MAY 1985
By Antonia Willis

Toyah's video for her new single "Don'T Fall In Love (I Said)" shows a raunchy, aggressive side on a woman who enjoys and encourages a reputation for walking a bit on the wild side.

She also likes to project an image of quiet domesticity and is happy to talk about evenings at home doing sewing whilst her boyfriend of five years standing watches TV. This is a false image - as indeed is the other.

She is, above all, a dedicated woman. I suspect there is little life for Toyah outside her work. Her appearance is as much as publicity requirement as a personal expression, and despite the mane of red hair and the purple eye-shadow the first adjective that springs to mind is not outrageous or striking, but simply pretty. She is self-effacing, and eager to be taken seriously.

The old days of Toyah as a hell-raiser and well and truly over. I expect that she was probably much more fun to know then but a certain amount of "fun" has to be sacrificed in the pursuit of success.

I asked her is she felt she had become more professional in the part year ...

TOYAH: Yes, definitely. Until recently I was aiming for a kind of superficial fame than for a standard of work. Then I sat down and thought about what I wanted out of life. I wanted to be remembered as a singer and as an actress.

I wanted privacy. I wanted health - I've given up meat and alcohol - and I wanted lasting success.

What attracted you most: fame or money?

TOYAH: Oh, fame. No doubt about that. When the band first made it we didn't know what had hit us. We didn't even collect our cheques. We were so poor that we walked to the BBC, for Top Of The Pops ... I've got myself organised now. I've got plenty of money, but not much time to spend it.

When you do have time to relax and enjoy your millions, how would you like to live?

TOYAH: I'd like a great big country mansion with helicopter pad and a swimming pool and every room decorated as a different style. There would be an Art Deco room, a Georgian Room, an Elizabethan room ...

I rewind slightly before this nightmare vision. What period would you actually like to live in?

TOYAH: Oh, 2400 AD. By then we'll have sorted all our problems out. I think we'll all live away from cities. There won't be any wars, technology will be so advanced as to hidden and there will be no prejudice.

What makes you think this will happen?

TOYAH: For a start, people will travel more and more, and get to know what each other are like. They won't care so much about their own political systems.

Do you have any political instincts to change the world?

TOYAH: No, I'm very politically naive. I read all the papers - from the Guardian to the Mail - but I just can't make up my mind. I think you change people by giving them a sense of pleasure; by entertaining them.

You are obviously irrepressibly optimistic. Why?

TOYAH: Partly because I'm not worried about what happens to us all when we die. You see, I know that there is some kind of parallel world that we just drift into. I realised this when I once heard my Dad say that he was frightened of dying and I just couldn't see why.

Are you still close to your family?

TOYAH: Yes. They always laugh about things. When I first dyed my hair, my Mum got a bit uptight and clocked me - I had dyed it white at the back and she thought it had all been shaved off.

But when I let it grow back to its normal colour last year, she told me to dye it back. "You'll never sell your records looking like that" - she said.

Did you have a wild time in Birmingham?

TOYAH: Oh, indeed I did. I was in punch-ups all the time. It's much more normal up there. I got a big shock once, though, when I was twenty. I went out drinking with my first boyfriend, and there was this fight in the pub. I lashed out all over the place, and then went home and passed out.

The next day I went round to see my boyfriend; his nose was broken and there was blood all over the sheets. "Oh My God!" I said. "Who did that to you?" "You did", he answered. So I've been a bit careful ever since. I've learnt to keep my mouth shut, for a start.

Is that a quality your find yourself in need of?

TOYAH: It is. People bother me all the time. For instance, after I came back from France after filming "The Ebony Tower", the press kept wanting to get me to tell them bits of unpleasant gossip about Laurence Olivier (above with Toyah, Greta Scacchi and Roger Rees)

But here simply isn't any, you know - he is truly one of the most kind and remarkable people I've met.

Did you become very close to him while you were living together on the set?

I saw him a lot, because I used to stay behind at the chateau while Greta and everybody else went off to the town; it was incredibly provencial, and my red hair attracted a certain amount of hostile attention.

So I couldn't go out much, and Laurence Olivier used to stay behind to keep me company. He was like that; truly considerate.

Did you feel at tall tempted to identify with the part of "Freak" in "The Ebony Tower"?

TOYAH: No, not at all. It was just apart. The chateau had an incredibly seductive atmosphere, though. I almost cried when I left.

What's your next big project?

TOYAH: I'm going to tour again. I want to get back to the music world; it's important for me to juggle the two careers. I'm going to tour America, where I've never been. We're going to do both coasts, but I'm not sure about middle America.

I wonder how you'd go down there. Last time I was in Texas the best selling song was "Drop-kick Me Jesus Through The Goalposts Of Life"

TOYAH: Yes, that sort of thing's really pagan. I'm looking forward to the west coast, though.

Won't you find it exhausting?

TOYAH: I expect I will. I always lose the upper range of my voice during the last few days of a tour, and that really scares me. It's like asking a guitarist to go on stage with only two strings.

How do you like to relax when it's all over?

I paint, or just sit in the garden thinking. And sometimes - not often - I like a good night out on the town. The other day I went to the White Elephant Club, then on to Tramp, and I loved it.

There were a lot of press people, though, and that makes me a bit nervous. The media operates under its own rules, and they are very tough.

Did you ever feel you've been misrepresented?

TOYAH: There are times when I can't even recognise myself in the things that have been written ... but I don't particularly mind. Life's so busy and if you need publicity, you take the knocks. I enjoy myself. We all have a certain amount to put up with and I have a lot less of that than most.

I could believe it; there was something quite disarming about her which probably stemmed from the fact that she was so obviously enjoying life.

"We all thrive on pleasure", she said. "But you have to work at knowing what gives you the greatest enjoyment. It's not drugs, or sex, or parties for me. It's my acting and singing and when I'm too old to do either of those, I'll paint. It's a good life." 


Post a Comment

<< Home