WALKING FROM “MAYHEM”
TO A TUBE STATION:
TOYAH: My art is based on life around me and if you call London a piece of art, a piece dog shit a piece art, then fine.
After a year at drama school I’d done some extra work at Pebble Mill and a month later a director turned up asking for me and it was for part in a play in series called Second City First and the play I was in was called "Glitter" and it sort of launched me.
When that was shown on the network, Kate Milligan and Maximilian Schell at the National Theatre were watching that play and they wanted me for the small part in “Tales From The Vienna Woods”. So I got a phone call the following day saying come down to London and I went down to London with a carrier bag and never went back.
Mayhem started off a sort of over ambitious multi-media idea and the whole idea was for anyone to go in there and try and create something.
I love objects of mystique, I’ve got a head in my room which tells you how to read bumps and things.
I don’t understand it but I love to look at it. I like strange objects that mean things of religion, things that just conjure up images in my imagination. What I do on an uninspired day I just sit in that room and look around me, look at all the different things I’ve got and just think about them.
TALKING ABOUT JUBILEE
AND THE TEMPEST:
I met Derek Jarman because while was at the National this actor arranged for me to have tea with Derek so I went along and I sat on a settee and there was this script under there called Jubilee and I just said “Can I play the part of Mad in this please?” and Derek said just “Yes”.
Derek offered me Miranda which the is first time I’ve really ever experienced Shakespeare and I was very frightened of doing it but I refused to give it up because I like a challenge and that was the biggest challenge in my acting career yet.
INTERVIEW IN A CAFÉ:
I don’t believe people ever know themselves. With actors and actresses they try so desperately to know themselves, they think they know themselves but they never do. For me, when I act I’m escaping from my own problems, it’s kind of therapeutic for me as well as of course being incredibly exciting.
There’s nothing better than being someone else, it’s sort of deceiving, it’s a sort of childish instinct in me to lie. I like acting coz it’s lying.
TALKING ABOUT “SUGAR AND SPICE”:
“Sugar & Spice” (above) is about four or five women who go back to a prostitute’s flat. One of the girls out of the window sees a gang of boys and invites them up. I’m the man hater. I fancy one of the birds and I arrange for her to have an abortion and now I have her under my thumb.
And it’s about me manipulating her and another bloke to get all their clothes off and then I start a great big fight.
TALKING ABOUT MUSIC:
A bowl of fruit painted by a man just gives you an image to look at, to think about, to stimulate your mind. I put that down to music: you listen, you think and you stimulate your mind. Without having drummed into you that “Oh there’s people out of work, there’s people on the dole, there’s people being murdered.”
So bloody what?! There always has been, there always will be. I’m just trying to offer something different. I am not PART of the old movement called punk, I am part of the future.
I don’t care how the audience response to me, I’m not there to tell them how to behave when I’m on stage. Of course coz I am a women they want to grab my body and do vulgar things. They want to fantasise about me which is fine because that’s what my music is, it’s pure fantasy.
“Insects” was inspired by when ever I walked by the audience there would be hands clambering all over my body and I just thought “Urgh- insects, insects!”. But on stage I go to the audience and just let them rip me to pieces.
TALKING ABOUT FAMILY & CHILDHOOD:
I’ve never gone hungry, I’ve never suffered through lack of money in any way. Not because of my parents anyway. They wanted the best for me like all parents do for their children. They wanted me to have a very good education, to become a polite child. To be taught good manners and have a future.
I went out with guys first when I was about 13 to 15 and then I just stopped. I never actually went out with a woman or anything … I generally thought I was a lesbian purely coz I wasn’t interested in men but at the same time I wasn’t interested in women. And that’s why I concentrated so hard on my career from such an early age.
TALKING ABOUT HER CLOTHES
AND BEING A WOMAN:
I actually have my clothes made and I think I found a designer that works with my mind. To me she’s brilliant. That’s Melissa.
I don’t think like a woman in any way really. I do put make-up on, I do care about my appearance and that’s the only female thing about me. I think like a man because I work with men. And don’t like being beaten my men. I’m a female chauvinistic pig and I like to win.
Music is an incredibly rough business. Going on tour is like that. That’ll kill me with within a year I think, being on tour. It’s the most knackering thing you can do. So acting helps bring me back down to earth again after doing a tour.
BEING INTERVIED IN A
TV-PROGRAM HOST: Toyah is more than an image. She has strong views about matters which affect young people and worry parents and opposite are three people who don’t necessarily share her views. Roger Perks- as a headmaster - Toyah had some strong criticism of the educational system, that it let a bright and articulate youngster like her slip through the net. Are you disturbed by that?
TOYAH: No I couldn’t. I was too proud. I was unhappy because I wanted to act and sing. The school I was at didn’t take that ambition seriously at all and they wanted me to be like everyone else in that class. The only thing I was encouraged to do was to pick a rich man, do needlework and do cookery.
I was chucked out of art lessons when I was about 14 and it really upset me because I loved art. And after that I just thought good riddance to you because I don’t need this schooling to get me where I want to be.
QUEST: When I find out about your promotion in a certain chain store for instance, this coming week with the album “Blue Meaning” and I see you in a series such as Shoestring, I’m wondering whether you’re not coming a victim of the system which you’re trying to criticise?
TOYAH: (laughs) I am naïve but I’m naïve in a way that I am protecting myself from becoming too bitter. I understand how the business works, I know when I’m being exploited, I know when I’m about to be exploited and that’s when I become the biggest bitch on this planet.
HOST: Let me ask Anthea McIntyre at this point: where do the kids go when they leave school- what do they have to identify with?
ANTHEA: Yes, what I tend to think is that what Toyah is offering is actually de-structive, it’s very much easier than offering something constructive and wonder if in fact Toyah isn’t exploiting this and offering them some of sort fantasy, exploiting their need for fantasy -
TOYAH: No way, (both talk at the same time) ... about helping old people and doing community work …
ANTHEA: Well that isn’t what one would identify with your image -
TOYAH: Well that’s true but as everyone’s been saying not everyone can get up on the stage and be successful, it does take a lot of luck which is what I’ve had.
QUEST: Do you not think you use punk as a little bit of a tag- you have been tagged as the professional punk?
TOYAH: No, I don’t use punk whatsoever because my philosophies are so different, my morals are so straight.
QUEST: It’s unfortunate as you say, it’s the media -
TOYAH: I’m not a punk, I’m a modern woman.
QUEST: I also think you’ve cleverer than some of the people you accuse in the music business as well.
TOYAH: Thank you! What a nice man! (laughs)
TOYAH: I’m not forcing it down anyones throat - I just happen to be pretty loud in the way I look and it gets jammed down peoples throats.
IN A TAXI AFTER THE SHOW:
MAN: I thought the funniest thing was the head master afterwards wanting your autograph for his kids, I thought that was great.
TOYAH: I thought he was really sweet.
MAN: He was.
TOYAH: I must admit I was expecting three great big thugs called National Front…uugghh (makes a monkey face)
MAN: Yeah I was as well.
TOYAH: (imitates the “thugs”) Bloody punk rocker! (both laugh)
Two years ago now we did a gig at the theatre called the ICA theatre and we got amazing reviews for it. The week the reviews came out we had a phone call from Germany and at the time I was making "Quadrophenia", I had to rush down to London, do a quick rehearsal for this record company called Safari.
They asked us to sign there and then. It meant we could become professional, we’d have regular money coming in, we could do more concerts and things. I wasn’t excited because I was worried about record companies being a bit tough and things like that. So now we’ve had two years experience, we know our capabilities. We know where we want to go and it’s all thanks to Safari allowing us to grow within our own time.
SIGNING RECORDS IN
I can’t help it if I have so much charisma I wipe four blokes off the stage - I don’t believe that’s true. If people prefer watching me it’s not through my doing. I’d say, all due respect to the band - I work harder than any of them and it’s up to them to keep up with me if they want as much publicity as I get.
There’s Cilla Black, Lulu, they’ve both done what I’ve done … I don’t know if I’m multi-media or not. I am slightly a jack of all trades but I am most definitely and actress and a singer and if that means multi-media then yes, I am. You have to package yourself, it’s form of presentation, you have to present yourself in something acceptable.
As far as being successful the desperation comes from childhood ambition of stardom. I would like to become a commercial cult figure coz I believe if you are a cult figure, your following is SO strong and so sort religious that they’re fans of yours whole of your working life. That’s the sort of audience I’m looking for, an obsessed audience.
If I wasn’t successful it would be purely because people don’t like what I am. What I’d do I’d create a character, I create the perfect person and become it, I’d be prepared to do that if I completely failed. Because I believe if you can’t beat them, join them. Then corrupt them.
INTERVIEW IN A CAFÉ:
Acting and singing are equally important that’s why I do them. Acting doesn’t take up 24 hours a day and music doesn’t take up 24 hours a day and that’s what I like: I like being busy the whole time. I like having to think the whole time.
When I’m at my tiredest I get my best ideas. So if I had to do one career I would find it incredibly frustrating coz it wouldn’t satisfy my imagination enough.
SITTING AT THER DESK
And then whisper something in my ear which I’m not going to tell you about. It’s not very nice. It’s quite obscene.
I conjured up this image and it became a repetitive nightmare after a while. Then a year ago I was given a book called The Necronomicon by HR Geiger. It’s as important as the bible but it takes a much more naturalistic view on the creation of life.
Anyway, I opened up this book and the pictures were the exact copy of the nightmares which I had when I was five years old from what the voices told me, what was said would happen to me and I had this sort of image of babies being sucked into a machine and then turned into meat to be eaten.
And just babies being fouled and debauched and sexual things that I didn’t understand at the time and it was the exact same image I had when I used to go to sleep at night.