The Cheeky Girls were left owing thousands of pounds and “lost control” after their unexpected rise to fame, one half of the novelty duo has revealed.
Twin sisters Gabriela and Monica Irimia, from Romania, became a sensation following their appearance on talent show Popstars: The Rivals in 2002, scoring four top 10 hits despite being dubbed by music mogul Pete Waterman as “the worst act ever”.
The novelty act’s biggest hit was their single Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum), which peaked at number two in the charts, although it was later voted the worst pop record of all time in a national poll.
In recent years, the sisters have been out of the spotlight and are focusing on building new lives, and Gabriela has told of how things went “crazy” for them after their speedy ascent to global super-stardom.
She told The Guardian: “The year after the song came out was crazy. We won an award at the National Music Awards and went to the Philippines, Thailand, Japan and Malaysia. But it took over our lives.
“We didn’t have time for anything and we had no friends. We were lonely, even though we were out there performing for 100,000 people at a time.
“We lost control, so we started to obsess over what we ate and the gym. We became anorexic. Then our label Telstar went bust – it’s said they owed us over £1 million.”
Gabriela, 36, said that they had to spend two years working “just to pay back the debts they left us with”.
She said there was a hotel in London they lived at for eight months that had not been paid for.
“They came knocking, asking for £50,000,” she said.
“But we always kept a smile on our faces because we are performers, artists. We’d tasted the stage and loved it.”
Gabriela and Monica’s mother Margit, who wrote the Cheeky Song for the girls in the space of half an hour, said that she had warned her daughter that there was only “a limited time they can do this”.
She revealed they are now working on new lives doing apprenticeships and courses.
She said: “Gabriela has done three cosmetic courses and Monica is into car sales. They are passionate car drivers, both of them.”
The Cheeky Girls will perform at the Clapham Grand in London on September 6.