The Spice Girl mania was the idea of executives at Toymax, who are gearing up to promote a new line of toys that hit stores next week, with a TV advertising campaign featuring Spice Girl lookalikes.
After standing in line for hours and filling out paperwork, it all came to a two-minute audition on the dance floor under the watchful eyes of the judges.
The winners were Carissa Farina, 10, as Sporty; Sarah Back, 10, as Posh; Dina Lorraine Moakley, 9, as Baby; and Nirine Brown, 12, as Scary. All the girls are from New York.
Many parents would cringe at the sight of their preteen daughters baring their midriffs and sporting rub-off tattoos, platform shoes, and clip-on navel rings. But thousands of mothers and fathers accompanied their scantily-clad offspring to the audition.
"She loves the Spice Girls, Baby Spice in particular, and Mom had to work," said 34-year-old Bill Sanger of 7-year-old daughter Brittany. "I don't want her to look back as an adult and wonder if she had the stuff to be a star."
Parents could offer only wan smiles for each other. And many didn't pretend to know a thing about the British pop group.
"Honestly, I don't know Baby Spice from heather spice," said Sanger.
"Oh Dad," said blond pony-tailed Brittany, covering her eyes. "Please, not so loud."