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Diversity5:  "Not Just Another Girl Group"
Can They Put A Headlock on the Pop Charts?

Dr. Melissa Bellin - best known to the world as Nitro Girl "Spice" - was taking time away from breaking bones to learn more about setting them.  After all, this brainy beauty leads a double life.  Dancer and professional wrestler by night - and chiropractor by day?  As unlikely as it seems, this is just another day in the life of one-fifth of the original Nitro Girls . . . who, as you already know if you are a frequent YourMVP reader, are now forming their own pop music group Diversity5.

Thoughts of a Nitro Girls reunion have had fans of the former WCW bombshells dance troupe salivating for months now.  A sighting of the group at the WWF restaurant in New York early this year set tongues wagging.  Then, on January 26, hours before announcing it to the rest of the world, the group's publicist let YourMVP in on a world entertainment exclusive:  The Nitro Girls might be only a fond memory . . . but from the ashes had come music group Diversity5.   Bellin, Teri Byrne (Fyre), Chae An (Chae), Sharmell Sullivan (Paisley) and Vanessa Sanchez (Tygress) were ready to bust out of the wrestling ring and onto the pop charts.

Melissa and I bantered back and forth for several minutes.  This was my first "meeting" with "Spice."  We would be joined shortly by Teri Byrne - the red-haired vixen known to wrestling fans around the world as "Fyre" - but Teri and I go "way back."  We spoke for the first time last spring, shortly after she abruptly left WCW and the Nitro Girls family.  She hinted at the time that something might be in the works, an all-new Nitro Girls project, but she didn't say what.  Now, a year later, the hinting is done - and so are the Nitro Girls.  Diversity5 stands in their place, and these girls are ready for a challenge!

In their first print interview since announcing the group's formation, Teri and Melissa sit down with YourMVP to discuss the group's history together, their plans for the future and why they feel that they're not "Just Another Girl Group."  Buckle your seatbelts. 

Are you ready for a Nitro Girls Three-Way (Call)?

YourMVP: It's hard to find information about you, Melissa.  Your homepage - www.MelissaBellin.com -- doesn't have much.

MB:  Yeah, we tried to do things to condense the bio page.  I have had so much posted over the years, I figured everyone basically had the bio information.  I have pretty much been performing my whole life.  Since 3 years old, always dancing, did theatre, cheerleader, dancing - always the little entertainer.  When I went to college, I was in Philadelphia and started doing more auditioning and professional gigs all the time instead of just the hobby and dance classes.  Everything just kind of

Melissa Bellin

evolved.  I moved to Atlanta to get a little bit serious in my life and become a chiropractor.  It was while I was down here that I continued dancing.  I did the Olympics and [a number of] music videos.  I had known Kimberly Page [wife of former WCW wrestler "Diamond" Dallas Page], and she tracked me down when the Nitro Girls were coming together.

And you became an original member of the Nitro Girls. 

I got into the wrestling world as I had 6 months left in chiropractic school.  I danced with them for three years. My last six months working for the company I did cohosting.  They were going to redo the Saturday morning show and offered me an opportunity to cohost - but that was around the time Turner started to do cutbacks.  When the cut the show, I was pretty much left with the option of wrestling or nothing.  I went to wrestling school.  I talked to Vince Russo at length.  I thought about it, and as a chiropractor, as a performer, but I decided that becoming a female wrestler was not my lot in life.  I decided to leave on good terms with a nice severance package.  Since then Teri and I have been putting our whole effort into the Diversity5 group and making that a reality.  We've also started our own entertainment company.  We're managing ourselves, booking ourselves, and picking up other talent in the entertainment industry - from booking dance talent to shopping scripts.  We're really branching out in some diverse ways.

I was told not to ask you any questions about WCW.

I'm sorry to have to gloss over the whole situation.

It's OK.  Let's get Teri on the line and talk about Diversity5.

<Phone ringing.>

TB:  We did it!  

MB:  Wooo-hooo!  

So, tell me, how did you segue from being dancers to being singers?

MB:  Actually, a lot of other people approached us.  Producers, friends of friends.  At first we didn't like the idea - but then we thought, "Well, we love to perform - and we always sing together."  Basically, it was just the people believing in us and coming to us that made us take that leap of faith to start the whole process.  We got with our attorneys and started to find out about different songs and different producers.  There's a lot involved.  It's been quite a road, but I'd have to say it was other people that encouraged us to do it.

How did you choose the five Nitro Girls to make the line-up?

MB:  It wasn't a choice.  The five of us have been inseparable.  We really had a natural bond.  I think it really started when Sharmell Sullivan - well, she used to be "Storm" in the Nitro Girls [and later "Paisley"] - joined us in our old wrestling organization.  The five of us started bonding and forming friendships that took us well past our work as on-air talent.  Then we all had the opportunity to work on the movie "Ready to Rumble" - what was that, Teri?  A year-and-a-half ago? 

Teri Byrne, as she appears in Playboy Magazine

TB:  Last September.

MB:  Wow.  That gave us six weeks of quality girl-time together.  We knew that we had an inexplicable bond . . .

TB:  A chemistry.

MB:  We could all be coming from the gym together, just looking torn up - just had a great work out, sweaty - and people would stop us all the time.  "Who are you girls?"  Or they knew us as The Nitro Girls.  People were always attracted to us.  Not just physically.  We had that chemistry that made people

attracted to us.  It made us say, "Hey, we've got such a special bond here.  You can't BUY this."  And it was just the extra thing that we had the diverse looking going on.  Latin.  Asian.  African-American.  Red-headed Irish sex kitten there . . . and Me, the crazy little blond Italian.  It was God guiding us together and then it was something that made so much sense that we couldn't deny it.

When you and I spoke last springtime, this wasn't on the radar yet?

TB:  Well, I can't say it wasn't going on.  It was something we were talking about.  Like Melissa said, we've all been together - even though some of us weren't on TV and we were all doing different things with our careers.  It was something so many people were approaching us with.  The number one thing I was hearing from my fans was that they missed the original team and the wanted to know when they could see us together again.  It seemed like the fans wouldn't let it go.  We were still together so much as friends, we decided to pursue it and see what happens.  At the time, we were trying to keep it on the low-low.  We weren't sure how serious we were going to be about it, so we were trying to keep it quiet until we knew what was going to happen and that we had an awesome product. 

Who is guiding the project?  Who is deciding the sound?  Is it something the girls collectively decided?  Is there a mastermind behind the project?

MB:  We definitely, collectively have equal say in what direction we want to go.  It has been an evolving process.  It really has.  We're starting on some new songs that are going to be different than what is on the website www.Diversity5.com right now.  Teri and I have been the 'masterminds' business-wise.  The other girls were still busy working with WCW [until their release this past February and the company's subsequent collapse and purchase by WWF], so Teri and I had to take the reigns to really make this more of a reality.  Everyone has equal say and contribution in what direction we're going next.

TB:  The best part about our sound is that we have a great dance song on there, which just seems natural for us to do because we've danced together for so long and fans are going to love it.  We also have a pop song on there, which is a natural progression.  Our next song is going to be a little more rock.  Our music is turning out to be as diverse as we are.  We really like that.  We haven't pigeon-holed ourselves into one genre of music.  We are able to do all of it.  We all have different sounds.  We all come from different backgrounds.  Our music is going to be a mixture of rock, pop, dance music fusion.  It makes us even more unique.

I hear the next track is going to be decidedly more rock-oriented.  Who does the writing?

TB:  We do!

MB:  Actually, the next song is one I wrote!

TB:  And it's probably going to be the hottest of the songs yet.  Very sultry.

MB:  Yeah, very sexy! 

So, you dance, you wrestle, you crack backs and you sing.  Is there anything you CAN'T do - and you're not looking to conquer?


TB:  If there is, we haven't found it yet!

MB:  Really, what has been really fun, is that we're looking at what kind of role-models we can be for women.  People get put in stereotypical categories.   People look at one person for her body.  Another person might not be so pretty, but people look at her for her brain.  We're showing that women can be sexy, be beautiful, be talented - but they don't have to stop there.  They can be a doctor.  They can be a CPA.  They can be songwriters.  They can wear sexy clothes.  We're here to show they can do it all.  You don't have to stop at doing just one thing.  That's what's so exciting.  As women, yes, we like that we have sex appeal.  We like that we can be attractive to men.  But we want to put out a message to women that they can be empowered.  Be empowered by us!

TB:  Exactly.

You have to realize that with the "girl power" theme you're telling me about - especially with the look - you're going to get compared to The Spice Girls.

MB:  We're definitely not trying to be "Girl Power."  We're trying to put out a stronger message.  We're not speaking to 10 year olds saying, "Love your best friends."  That's very important as well.  What we've all talked about, though, is that so many groups out there are very young and are appealing to the young.  While we definitely want to appeal to the young, we want to be proud that we're women.  We've got bodies.  We've got personalities.  We've got talent.  I don't think we're trying to be so cartoonish, I think, as the Spice Girls.  Teri, help me out here.

TB:  We're definitely going to be original from any other girl-group out there.  The main thing is not so much our look, it's the age-group we're in.  We're not the 17, 18-year old kids.  We're not the 20-year old boy-bands.  We're strong, independent women.  Yeah, we have a diverse look, but we're completely different in the message and the image we send.  The Spice Girls cater to young girls junior-high age.  I think we're going to be appealing to a more adult audience.

Teri, Melissa says you're not trying to be cartoonish, but, Teri, you're launching your own comic book line!

TB:  I know!  I'm so excited about that.  You know what, though?  My comic character is perfect for me:  she's a  bounty hunter!  She's very strong.  She's independent.  She's feminine.  She has a softer side, but she's tough.  It's very different than many of the comics out there.  The comic [entitled "Stiletto"] will be published by Gypsy Press and will actually debut at the Wizard World convention in Chicago on August 17.  The book hits the nationwide newsstands in October.  There is a preview available at www.GypsyPressComics.com.  The artwork is HOT, I assure you!

What made you decide to do that project?

TB:  When I left my previous job in the wrestling industry, it was a natural transgression to go into the comic industry.  I had several artists - such as Dorian Cleavenger,

The women of Diversity 5

widely considered the most influential artist in the fantasy genre, and Monte Moore - do illustrations based on my likeness. They were a huge success with my fans.  I crossed over into a new genre and started appearing at the comic conventions.  More and more artists became familiar with me and started doing work based on me.  Soon I had a whole collaboration of artwork.  From there, several different comic book companies approached me.  Now I've finally found a comic book company I think is going to do an awesome job.  I really like the concept they have.  David Nestler and Matt Hughes are doing covers.  Deacon Black is the chief pencil artist for the interior of the book. His work is really phenomenal.  I'm really fortunate.  There are so many great artists that are going to be working on this project together, I don't know how it couldn't be a success.

I've seen some of the artwork that's been done, and you have some pretty interesting fantasy art of you.

TB:  I know. I know!  And I seem to have new artwork popping up every month!  I also hope to have all of my artwork published this Fall, so keep your eyes on the magazine stands.

Melissa, any aspiration to follow in Teri's footsteps into fantasy artwork?

<Laughing from all.>

MB:  Well . . . uhm . . . You see . . . I'm the flirty little playful one of the group.  If they were to do any fantasy artwork of me,  it would be like the "Power Puff Girls." 

TB:  She's a total Power Puff Girl!

MB:  I'm "Bubbles" of the Power Puff Girls.  I'm the biggest defender of my girls.  I'm the total cheerleader - but not in an annoying way.  At least I'd like to think I'm not too annoying. 

TB:  Not at all.

MB:  I try to be the fun, the positive, upbeat voice that rallies everyone.  Teri's character is like her personality, which is strong, it's intense.  Me?  I just don't know what people would do fantasy art on me.  If any of us out of the group would be a cartoon - in the traditional sense, though - it would be me.

TB:  They could do a cartoon for Saturday morning on you.

MB:  I actually looked into doing cartoon voiceovers - because that's my personality.  I'm the bubbly one of the group. 

So, how do Sharmell, Vanessa and Chae find time to work on this project with you? [At the time, all three were still with WCW in on-air roles.  Since they have been released from their contracts.]

TB:  It is a challenge.  All three are doing so much traveling.  And then the five of us  have so much to do as a group.  We're in vocal lessons regularly.  We're rehearsing.  We're writing songs.  And we're in the recording studio working on new music.  That's where Melissa and I come in.  We're coordinating travel schedules and making sure that, when we're here, we're making the most of our time.

Where are you planning to take this music?  Are you promoting it to radio and video outlets?

TB:  That's the next step. 

MB:  We're working on a commercial.  Right now we're promoting ourselves independently.  Our attorney is shopping for record labels for us.  We've had a producer come to us with the idea of starting a little mini-series on our website. 

TB:  A web drama.

MB:  Basically we would have a little five minute drama that would be on the site.  We've got a hot poster that just came out.  And then there's our next single.  We're working on other songs and video compilation.  There are things that we'll only offer on the website - keeping true to our internet fans that have helped launch our careers.  That's why we've decided to start here!

And we thank you.  Was all this the reason you were recently spotted at the WWF restaurant in New York?


MB:  I suppose we can say what we were doing up there now, right Teri?

TB:  I suppose we can!

MB:  We were up there meeting with one of the marketing groups interested in possibly promoting us.  We were meeting with members of the Gray Alliance.  They were having a big launch party promoting the Pantene Pro V tour.  We just had to go over [to WWF New York], since we were right there in Times Square.  We ended up causing quite a stir. 

TB:  Yeah, it was amazing.  We were barely out of the limo and we were having pictures taken.  It was crazy.

MB:  The managers didn't know what to do!  They were like, "Do we kick them out?  Do we let them stay?"  We had a 10-minute photo shoot. 

It certainly threw your names up all over the internet again.

TB:  That's awesome though!

MB:  It caused quite a controversy, but we love that.  It was fun.

So what should we expect next from you?

Diversity 5

TB:  I don't know if the next thing will be the poster or the next singles.  We're also working on the commercial.  We're also going to be playing the CD on the radio soon.  We've got a lot of great things coming up.

And we can expect the comic on stands in October?

TB:  Absolutely.

I can't let you go without asking if there's anything additional planned with Playboy.  Last time we spoke, you were just hot off doing a pictorial.

TB:  That's right.  I really enjoyed doing Playboy.com.  I had so many fans email me and come to me about that pictorial, but I really don't have any plans to go forward with that. 

Too bad! 

The fans' next chance to see Diversity5 perform LIVE in person will be on Saturday, June 14th at the SPLASHDOWN 2001 event in Somerset, New Jersey.  This is one of the biggest independent pro wrestling cards of the year and will feature, amongst other stars: Jerry Lawler, The Kat Stacy Carter, Road Dogg, Brian Christopher, Disco Inferno, Shane Helms, Kevin Sullivan, Crowbar, Daffney, Hacksaw Jim Duggan Gorgeous George, Tammy Stych....and a special appearance and speech by Bret "Hitman" Hart.  Tickets can be ordered by calling 732-715-7530.  If you mention "YourMVP" when you call, we will give fans $5 off each ticket they order!!!  Diversity5 and the wrestlers will also be having a special "after party" that ONLY fans with tickets can attend.

Interviewed and written by Paul E. Pratt

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