Having spent half her life onstage, whether as part the Spice Girls or as a judge on The X Factor and America's Got Talent, Mel B has taken part in so many joyous moments—both her own and those belonging to the aspiring stars who craved approval from the British pop icon.
Now it's hard not to wonder how many times over the past decade she was faking it for the cameras.
When the singer, whose real name is Melanie Brown, filed for divorce on March 20 after nearly 10 years of marriage, on first glance it looked like a run-of-the-mill state of celebrity affairs—"irreconcilable differences," a request for joint custody of her 5-year-old daughter.
But the proceedings took an as yet irreversible turn for the ugly when, on April 3, Brown obtained a restraining order against Stephen Belafonte, alleging in court documents that he had been physically and verbally abusive throughout their marriage, starting in 2007 on the night she appeared on the Dancing With the Stars finale.
Also among the disturbing allegations: that he got their nanny pregnant and used Mel's money to pay for an abortion; that he demanded she have sex with him and "random women," after which he'd threaten to release tapes he made of the encounters if she ever crossed him; and that he kept a gun in their home, despite not being allowed to have one due to a prior domestic violence conviction. (In 2003 he pleaded no contest in L.A. County to domestic battery against Nicole Contreras, the mother of his first child, and was sentenced to 36 months of summary probation and 30 days in jail; he was able to pull 20 days of community labor with Caltrans instead of jail time.)