Daphne and Celeste were, with all due respect, not the greatest singers in the world. They didn’t have perfect pitch, or an operatic range, but they did have something that even Simon Cowell can’t buy you… they had personality. And, as my buddy Jules will tell you, personality goes a long way. The act was, undoubtedly, “1000% manufactured”… two aspiring American actresses cast in the role of perky pop chipmunks, and condemned to live in a crappy, booby-trapped flat in dreary England, from which their only escape was schlepping their way through a succession of demanding and bewildering public appearances and performances. Frankly, I’m amazed they came out of it as sane and sober as they did. While the music their writers/producers/captors created for them has been dismissed as annoying and unworthy, our heroines were, as noted by the NME, “excellent pop stars”. Smart, funny and adorably snarky, they name-checked John Waters, bragged about being sodomised by Marilyn Manson, and casually bitched about any effete indie shoegazer who got in their way. In short, they were the funnest thing to happen to pop-culture in years. What other “teeny-bopper” act would refer to their home-state (New Jersey) as “murder capital of the world” in the candy-coloured booklet that accompanied their debut CD? Personally, I still get a good buzz out of We Didn’t Say That!… the banter between the songs always cracks me up, and the tunes have an infectious, insistent energy that probably would have earned them even more fans stateside, if they hadn’t imploded before they could cash in on the cheerleading craze that Bring It On brought on.
But the party had to end eventually, and I think we can all agree that the come down officially kicked in when they were bottled off the stage at the Reading and Leeds Festivals back in 2000. The plucky duo had only agreed to do the gig in the first place so they could meet their idol Eminem, but he backed out at the last minute, leaving them to face the angry mob of pissed-up rock fans alone. For me an extra layer of pathos is added by the fact that in an earlier interview, Daphne had confessed to TotP magazine* that she was born blind in one eye. Now, throwing a bottle of urine at another human being is pretty low to begin with, but throwing said bottle at a girl with impaired depth perception is just plain evil. To her eternal credit, she didn’t play for sympathy… she just took it on the chin, and laughed the whole thing off. Personally, I think that makes her a hell of a lot tougher than any of the rockers who were performing that year! Jersey, represent.
“But”, I hear you cry, “where are they now?” Well, Celeste Cruz played a very endearing, and pivotal, role in a crime thriller called Brooklyn Bound, and more recently cropped up in a third-season episode of 30 Rock (‘Generalissimo’). Karen “Daphne” DiConcetto has had a few minor film roles, but has also found acclaim as a comedy writer. In 2007 she co-wrote (and starred in) a satirical play called I Dig Doug, which, a review at TheatreMania claimed, “delivers more than its share of laughter… the pace remains brisk despite numerous scene and costume changes… there’s also a final twist at the end that helps to make the piece as a whole delightfully satisfying.” So there. Apparently it also won an “Outstanding Play” award at the 10th annual New York International Fringe Festival. Presumably this is what led to DiConcetto, and her writing partner Rochelle Zimmerman, penning an episode of the musical comedy series Ruby and the Rockits. Unfortunately, their episode (‘Smells Like Teen Drama’) was the last one to air, after the show was cancelled.
I don’t know what the future holds for either young lady, but I wish them all the best. It’s weird to note how in their homeland they’re relative unknowns, while in my eyes they’re already total stars. They’ve paid their dues in full, and deserve far more fame and fortune than– OMG, is that Tom Cruise!?
* That’s right, I’m citing Top of the Pops magazine as a credible source. Deal with it.