Sex, spice and the bitter realities of fame? Ooh, baby, baby.
Cheryl “Salt” James and Sandra “Pepa” Denton unwrap their truths in the new “Salt-N-Pepa” biopic, which airs on Lifetime this Saturday. The three-hour movie follows the pair — played by GG Townson as Salt and Laila Odom as Pepa — as they record a hit single in a New York City public bathroom, eventually becoming the first female rap act to achieve certified-platinum status.
“Nothing was off-limits,” Pepa, 54, told The Post of re-creating the duo’s story. “It was important for us to be vulnerable and honest while making this movie,” Salt, 53, added.
But for the “Let’s Talk About Sex” luminaries, who share executive producer film credits with fellow female rap pioneer Queen Latifah, diving back into their pasts took an emotional toll.
Pepa struggled to justly depict her allegedly abusive relationship with ex-husband Anthony “Treach” Criss of hip-hop collective Naughty by Nature. Treach denies the abuse.
“In the movie, I didn’t just want to focus on the negative things between us,” Pep said of her turbulent past with the “O.P.P.” emcee. “I wanted to be fair to [Treach] and show that despite the bad, he was a good guy, too.”
Cheryl “Salt” James (right) and Sandra “Pepa” Denton push it through the highs and lows of fame in the Lifetime biopic “Salt-N-Pepa.”Sophy Holland/ Courtesy of Lifet
Salt revealed her battle with bulimia during the height of the Grammy Award-winning group’s success. Her eating disorder contributed to the temporary disbandment of Salt-N-Pepa in the early 2000s.
“I developed bulimia from the pressure of performing and having to live my life out in the public eye,” Salt told The Post, noting it was the most difficult trauma to relive for the film.
In the mid-’80s, the best friends went from being average teenagers working part time as Sears telephone solicitors to international music icons in a matter of months.
Shortly after a kismet meeting in the lunchroom of Queensborough Community College, then-students James, a bashful introvert, and Denton, a gregarious socializer, skyrocketed to fame as Salt-N-Pepa in 1986.
Capturing the heart of the streets with hip-hop classics “The Showstopper,” “My Mic Sound Nice” and “I’ll Take Your Man,” the pioneering pair were apprehensive about releasing what would become their biggest-selling hit, “Push It.”
“When we first recorded ‘Push It’ in a bathroom in Brooklyn,” Pepa told The Post, “we were so worried the streets were going to hate us for making a pop song.”
Actresses GG Townson (left), playing Salt, and Laila Odom, as Pepa, give life to the “Push It” queens in the “Salt-N-Pepa” Lifetime movie event. Lifetime
GG Townson, as Salt, and Laila Odom, as Pepa, in a scene from the Lifetime movie event. Lifetime
Actresses GG Townson, as Salt, and Laila Odom, as Pepa, as the ’80s icons. Lifetime
Amazon will open a “pop-up” vaccination site in Seattle, Wash….
Little did they know that their restroom recording would serve as the catalyst for their string of sultry, female-empowering chart-toppers including “Shoop,” “Whatta Man” and “Ain’t Nuthin’ But a She Thing.”
“We were never afraid to talk about sex,” Salt said. “Talking about sexuality and being a strong voice for young women just came naturally.”
Trailblazers of the lady rap community — influencing the likes of today’s hip-hop heroines Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion and City Girls — Salt-N-Pepa’s story is one of power and perseverance.
“People will get to see the struggle we endured as female rappers in a male-dominated industry,” Pep said of the biopic.
“We had to fight for our voices to be heard,” she added.
Following the film’s premiere, Salt-N-Pepa is poised to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys in March, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the spring.
The dynamic duo also launched a makeup line with Milani cosmetics, as well as an herbal supplement brand. And while they haven’t made concrete plans to get back into the studio, the “I Am Down” rappers are open to releasing new music.
“With this movie, and in everything we do, we want people to be inspired,” the pair agreed, emphasizing their motto: “No matter what, just keep pushing.”