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Scary takes cut from charity

IT WAS meant to be the start of a public relations strike back by the former Spice Girl, Melanie Brown, to win over the Australian public after what can only be described as several months of less than favourable publicity.

Still trading on her Spice Girl credentials, Mel B has waged war with the local paparazzi and has been at the centre of all sorts of hullabaloo at various bars in town, becoming a regular fixture in some of the gossip columns.

An opportunity to earn a few Brownie points came when she was asked to be the star attraction at Saturday's World AIDS Day fund-raising event, Project Red.

The former singer agreed to be MC for the day, braving the stifling heat to sip vodkas in a luxurious cabana beside the Ivy's rooftop pool, while a bevy of models splashed about in the pool, serving as perfect props in her all-important photo shoot.

All good so far, especially with the vodkamanufacturing sponsor, Belverdere, donating 50 per cent of its profits on the day to help people living with HIV/AIDS. Arise, Saint Scary!

However, PS has learned that Mel B demanded that she be paid a fee for her effort, rather than donating her services for a worthy cause, as so many other much bigger stars have in the past, including Product Red's founder Bono, Oprah Winfrey and a host of others.

''Look, she was a Spice Girl … It was only a modest fee, but yes, she was paid,'' an insider told PS.

Having had her deal exposed, with select paparazzos setting up shoots in return for a cut of the fees; having earned a hefty amount from her deal as a judge on Channel Seven's X Factor and having become a well-paid ambassador for Jenny Craig, Mel B and her husband Stephen Belafonte have managed to set themselves up nicely in Sydney in the past two years.

Apparently for Mel B, charity begins at home.