JUSTIN: In a career spanning 30 years - she probably would not like me to say this but Toyah Willcox has had 13 Top 40 singles, recorded 20 albums, written two books, she's been in over 40 stage plays, made 10 feature films, presented “The Good Sex Guide Late”, “Watchdog” and “Songs Of Praise”. That's an introduction isn't it, Toyah? (silence) Are you there?!

TOYAH: (on the phone) 35 years and I don't mind people saying it!

JUSTIN: How many years?!

TOYAH: 35!

JUSTIN: 35 years!

TOYAH: I started when I was 17 and I'm 55 this year so I think that's about it!

JUSTIN: That's fantastic! And 35 years ago was "Jubilee", the Derek Jarman film wasn't it?

TOYAH: Yeah, something like that! It's too long ago to remember! (laughs)

JUSTIN: Too long to remember! So Toyah, before we talk about your next project ... first a simple question. 17 years old, thrust into this most exciting of times, the punk explosion. You're in this film, which is a seminal part of the entire thing. Your world goes upside down! 35 years later, what's the biggest difference?

TOYAH: I think the biggest difference is I wish I knew then what I know now

JUSTIN: Well, you would've not done the same would you?

TOYAH: I would've done it with more confidence. The one thing that no one ever says that's fantastic about being older is what you know. You have more to give, it's absolutely brilliant. I'm a much happier person now also. I don't take rubbish from anyone. Back then I was quite heavily influenced by people and now no one influences me

I think that's an age thing. You stand very much on your own two feet as you get older. But I wish, if anything, that I could go back to 17 and knowing what I know now because I would've really kicked the butts of everyone I met. Everyone always gives you their advice when you're very young. When you get to my age you've got all the advice you need and that's your life experience

JUSTIN: Of course. Someone like you Toyah, it's clear as a nose on anybody's face that you're a creative person. You couldn't do what you do - act, write, perform, sing and everything else you've done plus your images have changed over the years completely from one thing to another - because you control them yourself

TOYAH: I'm not sticky with an image. I get very bored with an image. And also at my age you've got to be a little careful of what you do -

JUSTIN: Oh c'mon! (Toyah laughs) There's nothing sadder than seeing Toyah in a twin piece or whatever they call it (twin set = matching cardigan & skirt) What's the colour?

TOYAH: I just don't want to bare too much flesh at my age – let's put it that way


JUSTIN: I'm sure you're still colourful and all that, aren't you?

TOYAH: Yeah, I have lots of stage outfits. Big costumes, big head dresses. But they're more appropriate for who I am now and there's absolutely no way I'm going to run around in a miniskirt baring my legs

JUSTIN: If Toyah Willcox is not doing it, I'm not doing it either! (Toyah laughs) You're latest thing is a play, “Hormonal Housewives”?

TOYAH: Yes, we've been on the road for a month. It's an absolutely fantastic massive hit! I think the success of this show is it's joy, from beginning to end. It's not political, it's not feminist, it worships women and worships men in a rather strange modern way. The language is very fruity, it's very Chaucerian

I would say if you've got any children below 16 do not bring them – it's too adult. But it's an absolutely joy, it's a laugh every five seconds. The laughs are aching belly laughs. There's three of us on stage, three actresses, we're all playing ourselves but we also do sketches where we play 6 characters. It's very very funny!

JUSTIN: Who's written it Toyah?

TOYAH: It's written by Julie Coombe who is also in it. I think she's very much the star of it even though all three of us are very prominent. We never leave the stage, it's 216 pages of dialogue. Julie has written it, it's incredibly observational. I'm staggered how the audience react to it

We do one scene about a coat size and I never thought clothes sizes were that important to women! It burns the house down. The reaction is enormous! Women just recognise themselves in what Julie has written

JUSTIN: How often do you get things like this? Read it and go “oh, they want me to do this to sell a few tickets!” And then it obviously really affects you and you think “I want to do this”?

TOYAH: That's a very good question. I get about 2-3 scripts a week where I'm just obviously not right for it. Like you say it's because people want bums on seats ... "we'll send it to Toyah." What I really liked about this play is it's done as stand-up, we don't have, what we call the invisible wall, between the stage and the audience    

JUSTIN: Break the the fourth wall, darling!

TOYAH: We break the fourth wall. We talk directly to the audience and they talk back and it's done as stand-up. I've never done that before. As a singer, as a performer with my band obviously that fourth wall isn't there when I'm singing

You get a lot of chanting and a lot of shouting back at you as a singer but my response doesn't have to be within a characterisation or within a play. With “Hormonal Housewives” even when I'm playing myself and what I do it has to be in relationship to the play

The timing of comedy and setting up the jokes is two pages before they actually happen and I love it! It's a brain teaser, it's really rewarding. We've done about 30 performances so far and they go in five minutes. I just don't know where the evening goes! It's a complete indication of how enjoyable it is!

JUSTIN: It is, definitely. I'm a stand-up comedian, that's what I do when I'm not standing in here on a Bank Holiday Monday. If you run out of time in your slot - if you're enjoying yourself ... everybody is enjoying themselves!


TOYAH: And you get a lot of energy from laughter. I come off stage feeling totally invigorated. The bigger the laughter the greater you feel. I'm used to applause but I think I've grown a bit jaded to applause. With this the laughter is like currency in the bank, it's a really wonderful feeling

JUSTIN: If they're not laughing you're not doing it right. That's the thing about comedy. It's instant, isn't it?

TOYAH: I've done some terrible faux pas in this, some terrible Freudian slips with my lines and the audience love it even more! Even when I've got my lines completely wrong and they've come out as complete malapropisms, you're just in a win-win situation - the other two actresses say “pardon, didn't you mean to say this?

JUSTIN: Do you know what the secret is, Toyah? The mistake people make - they do this a lot in panto as well - they'll make a cock-up and it will bring the house down and then they try to repeat it the night after but you can never replicate that moment of spontaneity, can you?

TOYAH: And you can't replicate the audiences. We're in a different town each day and there's absolutely no way we'd treat every town the same because they're not. They are totally different

JUSTIN: You're going everywhere! You're in Wolverhampton this week, which isn't too far for you. Homeground basically, isn't it?

TOYAH: I live 40 miles from Wolverhampton, which is really a cough and a spit away for me. It's fantastic

JUSTIN: Good luck with it! Enjoy it, won't you?

TOYAH: Everyone is welcome and we will enjoy it!

JUSTIN: Fantastic! Lovely to speak to you! We'll see you very soon!

TOYAH: Thank you very much! Bye bye!

JUSTIN: Bye bye!


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