Nicole Sanders, better known by her stage name Nikki Exotika, has an ambitious goal: bring back the girl group. This isn’t just a replay of the 90’s, when all-girl bands like The Spice Girls, Pussycat Dolls, and TLC ruled the airwaves. Sanders describes her work-in-progress band, named Secret Girls, as “a cross between the Pussycat Dolls and the Spice Girls, with a transgender twist.” She is currently scouting for members who make the cut.
Sanders was born and raised in New York. “I knew all my life I wanted to be this way,” she says in her video autobiography. At school, she was bullied because “people just didn’t understand,” and she found herself channeling her emotions into singing and acting. “It has always been my passion to be a singer, an entertainer,” Sanders says.
Now she’s turning to music not only as an outlet, but also to educate others. She thinks that while shows like The Maury Show have “made people think it’s funny” to disrespect transgender people, bringing a group of talented, beautiful trans women into mainstream pop will help change that.
Sanders has wanted to start Secret Girls for years but didn’t think the United States was ready until now. She kept her dream alive by keeping tabs on the progress made by trans musicians in other countries, notably the Thai group Venus Flytrap, which was signed by Sony BMG in 2005, as well as the Korean group Lady, which dropped their first album that same year.
Sanders jokes about her range of inspirations. “I sometimes call myself Magogany,” she says, “because I’m a mixture of Madonna, Gaga, and Britney all in one.”
Now, after releasing a handful of solo singles, she is finally looking for others to make Secret Girl a reality. So far, both Sanders and auditioning singer Mimi have found the experience reaffirming.
Mimi said she never dreamed she could be an artist until she heard about Secret Girls: “I didn’t think that anyone would take me seriously [for being trans], so when this opportunity came about, then I thought it was a very good chance to put myself out there.”
Sanders agrees that meeting so many talented trans women has been inspiring. “It shows me that there are beautiful transgender women that are talented, that have voices, and we need to be heard,” she says.
While there have been no announcements as to the launch of Secret Girls, Sanders recently wrote on Facebook:
I cannot wait
2015 is gonna be a lot of hard work but it will be worth it!!!
Las Vegas better get ready for the “ª#SecretGirls”¬ shhhh!!!
To judge by her excitement, Sanders is close to finally seeing her childhood goal realized.