re in, the names are kept locked up in a vault. Then, on the big day, the two men attend the show separately, travelling by secret routes and accompanied by police officers. They each carry a briefcase containing an identical set of winners envelopes and stand backstage during the entire ceremony, handing each envelope to the presenters as they walk onstage.

Here’s some other crunched numbers about PWC’s 78 years of Oscar balloting.

* 450,000-plus – the rough number of ballots counted.
* 2600-plus – the number of winners’ envelopes stuffed since the envelope system was introduced in 1941.
* 1700 – the approximate number of “person-hours” it takes each year to count and verify the ballots.
• 7 – the number of days it takes to count the ballots for nominations.
* 3 – the number of days it takes to count the final ballots.

And OK, you partly got me, I’ll come clean on my trio of worst ever Oscar frocks (Cher is ineligible as she gets a category of her own.) 3. Uma Thurman’s milkmaid. 2. Celine Dion’s back to front shiny white pantsuit. 1. Gywneth Paltrow for that black goth ensemble a few years back. But since she looked hotter than hot tonight, I think we can agree she’s more than made up for it.

Check out the red-carpet action here.

Who is Tabatha Coffey and why is she taking over?

26 Feb

If I owned a hairdressing studio in America, I would live in fear of Tabatha Coffey taking over. I mean the woman is shear genius (see what I did there?) but absolutely terrifying.

I’ve been ever so slightly addicted to her reality TV show, Tabatha’s Salon Takeover, for several years now. And when I say I’m addicted, there’s good reason. This is reality TV at its most engrossing (OK equal most engrossing as I also love Project Runway) as she takes on struggling salons, turns them and their staff upside down, and puts them back on the road to success.

But what gives her the right and the gumption to do it? I had to learn more about her background. And I’m glad I did as she’s just as fascinating off screen as on.

The biggest surprise came from something I already knew, which is that she is Australian. With all the black she wears I had her pegged as a Melburnian, but she actually hails from beach country – Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast.

It’s the land of sun, surf and sea, but clearly this held no real appeal or interest as career inspiration. Instead, it seems she was always destined to work in hair, as she details in this anecdote from Pink News.

“I can honestly never remember a time not doing hair,” she says. “I was the quintessential kid, playing with and chopping off dolls’ hair. I would play with the hair of anyone who would let me. My parents ran transsexual strip clubs in Australia, and I spent a lot of time in the back with the girls when they were getting ready. At a young age they put me to work setting their wigs for them, which I loved. I learned not only how to set wigs, but also how hair could transform someone. I would sit there and watch the drag queens get dressed and the last thing they did was put their wig on. They’d put on their make-up and costume, but it was only when they put on their wig that everything came together. That’s how I fell in love with hairdressing.”

Heading to London at an early age, Tabatha worked with the likes of Vidal Sassoon and Toni and Guy before America beckoned. She then ran her own salon in New Jersey, but her career really took off like a shot when she entered the reality TV show Shear Genius. Although not the winner of season one, she proved a fan favourite and was soon asked to headline her own show, the aforementioned Tabatha’s Salon Takeover.

It’s now had a slight tweak to Tabatha Takes Over, where she puts her skills to use helping a range of small businesses turn themselves around. Then, of course, there’s associated projects such as her book, The Honest Truth About Life, Love and the Business of Beauty, which reveals, among other things, how breast implants nearly killed her. It’s fascinating stuff. And for the record, she says she’s a natural blonde.

Check out some of her best moments from the show below…

How do you make your own bath bombs?

15 Feb

There’s nothing like a good bath – accompanied by a good book and maybe a glass of champagne – to relax the senses after a long day. And as someone who has made an art form out of the soak, I’ve usually got unlimited quantities of bath bombs, crystals, masks and more.

But after a summer clean out inspired by a sudden disdain for ‘clutter’, I was all out. So I decided to learn how to make my own. And the fantastic CSIRO website had all the answers in their great DIY science section, which teaches kids about everything from space and biology to the brain.

But I was only interested in DIY pampering. And here’s the recipe I found . . .

Bath bombs

* Food colouring
* Flower petals or body glitter
* Sweet almond oil
* Scented oil such as lavender oil
* 10 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
* 3 tbsp citric acid
* 2 large mixing bowls
* 1 large muffin tray
* Rubber gloves
* Spoon

Grease the sides and bases of a large muffin tray with a small amount of almond oil. Place citric acid and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl. Mix together well to form the base mixture. Scoop out about half a cup and put it in another bowl. This will make about one or two bombs (depending on the mould size in your muffin tray). You could also use old plastic containers or anything that will hold a shape. Add the flower petals or body glitter to the base mixture. In the small glass jar, mix 6 drops of scented oil, 5 teaspoons of sweet almond oil and about 10 drops of food colouring. Gradually pour the oil mixture into the half cup of base mixture. While wearing rubber gloves, quickly mix it all together. The mixture is ready when it stays together in your hands without crumbling too much. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tray. Press down firmly. You can use the rest of the mixture with other types of scented oil or food colouring to make more bath bombs. Leave them in the tray to set for a few days. Carefully up-end to remove from moulds. Run a bath, hop in and drop a bomb. Watch it fizz!

Happy bathing!

What inspired Christian Louboutin to make his shoe soles red?

13 Feb

Even someone who doesn’t know much about haute couture understands the significance of a red sole on the bottom of a stiletto.

It’s the trademark of Christian Louboutin, the French shoemaker to the stars whose art has adorned the feet of everyone from Dita Von Teese, Barbie and Charlize Theron to Rihanna and Sienna Miller. It’s even been immortalised in a song by J-Lo called, unsurprisingly, Louboutins.

But I wanted to know where the inspiration to make such a bottoms up statement came from. And the answer is nail polish.

As legend tells it, Louboutin was working on a design prototype in the early days of his career and couldn’t put his finger on why the shoe wasn’t working. Suddenly he pinpointed the problem – the black sole was too dark.

Nearby, an assistant was doing her nails, so he grabbed her red polish and painted the soles. He soon realised he was on a winner and the legend was born.

These days he sells hundreds of thousands of pairs each year, not withstanding legal battles with YSL over his trademark. But even if you can’t afford to join his customer list, you can borrow his inspiration, with this Louboutin manicure.

And now back to J-Lo . . .

Who invented the safari suit?

21 Jan

There’s something about a gentleman in a safari suit that just makes you want to add the word “esquire” to his name.

Distinguished, timeless, classic. The safari suit is none of these things.  And yet its popularity has endured, long after hypercolour T-shirts have gone their way.

What I can’t figure out, though, is exactly what ensures its continued usage from one generation to the next.

Perhaps it’s the tribes of young men who rate the suits the perfect attire for professional sporting matches and pub crawls. Perhaps it’s the way they so lovingly cup the massive beer guts over which they often strain.

Either way it doesn’t matter – fashion crime is fashion crime. And I wanted to know who is responsible.

Turns out it was a designer from the usually stylish bastion we call France.

His name was Ted Lapidus, aka the ‘poet of French couture’, and his fans included The Beatles and Brigitte Bardot. He once worked for Dior and even designed uniforms for the Israeli women’s army. But his most famous legacy is the often sandy coloured two-piece, which swept the fashion world in the 1960s and 1970s and was a favourite of luminaries such as former South Australian premier Don Dustan (pictured).

Despite such a dubious legacy, Ted Lapidus Paris continues today, offering everything from clothing and accessories to perfume.

But the designer himself died in December 2008 and was buried inParis’s Pere-Lachaise cemetery, which is also the final resting place of luminaries such as Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison.