BBC RADIO 4
BBC RADIO 4
HOST ANTHONY CLARE: Toyah Willcox, singer, songwriter, National Theatre actress and what the popular press used to call The Princess Of Punk was born on 18th of may 1958, in Birmingham, the youngest daughter of a well-to-do factory owner.
She spent the first ten years of her life in and out of hospitals receiving treatment for a congenital spinal disorder. At school she was the victim of bullying because of her fragile physique, lisp and dyslexia and she left with one O level, in music.
She went to drama school, had a spell as an angry punk star, acted in a number of films and on stage with the National Theatre. In 1986 she married Robert Fripp, founder and the guitarist of the 70’s band of King Crimson.
Toyah Willcox, how do you feel about talking about yourself?
TOYAH: Oh, I don’t mind. I’m very used to talking about myself. Professionally I’ve talked about myself for the last 14 years. It’s an important way of selling who you are.
HOST: When you say professionally you’ve talked about yourself, do you mean that there’s a sort of package Toyah Willcox that you’ve talked about?
TOYAH: Yeah, I think there was. I think clearly for a specific concentrated piece of time probably around 1980 to 1983 when I was just so huge as s singer I was doing 14 interviews a day and I clearly was becoming the persona of the interviews rather than the singer or the actress.
HOST: And did you learn anything about yourself?
TOYAH: I’m very puzzled by it because at 34 I have such different values. 10 years ago when I was 24 all I wanted was fame. And to sing and to be in front as many people as possible basically showing off. Saying "this is Toyah, love me."
At 34 I’m starting to think about things like loneliness and I really don’t have a close family around me. I have mum and dad and a brother and sister who I love very much and love more and more as I get older but I’m seriously doubting who I am as a purely private person.
HOST: Go on.
TOYAH: Erm, I … the man I chose to marry lives and works abroad and that’s absolutely fine by me. We see each other for two weeks every other two months (chuckles) I laugh because I complain about this yet at the same time I must admit it allows me my career.
Neither of us want children but this could be a purely chemical thing of just being broody and hormonal changes but children have a huge effect on me now that they never have done in the past.
Just recently a friend of mine lost his wife and they had 4 children so I find myself each Saturday looking after the children, going out with them, shopping and stuff. And that’s been the most intensely powerful influence on my life ever.
HOST: But you had yourself sterilised?
TOYAH: Yeah, I’m sterilised - it’s reversible. I’m not interested in having babies I must say at the same time.
HOST: But you said "reversible" very quickly?
TOYAH: (laughs) Coz I keep my options open. I don’t think I will ever have a child.
HOST: Why did you have it done in the first place?
TOYAH: I was very ill, and I was advised. Part of the things I was born with and I’ve got no idea what it was means - I have deformed intestines so I had a block in the intestines and it was pushing the womb out and causing severe infection in the ovaries and the doctor said well, you know we’ve got to clean your intestine out and we also advice that you’re sterilised because you’ve stated quite strongly that you don’t want children and it would protect the ovaries.
HOST: When was that?
TOYAH: When was it? Ooh, the year after I married. Did I marry in '86?
HOST: It was before you were 30?
TOYAH: Yeah. Oh, yeah. And I was very very poorly. It took quite a few years to get over it.
HOST: Leaving aside the spinal disorder and what it had done to your insides and so on, why did you had decided so firmly at a young age that children were not for you?
TOYAH: Erm, I really can’t bear the family unit within which I was brought up. And I say within which I was brought up because I don’t believe it’s the same now. I seem to have been brought up by a rule book rather than what my needs were as a person. And what my individual needs were in how bright I was, what I was good at and of course the physical side of me.
I felt I was brought up very much by the golden rulebook of middle classdom. And I came away from home very angry, very claustrophobic within any form of family structure. And it’s taken me years to get over that and stop mistrusting it.
HOST: Who would’ve written the rulebook in your family? Was it your father (Beric, above with Toyah), your mother?
TOYAH: I think it was all part of post-was snobbery. They had lots of money, they’d fought for their money. They’d had a horrendous time during the war and they wanted the best for their children and I just think it was one these classic things were the media dictated what the best was.
HOST: What sort of man was your father?
TOYAH: Oh, a wonderful man! A nutcase!
HOST: In what way?
TOYAH: A free spirit. But very loving, very supportive. When ever I was seriously ill he’d be the one that would sit with me. He’d sit by the bed. And when I had attacks in the night he was inevitably the one I’d scream for. His presence calmed me. There’s a little sphere of perfection and I only remember the good points about my father.
I can’t really remember the bad points about him. Yet there must’ve been, I know in my teens when he was very worried about my behaviour he would actually physically put me in my room and wouldn’t let me out until I’d done my homework. And I started to loathe him during that period.
HOST: And … is he dead?
TOYAH: Oh no, he’s alive.
HOST: Yes. Your mother?
TOYAH: My mother as a mother at that age was very loving. Very supportive. But I think as a sensitive child I could sense her frustration all the time. She was probably the most beautiful, physically beautiful person I’ve ever known in my life. And I think motherhood was a bind to her. I don’t think she wanted it but she was an orphan.
She was a dancer, was frightened about her future and got married very young. I could always sense, not a resentment but a frustration with her. And she was a very good mother to me because she had a lot to tolerate.
HOST: With your illnesses and everything?
TOYAH: Well, I was a slow learner, it upset her that I had to have physiotherapy and go into hospital. What I went through and for her to have to watch me go through it upset her and made her over-protective. And if one is to pick bad points I can remember I wasn’t allowed to play outside the house in the street.
Firstly because she was afraid I’d be abducted and murdered which she talked about a lot which gave me a lot of fear and I don’t know where it came from. I don’t know what made her like this.
But if I’d got out the house and went to play with the kids in the street she’d say things you know, "you must not play with them, you’ll get an accent. You’ll get a Birmingham accent." And then it started "no you can’t go on the bus on your own, no you can’t go down to the shops on your own, you might be murdered."
And I kind of was terrified of going out of the house. But apart from that my mum in her way was quite wonderful. Because she wasn’t happy but she did it and I think that’s a very dated form of sacrifice. I don’t think women have to do that anymore.
HOST: Did you resent it? Knowing that there was a sacrifice going on and that you were a part of it?
TOYAH: No, it hurt. It just hurt. Hurt that she hurt. I think the worst time for me was that when I hit a stage where I felt that the world wasn’t going to hurt me anymore having been deeply psychologically bullied at school. A lisp does make you sound easy pickings. The bullying was never physical, it was psychological.
And I think that’s the worst form of torture you can put anyone through. Because I couldn’t verbally attack back, they’d say something to do with my intelligence or how stupid something sounded that I’d just said … it would take me about half an hour to think of a reply.
And I’d had enough kind of sleepless nights crying over this. Because it does really attack your self-esteem and I went through a period of phenomenal realisation quite early in your life which you do when you lay in bed awake at night. And I thought "no, no one’s going to hurt me anymore" and that next day I went in and I smashed that bully full in the face. And nothing but a reputation of fear followed me after that. And it was a remarkable turnaround. And I actually spent my puberty being very violent.
HOST: Physically violent?
TOYAH: Physically violent.
HOST: Did – was there much hitting in the family?
TOYAH: Oh, yeah. We were a very physical family. My father, when I say he was nutcase, he was at one point a very heavy drinker. And when I was about five he lost everything overnight, he went bankrupt. Lost the lot.
HOST: The whole business?
TOYAH: Yeah. I don’t know what happened, it was in the share slump. And suddenly this very happy man was just destroyed. And that was hard to watch. He’d come home crying. I think there’s nothing worse than seeing your father cry.
You can understand your mother crying coz we’re all conditioned that women cry. But to see dad cry and to see him shut himself in a room and cry was very hard and very hard that no-one told you why he was crying.
HOST: But was he physically violent towards you?
TOYAH: No, never, never. Not a physically violent man.
HOST: Often the daughters of the fathers who drink, develop feelings of considerable guilt and they lack self-esteem.
TOYAH: No, I used to drink with him.
HOST: You identified?
TOYAH: Yeah. And my family did enjoy seeing me drunk. And I’m not saying that in a criminal sense but they used to just ply me with wine and I’d do hysterical things.
HOST: What age would you be?
TOYAH: I think that started when I was about 7. The anarchy in our family was encouraged and think my mother was trying to hold us together. We never ate together, except at Xmas (chuckles) - Xmas Eve. And occasionally on Saturdays we’d eat together and that’s when my brother and sister would start plying me with wine and stuff.
In my teens I drank more with my father. And my father always enjoyed the trouble I got in. He used to laugh, I mean once mum had had her crying fit and slammed all the doors, dad would come out laughing.
HOST: A picture I get of the Willcox family is not a place really that one went home for the comfort and a shared warmth, more a - a bit of battlefield. Testing but a battlefield?
TOYAH: No, there was no comfort to go home to in my adolescence. I mean I could never go to my mother for advice. A key moment was, I suppose I was afraid of mother in many ways because my mother was a volatile woman, purely I think frustrations make you volatile.
And she never told me about my periods. And when my periods started I was terrified, it took five days before I could tell anyone. Coz I thought I was dying. And actually when I plucked up the courage to tell her she was fabulous. But the barrier between us was quite huge, it was hurdle.
HOST: Was there a point at which this rather loose connection between five individuals fragmented, totally?
TOYAH: Yes, I think there was point when mum and dad wondered whether they could go on together. Whether that is true or not I don’t know because they would’ve never talked about with us. I just presume that because you have take into consideration that at this point I was out every night, all night and was only turning up when I felt like it.
And I just don’t think they felt I could handle their problems as well. I do know there was a time when mum went to the Samaritans about me. She used to say to me things like "you are not my daughter, you are not the girl I gave birth to." Coz I changed so enormously in my teens. And -
HOST: I mean physically you changed, you changed your hair, that’s when you became a punk?
TOYAH: Yeah, everything became externalised. I mean I was dressed in black, I’d dye my hair and if I wasn’t dying my hair I was shaving my head. She just didn’t know what I was going to do next. So never knew what was going on, she just had no control over me whatsoever. But she did go through a time where she talked to doctors about me, she thought I needed treatment, she was frightened of me, which didn’t help.
HOST: She was frightened of you?
HOST: Physically? What - that you might beat her up?
TOYAH: Well, I did once –
HOST: Did you?
TOYAH: I was – when I was 14 I started going to theatre school in the evenings and at weekends. Coz I knew that was all I wanted to do in life. And at the end of these terms you’d have a production. And it was very ramshackle and lovely and exciting. It was in the old Birmingham Rep Theatre and it smelt of theatre.
And I felt so at home there and I felt needed there and I just loved the people because they were all extrovert and wacky. I was doing the end of term show and I looked out into the audience and there was my mother. And I hadn’t invited her. And I was in an absolute rage.
And she was doing - at this time she was doing everything she could to make friends with me. But every effort she made, made me feel worse towards her. Made me feel more put upon and trapped. So to see her in the audience, smiling and supportive, I could cry thinking about it now, I got home and I just punched the hell out of her.
And I went for her with a pair of scissors and she never forgave me for that. And I’m talking about a very tough woman here. My mother’s a very tough woman. She doesn’t open out and talk about herself. I don’t know about her background. I know she’s orphaned and she can’t talk about her childhood. On my 12th birthday for example, we couldn’t’ find her.
And I went to school and was called into the school headmistresses office to be told that mum was found under my brother’s bed with a burst gallbladder. And for all intentions was not going to come out from under the bed. And had to have serious removal of internal things. I don’t know quite what happened but she would’ve died and she didn’t tell anyone about it.
HOST: You said she never forgave you? Was that a figure of speech or is that a statement if absolute fact?
TOYAH: I think if you come to blows like that with someone, I think there is forgiveness but you don’t forget.
HOST: Do you want her to forgive you?
TOYAH: No, I don’t feel guilt. I understand why I felt like that then. And mum doesn’t seem to understand there is nothing she could’ve done for me. I’d hit anything that I thought did wrong.
HOST: Is that because you didn’t care?
TOYAH: I didn’t care. No.
HOST: Was this a way of coping with that other fear that was there latent, you know your mother’s fear of death, your mother’s fear of abduction? Had you - is this a reaction formation? Had you just become a person who didn’t give a damn? Yes, it was a fearful world -
TOYAH: Oh yeah. Yes, the death wish was very strong. The death wish came about 11. I have no fear of death whatsoever. And I think Birmingham at that time was an aggressive place. I don’t think it is now. But there was a lot of gang warfare, street fights going on. And I actively got involved.
HOST: In retrospect, as you look back, and people listening will say my God how would one have brought up this bundle of complex emotions and accepting of course that it’s in the context of this family … how else might it have been? You must wonder yourself? How different might it have been?
TOYAH: If I was passive, I’d loathed to think because I was being educated to marry a rich husband and have children. There’s a part of me that can play any part I’m offered. And if things were different, if dad hadn’t lost his money, if mum was a little more liberal in her upbringing I think I would’ve become a couchpotato, I really do.
It’s all these kind of things that I went through with them, the claustrophobia and having to fight for what I believed in that gave me my freedom.
HOST: What about other ways that adolescent girls often manifest or carry the disturbances of a family. Did they affect you, like eating disorders, anorexia, did you go through any of that?
TOYAH: I view it as a positive stage in my life, when I was about 14 I lost a lot of weight, but it was only the puppy fat. And mum was absolutely fabulous during that. Coz she knew I’d eat once a day and she didn’t try to encourage me to eat any other time. And at this particular time I was going out to discos virtually every evening and stuff. And started to look quite beautiful and it was the first time boys were interested in me.
And that was quite exciting, it was quite nice. Because I wasn’t afraid of femininity, I’d always been very boy’ish up until then. And to have boys attracted to you was so complimentary, it was – made you feel so proud of yourself. And it was the glitter stage, you know Marc Bolan was a big star. I was wearing my platforms and glitter in my hair and on my face and my mother actually loved that stage. She loved me dressing up and extrovert.
HOST: Were you promiscuous?
TOYAH: Oh, never. No. Even though it was nice having boys look at you I didn’t want that complication in my life. And I actually saw boys as an enemy. I had a true love during the time that died, who was killed. I never got over that, well I have now.
I’ve come to terms with it now. But it took a long time to get over that because I wasn’t very nice to him. But I treated him like shit because he loved me. Which is a stage I think you go through at that age.
HOST: What age was that?
TOYAH: I was 14, he was 17 when he died.
HOST: You say he was killed?
TOYAH: A motorbike accident. And it just really made me realise how fragile life is. And I – my priorities were my career from a very early age. When I got involved with drama school that became the one thing I achieved at. And I wasn’t going to bugger that up. Whereas I really did deliberately bugger everything at school.
HOST: Now, cliched question in a way, how much was the drama school a therapy? Did you, incidentally, during all of this, did you ever get hauled off to see a psychiatrist?
TOYAH: No. I went through the stage where mum believed I was possessed by the devil during the violent stage. She actually said to people "this is not my daughter, she’s possessed by the devil." So I was christened when I was 14 and a religious, erm, what is it called? Religious counselling.
HOST: How did you feel about being christened at 14?
TOYAH: Very stupid! (laughs) I was terribly embarrassed but everyone knowing how bad everything was and no-one would come forward to become my Godmother, no-one wanted to know!
HOST: Why did you go along with it?
TOYAH: I felt, well, I feel really stupid and in a way I felt external things were attacking me. There was so much going on in the house. I have to go step deeper here, erm, I believe in telekinetic energy, specially between women. And when my sister was in the cancer wards, dad was in doldrums about money and there was me going through what ever I was going through, there were things going on in the house that were unexplainable.
I mean doors were slamming on their own and experiences like dad coming running out of these rooms saying "there’s a woman in there!" Dad and Nicky, my sister, woke up one night with this woman at the foot of their beds and they were woken by the bedclothes being pulled off. And dad put this down to someone who had died that Nicky was very close to. While in the meantime I get up the next morning and all the wallpaper in my bedroom is lying on the floor soaking wet.
And no-one can explain these things so mum absolutely freaked out, phoned the Samaritans and said "there is something seriously wrong with my daughter. She is possessed by the devil." So we have religious counselling. And the priest – well, the vicar said "I don’t think your daughter needs an exorcism, this is part of puberty."
HOST: Tell me something else. You were difficult in a number of ways, there was all of this going on in adolescence when someone would say to 14 year old with embryonic dramatic talents that possession might be involved. God knows what would then happen! I mean how much would you have acted up other people’s expectations?
TOYAH: It frightened me. I mean there was something genuinely wrong and I believed that this was pubescent sexual energy and sexual dreams. But mum got so frightened she’s lock herself in the bedroom at night. Because I’d wake up and be aware that something was trying to strangle me. And saying such obscenities.
I mean the room was full of voices with obscenities. And I’d run out and I’d bang on her door and say "mum let me in, just please let me in." And she was frightened. So I’d end up sleeping on the landing overnight. Stuff like that.
HOST: Did all that stop after you were christened?
TOYAH: No, it stopped when I was about – the actual voices and the violence of the voices stopped when I was about 16.
HOST: You mean in went on for two years?!
TOYAH: On and on and on.
HOST: I’m surprised no-one took you to a doctor! (Toyah laughs)
TOYAH: I learned to shut them up, I learned not to be afraid of them. I mean initially I was afraid of them and I think also all my life I’ve had incredibly vivid dreams. Frighteningly vivid dreams.
HOST: You still do?
TOYAH: Yes I do, but they’re much more creative and enjoyable and I wake up feeling well, if I was only born to have that dream, that’s enough for me. But the dreams in puberty were terrifying.
HOST: What were they mainly of?
TOYAH: Concentration camps, disembowelment, and things in which my mother was being murdered which was very distressing. When you dream that your mother is being murdered and you cannot tell her you love her and you cannot express any form of love to her. It really does make you very … erm, messed up! In a way.
But I just learned to control these things. I learned not be afraid. Learned that in a way it wasn’t real and if I didn’t want it to exist I had the power to stop it. And started to use it in a creative way. In writing and poetry and in paintings.
HOST: Did you take drugs at this time?
TOYAH: No. I was just a very heavy drinker.
HOST: Did you drink a lot?
TOYAH: I drank whatever I could get my hands on. On account that I had no money.
HOST: What did it do for you? Why did you drink?
TOYAH: Kind of gave me courage in a way, I suppose. Just gave me courage. Helped – made life a bit more bearable. I didn’t like routine. I’ve never been able to enjoy routine. And I think at that stage when you go out, you're out at night and you know you don’t want to be at the cinema or you don’t want to be at the theatre, you want to be outside in the open air with a gang of people. It’s a quite a nerve-racking thing to do. And I found drink gave me courage to find my way into that environment.
HOST: Did you get drunk?
TOYAH: Oh, rip roaring! I mean I’d wake up and not know were I was. I mean it would always be in a field or a hillside somewhere.
HOST: So all those fears your mother has of this open dangerous world you completely …
TOYAH: Went for.
HOST: Went for. But you didn’t come to any damage?
TOYAH: People were terrified of me.
HOST: Because that would’ve – I mean "adolescence" one thinks immediately of drugs, drink, sex, violence. The great parental -
TOYAH: Well, the one good thing that came from my parental snobbery as it were was that my father went to great pains to explain how men can use women sexually. And how women can be naïve enough to believe that they mean something to those men. He went to great extremes to explain that.
HOST: Your father did? To you?
TOYAH: Yeah. Knowing that – I mean most of the women he got into bed with because they were vulnerable to charm (laughs) And knowing I wanted a career and knowing – also I valued my body, I really valued it because was serving me well. I could walk, I could run, I could talk, I could see. I valued that a lot even though I drank.
I wasn’t kind of thinking "oh there’s a boy, I must sleep with him!" I was thinking, "he’s a boy, he’s being nice to me." Whack! Kind of punch him straight in the face. I mean there was such a barrier around me. Even though I hung out with gangs and stuff. I was very untouchable.
HOST: Were you ever drawn away from male sexuality to female sexuality? Given –
HOST: - this rather harsh exploitive view of male sexuality that your father had given you?
TOYAH: No, I mean I was in love with men every week. And it broke my heart. I just never would tell anyone. I was the type of child and teenager that had crushes all the time.
HOST: So that lived with – this was a dual view of sexuality?
TOYAH: I just suppressed it.
TOYAH: The crushes I suppressed. As nutty as I was I have some terribly conformist views.
HOST: Are you possessive?
TOYAH: I was in the early part of the marriage. Not so much now.
TOYAH: Oh, phenomenally. But I understand jealousy. Jealousy is when your life isn’t satisfactory you become jealous. I went out wholeheartedly to understand what jealousy was. I’m still jealous but I understand why I am. And that’s from my own feelings of inadequacy and perhaps not enjoying my life at that particular time or something.
HOST: As you look back and identify these influences in the formation of yourself that one of the conclusions you appear to have come to was that you wouldn’t do it over again with a child of your own?
TOYAH: Purely because I’m such a loner. I don’t it would be fair on a child. I’m still a loner.
HOST: You keep people at a distance?
TOYAH: Yeah. I mean I have really great friends but they understand that they’ll only see me every six months. There is no regularity in my life. And that’s chosen and deliberate.
HOST: A child would be a discipline. I mean I struck also that you lay emphasis on what a child needs in terms of regularity, yet in a sense it was the very emphasis on regularity that made your childhood so difficult?
TOYAH: OK, there is a contradiction in me here because it’s all very well saying I couldn’t tell a child what he wants but I’ve been with children when they’ve said "oh, we want to eat this beef burger and chips" and I’m thinking this is not good for them and I’ve said "no you don’t want to eat this beef burger and chips." I mean it’s that old cliché that you find yourself sounding like your own mother or your own father.
HOST: But is that a bad thing?
TOYAH: Probably not.
HOST: But you don’t want to?
TOYAH: Well I just – I think you’ve hit the nail on head, perhaps I can’t conform to it. Perhaps I can’t meet that or match that.
HOST: But you’re not sure. I noticed you picked me up quickly at the very beginning when you used the word “reversible”.
TOYAH: I have – it’s a erm, I don’t want to do anything in my life that closes doors forever. Because … if you don’t you are sterilising things. You’re killing something. And even though I don’t think I want to physically give birth … I don’t want to feel sterilised. Or feel sterile.
HOST: Biology closes doors…
TOYAH: Oh, it certainly does! And my biological clock is very alive. I’m very aware of it. But you see I don’t think you should have a child just because your hormones are telling you to. I think children are brought into the world for a great spiritual reason. And I also have this idealistic view that a soul chooses you to conceive on its behalf. I believe I chose my parents. I really do. And therefore I live with that commitment.
HOST: And why would you have chosen your parents?
TOYAH: Because I had to learn to confirm (laughs) I had to learn to be more giving and understanding! And not so bloody selfish! (laughs) I suppose. And mum had to learn to stop telling people what they want. I must say I have a very good relationship with my parents now, I absolutely adore them. But back to having a child I just don’t believe I’m supposed to have one.
HOST: The extent to which acting is selfish, how much do you think does that contribute to a certain kind of narcissism, that it’s difficult then to relate to demands of other people like children or spouses? How much is there essentially ice-cold, narcissistic about a really good dedicated actress? Or actor?
TOYAH: Oh I can’t talk on behalf on other actors but I’d say in the beginning in my career when I was 18 it was purely narcissism. The need to be known for who I was and what I could do, I mean it was "please, world know me, understand and trust me."
But now I must say the process of acting is a beautiful form of escapism because you’re going into an other persona. You’re becoming someone else and it’s no longer narcissistic. It’s actually escaping from yourself. You use your life experiences for the building blocks of that persona. But you are creating another body.
HOST: What are bits of you you like to escape from?
TOYAH: I have a very low boredom threshold and I find life mundane and I think that problem comes from me and I don’t know why. And I like to escape from the mundane and I get bored when I’m me.
HOST: Just pulling this together a little … the advantage of the life you lead is that it’s multi-faceted, stimulating, and indeed encounters this inbuilt tendency you have to be bored. The disadvantage, the one you mentioned at the very beginning, when you referred to loneliness, that is to say, constantly in a sense on the move, changing, free or a certain ideological and personal package, carries you through your twenties and thirties but I sensed you were anticipating. You’d already crossed the 30 barrier, you’d already seen something I the distance that worried you and loneliness was the word you picked for it?
TOYAH: I use loneliness are as cliché. You’re a little old lady or little old man and you’ve got no immediate family anymore … well, I think I’m prepared to accept that. I don’t want children just because I’m afraid of old age. And I don’t want children because I’m afraid of loneliness.
Because I think loneliness is something you should look to in yourself to begin with. And there’s just something about me, I think my dad has it too, that we can feel lonely very easily. It’s a very internal feeling. And it’s to do with communication and understanding again. And I just think that we think differently for some reason. And thinking differently can alienate you.
HOST: From other people?
TOYAH: From other people?
HOST: Is your husband like you?
TOYAH: Yes. He’s an eccentric loner too, we’re just ideally matched.
HOST: So you understand each others –
TOYAH: Yeah. He’s much more solid than I am. He’s 12 years older than me. And he’s been through whatever he had to go through to understand why he felt he stood outside of society.
HOST: Do you ever get very low?
TOYAH: Very rarely. I don’t allowed it. I can get low.
HOST: What do you do?
TOYAH: Go out and see people and phone people up and motivate myself, usually through physical motivation. I find mental loneliness stimulated – you can stimulate yourself out of it through physical action. I learned to do that as a teenager really because I was low most of the time.
HOST: Looking at yourself now and comparing to what you are to what you were, are you surprised or relieved? Or depressed?
TOYAH: Whenever I look back on work I did ten years ago or who I was suppose to be as a teenager, I’m looking at a stranger. I don’t know that person anymore. I’m very good at casting things adrift, you know, it’s dead wood, I don’t want that package anymore, I just forget about it.
HOST: But don’t you still want the fame? Don’t you still want the acclaim, don’t you still want people to love you?
TOYAH: No, because I – when you have extreme fame at the age I had it, in many ways damaged me more than anything else I’d been through. Coz you’ve to get over it. You’ve got to learn to live with it. And I had this terrible phobia of being in public areas because people would look at me and I just couldn’t stand people looking at me. I wanted to be ignored and left alone. So you’ve got this – you just go from one extreme to the other.
You work all your life to make people look at you because you look zany and crazy on the outside and when they look at you and they camp outside your house, they break your windows and they break into your house. They get your telephone number, they follow you in your car, you suddenly realise "I don’t want this!"
Now I think my values are very different. Now, they’re totally different. I want to do things well. I want to believe I’m doing the best. I’m not as lazy as I used to be. I work at something till I feel I’ve got it right now. Not just do it and think "oh, that’ll do." Values have changed completely.