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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Kyle O'Sullivan & Frances Kindon

Where Cheeky Girls are now - botched boob jobs, selling cars and big comeback

It's been two decades since The Cheeky Girls appeared on our screens - and now the Transylvanian twins are making a comeback.

Back in 2002, Gabriela and Monica Irimia auditioned on Popstars: The Rivals wearing hot pants and were branded the 'worst act ever' by judge Pete Waterman.

However, fans adored the pair so they secured a major record deal and released debut single Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum), which went straight to number two in December 2002 and sold 1.2million copies worldwide.

They had their own album, Party Time, and four top 10 hits in the UK chats between 2002 and 2004, performing to crowds of 100,000, living in hotels and travelling the world at the height of their fame.

However, they soon found themselves at 'rock bottom' as they faced bankruptcy, battled debilitating health issues and heartbreak.

With the girls now set to release their first new single in 15 years, here is a look at what happened to The Cheeky Girls.

Gabriela (left) and Monica Irimia are The Cheeky Girls (PA)
The Popstars judges were left speechless by The Cheeky Girls' audition (PA)

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The singing sensations, who are trained ballerinas and gymnasts, started to struggle with the intense workloads and isolation plunged them into depression.

They both developed severe eating disorders, weighing in at just six and a half stone, with Gabriela later explaining their illness came on suddenly and severely after they found themselves living in a foreign country with no social lives or friends.

"It happened just like that – we didn’t have control over our life at all, over our career, so what do you control the best, what you put in your mouth basically," she said on ITV's Lorraine in 2016. "We didn’t even realise it, we were just sick overnight."

Too scared to go to glitzy events in case canapes were served, the duo cut themselves off, starving themselves secretly in their London flat for five years.

And while both have since recovered, they've been left with permanent damage including arthritis in their spines and knees, kidney stones, memory loss and digestive damage.

Gabriella added: "Our memories are quite lost now – looking back at some pictures when we travelled all around the Far East and around Europe, I’m looking at the picture and saying to myself, ‘Did I actually go there?’

"I can’t remember because I had been sick at the time."

The twins admitted they felt pressure to conform to trends in the noughties and decided to get boob jobs.

They had a number of big chart hits (Press Association)

The straw that broke the camel's back came when a busty model was chosen as the star of their Cheeky Holiday music video while Monica and Gabriela sang enviously on the shore.

Believing that bigger boobs would mean more work, they went under the knife a staggering nine times, spending £100,000 in total.

Gabriella revealed: "At the age of 19 we never really had an issue with our body, but the moment we started being pop stars and being in the glamour and being in the industry.

"It was a lot of pressure coming from everywhere so this was the first reason why we took some action – we thought it was going to make our career even better at the time.”

But their first operation was a disaster - with both girls revealing there were issues with how they looked.

Monica told the Daily Mail: "[Gabriela's] were the worst. One breast was up and one breast was down and they were facing different directions. She looked like a freak, honestly."

Describing her own, she continued: "Imagine two apples stuck on you, it looked exactly like that. It looked horrible and disgusting."

The Cheekies were given a £40,000 advance when they signed their record deal, but when the company went bust in 2003 it reportedly still owed the girls in excess of £1million.

The Cheeky Girls are both now selling cars after winding down their pop careers (ITV)

With no money coming in and bills to pay, including one for an eight-month hotel stay, the twins resorted to £300 appearances at nightclubs and holiday camps.

They even went on a tour of care homes in a desperate bid to get some money back, with Gabriela telling the Evening Standard: "For two years we worked flat out thinking we would make a lot of money. But after all that we hardly have change for a drink.

"Everybody in the street thinks we're millionaires and imagines we lead these glamorous lives but the reality is very different."

Sadly, it wasn't enough and they were declared bankrupt in 2006 owing £60,000 in taxes.

As for their love lives, Gabriela started dating much older Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik after he split from his ITV weather presenter fiancée Sian Lloyd in 2006.

At first, the 18 year age gap didn't prove to be a problem, but according to Gabriela, the romance was not a healthy one and her attention waned.

Admitting she would try to avoid his calls, she told the Daily Mail: "Not a very nice thing to do but he wanted to stay on the phone for three hours, maybe more. I would speak for three minutes and the rest was him.

"I would fall asleep on the kitchen table with the telephone to my ear at four o’clock in the morning. So tired! I couldn’t handle it any more."

Gabriela, pictured with ex Lembit Opik, and her sister had nine surgeries in total (PA)
They were together for two years (The Daily Mirror)

But their relationship wasn't to last as Gabriela reportedly dumped Lembit following a series of heated rows in July 2008.

Gabriela was last linked to a Romanian man who is not thought to be famous, while sister Monica married her fiancé of four years, Shaun Taylor, who works as a building contractor, in 2016.

The couple met in a Starbucks in central London and tied the knot in Goldsborough, North Yorkshire after he popped the question in Paris.

Her mum Magrit said at the time: "He's a very special boy. He goes to all her shows and has bought her many presents - including a car. Her engagement ring has a huge diamond."

The girls appeared on the celebrity edition of the Channel 4 reality programme Coach Trip and in 2015 Monica took part in a documentary about young people struggling to get work in the UK and Hungary.

The pair then reinvented themselves with new careers, as Gabriela became a car salesperson at a dealership in York selling new and used motors last year.

Monica then followed her twin into the world of car sales but at a different dealership in Lincolnshire, telling The Sun : "Me and Gaby need a solid business for our future and cars will always be good business.

"Being an entertainer is fantastic, but like it was with Covid, if you don’t have a solid job or business how do you survive?"

"Gigs all disappeared for two years during Covid but we didn’t stop making money. Sometimes we only sleep two-three hours to do the gigs and get to work, but it’s worth it."

The twins' mother, Margit, explained that turning to car sales was a logical step for the pair.

She said: "Let me ask you this: can you be a Cheeky Girl when you’re 60? She needs to have a business and realises that girl fashion is now cars. Women are changing their cars every year."

In February this year, Monica and Gabriela popped up on Steph's Packed Lunch to cook up a storm in the kitchen and joked they "don't age".

Monica told Steph she is the better saleswoman, saying: "I have more experience. I have been in the motor trade a bit longer than my sister!... She is older but she follows in my footsteps!"

They have now released their first track in 15 years, titled Let's Have Fun, which is a song written by their mother to commemorate their two decades in the music industry.

Discussing the track, Gabriela said: "This is to celebrate the 20-year anniversary. It’s called Let’s Have Fun. Of course, The Cheeky Girls are all about fun... It’s to celebrate life and just be happy!"

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