Inside the Backstreet Boys' Epic Spice Girls Transformation & What It Means for Joint Tour Hopes! (Exclusive)
By Leena Tailor
They almost broke the internet with their epic transformation into the Spice Girls and now the Backstreet Boys are revealing what went into becoming the “Spice Boys,” which member was in on the plans and what the mind-blowing fan response means for potential collaborations between the two pop powerhouses.
The quintet, who shared new photos of their transformation with ET, channeled the Brit ladies during a “Party Like It’s 1993” theme night, on their recent fan cruise around the Caribbean.
Howie Dorough dressed as Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice), Kevin Richardson as Victoria Beckham (Posh), AJ McLean as Mel B (Scary Spice), Brian Littrell as Mel C (Sporty Spice) and Nick Carter as Emma Bunton (Baby Spice).
And, it turns out one of the girls was in on the hilarious gag -- and all for it!
“Mel C recently opened a show we did in Dubai and I actually told her, ‘Just to give you a heads up … on this cruise we’re going to be dressed up as you guys! But it’s all for fun,’” Dorough tells ET during an exclusive interview to celebrate the release of the boy band’s catchy new single, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart. “She actually had a good chuckle about it.”
While word is that it was bandmate Carter’s idea to dress as the “Wannabe” singers, Dorough said he went along with it because he’s a “team player,” but the first hurdle was deciding whom everyone should be.
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Naturally, some matches were more obvious than others, with Carter previously telling ET, “It’s funny because she’s Baby Spice and I guess I’m Baby Backstreet.”
“It was funny because we were throwing around who should be who and at one point, everyone was like, ‘Howie should be Scary,’ and AJ goes, ‘No, I wanna be Scary!’” Dorough explains. “Then it was, ‘Howie should be Sporty Spice,’ and Brian’s like, ‘Oh, heck no.’ Of course, Brian’s got to be Sporty.”
“Nick had to be Baby Spice with his blonde hair and with Kevin, it just seemed right for him to be Posh,” the 44-year-old continues. “So, it was like, ‘Howie’s meant to be Ginger.’ Which is fine because I remember talking to her in the past and I’m part Spanish and she’s got some Spanish in her, so I was honored to be her.”
“The hardest part was the emotion of putting that dress over my body and slipping on the boots and into the long wig,” Dorough says. “The wig wasn’t that bad because I used to have long hair back in the day, but the hair getting caught in your mouth is annoying! I didn’t go full out and shave my whole body -- that would have taken me too long to manscape everything.”
“I’d never worn stilettos before and I think I’ll never wear them again because my feet are still hurting from them and I give props to you ladies, who can do it,” Dorough adds. “I probably should have practiced walking in them. I lasted an hour-and-a-half before we finally changed because we were going to be [partying] the whole night long … and girls were trying to get pictures underneath our dresses!”
Bunton has since given Carter her seal of approval for his costume, tweeting, “Love it!!!! In fact, I want that dress!” However, Dorough’s waiting to hear what Halliwell thought of his getup, which featured a sparkly Union Jack dress like the one Halliwell made famous in the group’s heyday.
“I didn’t get a chance to talk to Geri, but hopefully she will not be too mad at me the next time I see her,” Dorough says. “I didn’t want to disgrace her in any way, so I’ll tell her that next time I’ll shave my beard off and the hair off my chest. If we ever do it again, which I hope is not anytime soon, I’ll try and take it more seriously!”
Given how much the “Spice Boys” garnered so much attention, fans of both groups are eager to know whether the two bands might collaborate at some point. Talk of a joint tour has been brewing for years, since McLean confirmed to Rolling Stone in 2015 that the two groups had been discussing the idea. Dorough says the popularity of the "Spice Boys" and the success of the Backstreet Boys’ 2011 jaunt with New Kids on the Block, as supergroup NKOTBSB, means they remain open to more such tours.
“It’s interesting now with these supergroups touring together,” Dorough says. “We had a great tour with New Kids on the Block and we’ve thrown out the idea of doing something internationally with Take That. But the Spice Girls are probably next level. They came out the same time as us and had massive worldwide success, which is something we were also blessed with, so we’ve thrown out the idea. Nick’s friends with Baby Spice after Boy Band and we’ve caught up with Mel B on America’s Got Talent, so we’ve definitely talked about it. And, Mel B has been talking to some of her girls about it.”
“I think it’s harder as women [to go on a big tour] though,” adds Dorough, who has two children with his wife of 10 years, Leigh. “We’re blessed that our wives are able to stay at home with the kids and stuff like that, but with being a mother and having kids, it’s definitely harder trying to wrangle the five of them together, versus us. But the door’s open, so down the line if it’s meant to be, we’d love to do it.”
Fans are also eagerly hoping the group will revive another highlight of the cruise -- performing their entire 1999 smash record, Millennium, as well as hits from its 2000 follow-up, Black & Blue.
In the meantime, the boys are busy promoting “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” which marks their first new release in almost five years and is the first single from their forthcoming 10th studio album, expected to be released by RCA Records later this year. The track, written by L.A. singer-songwriter Wrabel and produced by Stuart Crichton and Jamie Hartman, rapidly shot to number one on the iTunes chart and is accompanied by a fun video choreographed by Rich + Tone Talauega, which hit two million views within 24 hours and showcases the band’s unwavering dance abilities.
“For now, we’re here in L.A. rehearsing our choreography for the song and we’re just really excited to get the single out there,” says Dorough, who was thrilled to hear the song on the radio for the first time, while en-route to join Wrabel to check out a special mural in honor of the track on Melrose Ave in Los Angeles, California.