All Girls Together by Kathy AckerThe Spice Girls are the biggest, brashest girlie group ever to have hit the British mainstream. Kathy Acker is an avant-garde American writer and academic. They met up in New York to swap notes - on boys, girls, politics. And what they really, really want.Fifty-second street. West Side, New York City. Hell’s Kitchen - one of those areas into which no one would once have walked unless loaded. Guns or drugs or both. But now it has been gentrified: the beautiful people have won. A man in middle-aged-rocker uniform, tight black jeans and nondescript T-shirt, lets Nigel, the photographer, and me through the studio doorway; then a chipmunk-sort-of-guy in shorts, with a Buddha tattooed on one of his arms, greets us warmly. This is Muff, the band’s publicity officer. We’re about to meet the Girls …They are here to rehearse for an appearance on Saturday Night Live. Not only is this their first live TV performance, it’s also the first time they’ll be playing with what Mel C calls a ‘real band’. If the Girls are to have any longevity in the music industry, they will have to break into the American market; and for this they will need the American media. Both the Girls and their record company believe that their appearance here tonight might do the trick. There is a refusal among America’s music critics to take the Spice Girls seriously. The Rolling Stone review of Spice, their first album, refers to them as ‘attractive young things … brought together by a manager with a marketing concept’. The main complaint, or explanation for disregard, is that they are a ‘manufactured band’. What can this mean in a society of McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and En Vogue? However, an e-mail from a Spice fan mentions that, even though he loves the girls, he detects a ‘couple of stereotypes surrounding women in the band’s general image. The brunette is the woman every man wants to date. Perfect for an adventure on a midnight train, or to hire as your mistress-secretary. The blonde is the woman you take home to mother, whereas the redhead is the wild woman, the woman-with-lots-of -evil-powers.’ So who are these Girls? And how political is their notorious ‘Girl Power’?Even though I have seen many of their videos and photos, as soon as I’m in front of these women, I am struck by how they look far more remarkable than I had expected, even though Mel C is trying not to look as lovely as she is. I had intended to say something else, but instead I find myself asking them: ‘If paradise existed, what would it look like?’ Geri speaks first, and she is, I think, reprimanding me for being idealistic. ‘Money makes the world what it is today,’ she says, almost before I have time to think about my sudden outburst, ‘a world infested with evil. All sorts of wars are going on at the moment. Everyone’s kind of bickering, wanting to better themselves because their next -door neighbour’s got a better lawn. That kind of thing.’ ’Greed,’ Victoria adds.Mel C: ‘Instead of trying to be better than someone else, you have to try to better yourself.’In a few minutes, they are explaining to me that the Spice Girls is a type of paradise, Spice Girls is a lifestyle. ‘It’s community.’ That’s Geri again. She and Mel B - one in a funky, antique Hawaiian shirt, the other in diaphanous yellow bell- bottoms and top - do most of the talking. Mel C, in her gym clothes, is the quietest. Geri: ‘We’re a community in which each one of us shines individually, without making any of the others feel insecure. We liberate each other. A community should be liberating. Nelson Mandela said that you know when someone is brilliant when having that person next to you makes you feel good.”Not envious,’ adds her cohort, Mel B. These are the two baddest Girls. At least on the surface. I suspect otherwise. ‘It inspires you.’ Geri again. ‘That is what life’s about. People should be inspiring.’I can’t keep up with these Girls. My generation, spoon-fed Marx and Hegel, thought we could change the world by altering what was out there - the political and economic configurations, all that seemed to make history. Emotions and personal - especially sexual - relationships were for girls, because girls were unimportant. Feminism changed this landscape; in England, the advent of Margaret Thatcher, sad to say, changed it more. The individual self became more important than the world.