The Girl Who Would Be King

When Toyah Willcox talks, it's like a time-bomb ticking over...and Toyah's time gets closer every second. So what does make Toyah tick? 

Paul Morley sounds the alarm... 
 

"Be original, don't bitch me," smiles Toyah Willcox as I leave the Royal Court Theatre, smiling back over my shoulder. 

I'd spent ninety minutes interviewing her in a tatty dressing room with a miniature bay window that looked down a stumpy alleyway at a fragment of London's Sloane Square and the top end of the King's Road. 

"People who don't even know me," she told me, incredulous at such rudeness, "have dug my grave in the music papers, and I just think that's hilarious. What problems have they got that they want to do that to someone else? I just think, God, they must be frustrated if they feel a need to be that nasty. 

"It doesn't affect me." she raises her head a little, punches her chest. "It bites there for a few minutes, then I just think - fuckers! You're not going to stop me, baby! Nothing will stop me. No words." 

She pouts fiercly. 

In print Toyah appears more bad-tempered than she sounds. When she talks, it's very theatrical fierceness - though not hollow. Whatever, she's not atall a cold person. 

"I think that's my problem. I'm not atall cold. I have problems being cold. I don't like being bitchy, I don't necessarily enjoy it. That's why people have taken me for a ride a lot of the time, because I'm usually a very nice person. I usually tolerate a lot. 

"I'm just not a slag, which is what the media makes me out to be. I'm totally unlike this sort of wild sexist-creature-on-the-stage image. I hate it. I'm just having a good time, and I want the audience to have a good time as well." 

In the world that Toyah is charging through, it doesn't seem simplistic to proclaim she will be a star. One of the last. In conversation her husky yet hard-edged Cockney deals out thoughtful, even rehearsed, lines and responses reminiscent of the snap, crackle and boast of old Bolan interviews: a pot-pourri of self championing, certainty, studied aggression, mild-contradiction, cosmetic angst, just the right amount
of self-deprecation and a dash of spontaneous insight. She listens to her questioner with supreme politeness. Interviews form part of her drive towards an unashamed 'career' success. She uses them with the professionalism of Sting, always conscious of the image it's helping to shape - gently rubbing the past out, setting up the next stages. 

Toyah so far has been the on the make catalyst looking to set up a hallucinatory venue for perpetual freaking out, the girl who slept in a coffin and dealt in black magic... 

"Black magic was just a fascination. I hate the idea of satan. Man is satan." 

Man or the human race? 

"The human race. The male has a lot to do with it. I mean, in black magic only the man is special, which is probably why I don't like it." 

What if it was the other way around? 

"It's a negative form anyway. I still wouldn't like it. The coffin was just another morbid fascination. I used to lie in it because it kept men away from me. A very effective barrier." 

Sometimes it seems as though she's steering and scheming towards success purely for its own sake. 

"I couldn't tell you why it is. I've never analysed it. I just know that the feeling's so strong. I couldn't do anything else. If I'm meant to become something then I'll become something." 

She acknowledges the media's part in this, claiming she will exploit its trivialising debasement. I ask her how she will deal with being absorbed into the media's sanitised notion of what is and isn't a female rock star. She has it all sorted out. 

"I would kid them to believe they'd absorbed me into that for a few weeks, but then I'd spit into their faces. I do like misleading those sort of people. I'd enjoy that totally. They've already tried - oh, Toyah, sexy thing - and I turned round and farted in their faces. I wouldn't mind if there was a great big thing launching the new album and I was the new Debbie Harry...then weeks later I'd shave my head and start gobbing on old ladies. I'd do anything to make them contradict themselves." 

Toyah, as a singer, has attracted the kind of aggravated dark-punk following that goes for set images, scrawlable logos, noticable spite, that needs to identify. Her fans will have their name painted on the back of their leather jackets underneath Crass and above Adam. 

Musically... "I don't know why. Our music is very jazz based." 

It's you, isn't it? 

"Yeah, definitely me. Because of my image, the media made me out to be some outrageous rebel, and I'd done Jubilee, the Punk Rock Movie. Some of the girls who get to me are bent as well. Little girls rubbing me left, right and centre. Very peculiar. I didn't know there were so many lesbians about." She laughs, a quick giggly 
burst. "Mind you, I get equally as many little boys after me." 

Is it identification? The possibility of transcending roots? 

"Totally. There's this problem child onstage performing to kids going through their teens." 

Were you a problem child? 

"I was a fucking bitch. I used to be so quiet and then I just lashed out at something and when I lashed out I physically hurt someone. I used to sit there and then explode and people could never make me out. One minute I'd be all demure and the next minute I'd be holding them up against a wall smashing their faces in. I had total lack of control. I couldn't control my temper. If I didn't want to go to school, I wouldn't go to school. I had to be physically locked in my mother's car in the morning and driven to school. To me school was just one long prison sentence. I really hated it." 

What did you want to do and be then? 

"I wanted to go to a snotty acting school in London. I've always wanted to be an actress. My mum was one, but I never found that out until I was in my teens so that's got nothing to do with it. It's just been a mad desire, really mad. I think it was because I was a compulsive liar. I was always lying to everyone to cover up my 
mistakes, to cover up the fact that I'd been playing truant. And because I could convince people with my lies and I found it very exciting, I wanted to lie for a profession." 

As Actor, Toyah is currently featured in Nigel William's self-consciously savage play Sugar And Spice at London's Royal Court Theatre. Williams, a glum Rob Halford lookalike, has an intelligentsia cultivated reputation as an enfant terrible of new theatre. His plays, Line 'Em Up, Class Enemy, Trial Run and now Sugar And Spice, all chipped from the same coarse, heavily stylised block, have earned him an inevitable punk/new wave tag. 

His plays frame resentment, bigotry, the clumsy emotions of tribalism, reproducing in fantastic setting the gripes, fears and loathings of an idealised working class. The great tension and barbarism in his plays comes not from the generous shower of expletitives - his loving use of fuck, cunt, piss, has become an easy handle for media - but from the confusion and disillusionment of the victims of prejudice: usually adolescents and the working class. 

Sugar And Spice is an ugly and funny play about hate, despair and sexual derision. It's simply structured. In the first half, motherly Honey-punk Suze (Carol Hayman) picks up a gang of girls and takes them back to her off-Kings Road council flat for shelter and whisky. Toyah as Sharon is the defiant leader of the gang; Carol (Gwyneth Strong) is the neurotic temptress who lures Steve (Daniel Peacock) into the flat, separating him from his mates who wait outside; Tracy is the obsessively tidy, uncommitted punkette in love with marriage, whose domesticated hooks are deep inside the poor Derek (John Fowler) who, after ahilarious opening burst of mock bravado, becomes almost sexless as the play progresses; Linda (Caroline Quentin) is happy to shadow Sharon, almost as tough but much less suss. 

The girls taunt and goad Steve for fancying Carol. Sharon spits morally destructive anti-male invective at him, and insidiously persuades best friend Carol to castrate Steve - who, due to a mixture of his own conceit and Sharon's toughness, is naked. As she moves towards him, almost hysterical, Steve's 'hard' mates, skinhead John (Tony London) and rude boy Leroy (Leroi Samuels) burst in to save him. 

The second half switches emphasis. John wildly attacks what he sees as the uselessness and stupidity of women just as Sharon attacked the ego and selfishness of men: Sharon addressing Steve's vulnerable penis, John screaming at Carol's pubic hair - Sharon now also naked, through her gullibility and John's chauvinistic demands. The play climaxes with an unsettling jab of physical violence - Steve having his genitals twisted out by the broken whisky bottle. 

The stunned gang ring 999. The play ends with an endless ringing tone. No one cares. 

As grotesque caricature of adolescent emotional warfare, Sugar And Spice is exuberant entertainment. Toyah projects Sharon with a mercurial blend of facetious wit and alarming attack; she'svery impressive. 

The night after the play's premier we talk about it in the boy's dressing room. Toyah sits on a wooden folding chair a couple offeet in front of me, casting occasional glances at my tape recorder and the peculiar lie of my hair.. She's dressed in black. Her boots are exquisite, of course - suede, with toes as long and lean as stilettos, which are high to give some inches to her 4' 10". 

At most, Sugar And Spice will tickle the fancy of the liberal middle class, but it won't be appreciated by the kind of audience Toyah hopes for - her music followers, the fifth form schoolkids the play romanticises. 

"The critics have torn it to pieces because they don't understand it," gloats Toyah perversely. "I think it's a brilliant play, so bloody funny. It's so true, the perversities in a young boy's mind. I think he's got it down to a tee. But it's a complicated play to perform. 

"You can't do it with taste because there is no taste in the play. You've got to be basic gutter cat sort of thing." 

Was there anything in the part of Sharon that you added to or adjusted from the original writing? 

"Yeah, I took some of the writing out. Some things that to me were too similar to the character of John, just perversities against women. I had some speeches..." 

A failure because it was a man writing it? 

"I felt it was a man writing it and going slightly over the top. Nigel Williams is a super-realist writer - it's not real, it's made bigger - and I just thought it was a little too much when the character Sharon kept going on and on and repeating how much she hated housewives and certain things like that. She kept repeating things 
throughout the play that would have got monotonous and boring whereas the character John gets boring and monotonous and eventually bores all the other characters into hating him." 

Did you immediately like the play when you first read it? 

"I hated it at first. I was offered the part of Carol, who is the bird that ends up naked, and I instantly refused it. I just couldn't handle a part like that. I sent the script back, and was offered the part of Sharon, which I was quite happy to take. I feel more capable of performing it. I just wouldn't feel right doing that sort of performance for the character Carol. I just haven't got the right physique. I'm not physically right for the part." 

Is that the only reason? 

"The nudity would freak me out. Completely. It would be wrong for me to do nudity cos when I go out onstage with the band everyone immediately shouts out 'Show us your tits, show us your tits'. The audience only go there to see your body in that case and that really annoys me." 

Do you see any of yourself in Sharon? 

"When I was younger, yes, quite a lot. The violence side, the aggression towards men, I had a hell of alot of that when I was younger. I didn't have the same amount of confidence that Sharon's got. I was too well brought up. I sort of kepy my thoughts to myself." 

The way your "careers" have developed, it's been a case of massive confidence. 

"In my case it's been a lot of bullshitting. That to me is what confidence is. It's just a case of being able to deal out the bullshit. When I first moved down to London I was the most naive little twat I've ever heard of, looking back. I was so fucking thick. I didn't know when members of the National Theatre were laughing   at me, I didn't know that people were laughing at me when I walked down the street. Why do people keep laughing at me? Am I making them happy? I was just thick. 

"I soon learnt to start bullshitting when people started ripping  me off left, right and centre, using me in every way because I allowed myself to be used. I like dealing out the bullshit. I like misguiding people who think they have power over you. I can't really give you examples...Like last night you have a load of old farts in to see you backstage, casting directors, all that, and they come and see you and say oh dahling, what are you doing next? Oh actually I'm off to Hollywood to do a big movie, and OK I'm being asked to do a big movie in Hollywood," she shakes her head as if it's all so tiresome, "But I don't know if I'm doing it yet. But I give them all this bullshit, about how big the movie is, and they go away wanting to employ me, because I've made  them think that I'm important. Which is a load of crap. 

"I just give people what they want to hear, which is a load of bullshit sometimes." 

How much satisfaction is there to your sense of creativity to play Sharon? 

"The great sense of exhaustion after the show. It's not so much the audience reaction, it's the silence at the end of the play that I like, the silence during the play when they're listening, that I prefer to the laughter. It's just the great sense of having so much adrenalin running through you and not being able to control it. That's what I get from acting. 

"The whole time I'm on that stage I'm on a complete high. The words take you over completely. Toyah no longer exists. It's great to escape from this person for two hours a night." 

Toyah talks about acting with great passion and perception, with a deeper sense of grace and coherence than when she talks about music. As actress she is respected, and she knows why; as singer she is still searching for respect, searching simply for the right way. "In my acting career, people come to me. In my music career, I have to go to people." 

Acting came before music. After dreaded school, a single O-level in music, she accepted a place at Birmingham Old Rep Drama School. 

She appeared in the BBC's Second City Firsts' Glitter along with Noel Edmonds and was offered a place with the National Theatre in London. She played Emma in Tales From Vienna Woods and in the summer of '77 she persuaded Derek Jarman to let her play Mad in Jubilee: a vain attempt to feel under the surfaces of punk for...something. 

"I think it's a film in its own right. When it came out I thought it was brilliant, but it's boring looking at it now." 

Did you feel that it was going to help you? 

"I had incredible doubts about it. I'd never seen a nude person before." She looks for a reaction from me. I give it her. "I was 18. I'd never seen one. It had quite a few in it. I'd never seen a nude person. The absolute truth! Except myself. And there was this scene where I jump into bed with two brothers and get the lighter out and the first time we did it they had their clothes on and then we did the take and I jumped into bed and they had nothing on! I completely freaked out. I'd never seen a nude man before!" 

Were you scared to be involved with those sorts of people? 

"No, it excited me actually. They were the sort of people I dreamed about spending my company with. Very few people like that existed in Birmingham - colourful people, just being themselves, not caring what society said about them. I just found it exciting. I soon found out they were arseholes like everyone else." 

In 1978 she appeared in The Corn Is Green with Katherine Hepburn, began filming the TV Quatermass for Euston Films, and during the latter months of the year filmed the part of Monkey for Franc Roddam's Quadrophenia, rudeness and developing versatlity winning her the role. 

When talking about the directors she's worked with, revealing respect and love for Derek Jarman and compatibility with Bill Alexander (Sugar And Spice) she says of Roddam: "He was OK, but I knew he was completely manipulating everyone in the cast." 

Toyah was fast growing up. She appreciated that in the film there were certain faces used, but that this benefitted the faces used - Sting, Phil Daniels, Toyah - as much as anything else. 

"Of course! I wouldn't have stayed otherwise. Getting up at five, catching pneumonia. I didn't have a day off. I had to keep going, there was this nurse with me the whole time. I really was very ill. But I realised the film wasn't only benefiting Roddam. It was benefiting me as well." 

In early 1979 she presented the BBC chat show Look Here from Birmingham, appeared in Stephen Poliakoff's play American Days at the ICA Theatre, forced her way into an episode of Shoestring, started filming the BBC series Jekyll and Hyde, and was offered the part of Miranda in Derek Jarman's film version of Shakespeare's The Tempest. Her 'wild child' performance here described as "naive and knowing", exotically puffed out her image. Did she feel that appearing in The Tempest was going to do her some good? 

"I knew it would benefit my acting career within the acting world." She affects a silly snobby voice. "Punk rock star Toyah Willcox doing Shakespeare. It had that sensationalist aspect about it. But 
not only has it benefited my acting career. It's opened up a new audience for me." 

For Toyah, very important. But did she simply do Quadropheniaand The Tempest to further her careers, or were there other reasons? 

"I did Quadrophenia for other reasons. It was at a time when  mods hadn't re-occurred and I loved the fashion and I loved the  music...and then it re-occurred and I fucking hated it. I still like the music. I Just hated the hype. The Tempest I did purely as a challenge, because I was frightened of Shakespeare. I didn't think I was capable of doing Shakespeare." 

Did you feel that you were doing Shakespeare, or something else? 

"I felt I was doing Shakespeare with added life." 

That added life was important. "Oh yes. I knew Derek wasn't going to 'do a punk version of The Tempest'. Load of crap He was going to do a version as true to life as when Shakespeare wrote it, and that's why I wanted to do it. Because I knew it would be mystically beautiful." A touch of her impressionable soft centre seeps through the hard business exterior. "The filming technique is marvellous, but I hate me in it, because...well, I just don't like Shakespeare. I got to like The Tempest after reading it six times. I've just got an anti-Shakespeare feel left from school."

Did you feel that through acting you were communicating other people's feelings, and you made music because you wanted to communicate your own ideas and feelings? 

"Oh yeah, music is something very personal to me. I want to achieve something within music because I love music. It is definitely my own communication. You've hit the nail on the head. When I'm acting I'm someone else's puppet. I'm the director's or writer's puppet. That feels very expansive. You feel that you are eating other people's minds to create a totally seperate person. You're creating something that doesn't exist, and it's great. You feel like a creator." 

The roles Toyah has played have all had great attraction: been bright boosts. They have meant that as actress she is solidly established and undeniably "hot". As musician, much less so. She's busy getting to grips with that. As she admits, in the past she tried too hard, wore masks, and contrived an ill-fitting image. She desperately wants her music to be as accepted as her acting. 

"It's difficult to compare the two worlds," she admits, "and say why you're doing both. I generally just do whatever I want to do next." 

People are always suspicious of actors who perform music onstage - they feel it's a con, certainly a conceit. 

"Right. I'm still the one person about, I think, who's managed to keep the two careers completely separate. Very little of my music gets involved with my acting, and I wouldn't like it to. 

There's a movie I'm doing next year for which I'm writing the music, but it's not supposed to be a rock musical, the music is all atmosphere, like Eno's sort of, not rock songs. I'm not interested in that at all. 

"I like doing both music and acting. I get a lot of inspiration from acting and the music. Doing a play like this leaves the days free to work on music. It's just perfect. I need to work day and night time, so having both enables me to do that." 

Doesn't doing one take away from the other? 

"No, one complements the other. The only commitment is time, but because I'm capable of working longer hours I can fit into other people's schedules.There was a time when I was doing two movies and an album." She makes it sound so natural. "Quadrophenia and Quatermass and the 'Sheep Farming In Barnet' LP. I didn't sleep for two weeks and I was very happy." A short, sharp snatch of giggle. 

You wouldn't sacrifice one for the other? 

"No, because I don't believe in those sort of sacrifices. If I did that I would be sacrificing for someone else, not because of my career, but because some selfish bastard at the other end wanted to make more money out of me. Fuck that. I do what makes me 
happy. I know that sounds selfish, but you've got to be like that otherwise you're someone else's puppet." 

She glares through me. "I've got two personalities that both need feeding at the same time. I couldn't tell you what they are. I've got the snob in me and I've got the commoner in me. The snob does the acting and the commoner the music." 

I would have said the other way round. (I wouldn't actually, but that's what I said at the time.) 

"Not anymore! Because I'm fighting for my music career now. I feel I've taken a step back doing the music and I want to take a step forward again." 

The group 'Toyah' began to take shape prior to the bulk of her acting successes; end of '77, early '78. The group that made the singles 'Victims Of The Riddle' and 'Bird In Flight', the six-track 'Sheep Farming In Barnet' (these all compiled for a German import LP with the same title), the Safari LP 'The Blue Meaning' and the single from the LP 'Ieya', have now fallen apart. Only Joel Bogen, guitarist and founder member along with Toyah, remains. 

Toyah has her bile against her former group well organised, using their inadequacies and negative fastidiousness - their laziness to fend off attack against the music's erraticism. I ask her how aware she was of the music's erraticism, especially neat to the fluent acting development. 

"Totally," she affirms, hungry to get it all off her chest, dragging the group in. "When anything went wrong with the band a particular member would say it was because Toyah was acting." Toyah bitches with a practised persuasive sheen of authority. "Which was a load of crap. So the band would go out, make 
mistakes, not rehearse enough, lose money, and they'd blame it on me because I was away acting. They couldn't live without me. They were totally dependent on me, so that overworked me. I was having to mother them the whole time. Which was ridiculous. They were like a bunch of old women, continually having periods as far as I was concerned." She grimaces, spreads out loads of examples of the group's exasperating stupidity. 

Toyah says the group - absurdly - resented the attention she was getting, her tendency to want to write the music, the time she was away pursuing a role that created her image and diminished theirs. Yet during the time the group was splitting at the seams, Toyah was happily protecting them in interviews, broadcasting how well they were all getting on. "Of course I fucking was," she shoots back, "I was trying desperately to make things OK, even though they weren't." 

It's surely inevitable that Toyah is the group is the leader is the face is the one that is wanted. 

"You can't do anything about that. I tried, I really tried." 

Why? 

"Because I actually cared for the band." 

That seems a bit wet. 

"I know it's a bit wet. I actually tried to keep the band together. I didn't want to lose them. All I wanted to do was get on the stage and perform in front of an audience. I didn't want to be the main number. But I realise now that I have to be. You've got to be number one.. 

"The music's improved no end by the loss of those three members of the band. I don't think there'll ever be a Toyah band again. I won't call it that, the next group, cos the five members we all wrote together and the music is part of 'Toyah', whereas now we've lost three members the music is completely different. A new image and a new presentation. It's lost all its self-indulgent pap." 

Toyah's musical favourites include Marianne Faithful, Tim Buckley, Laura Nyro, Jimi Hendrix, Eno, Lou Reed, Pere Ubu, Marc Bolan, David Bowie. With loves like that you know she'll make music more heroic than she has done. Does she strive to equal the music of those idols? 

"I'd like to equal Tim Buckley's imagination," she considers. Pause. "I'd like my voice to be as sweet as Laura Nyro's," she prays. Pause. "I'd like my imagination to be as perfectly correct as David Bowie's. I love them all because they have a certain quality." 

Her music so far - which she doesn't completely denounce, but neither does she admit to feeling proud of - vulgarly extends the cosmically deranged elements of Patti Smith like Pauline Murray gracefully extends the easy listening elements. (A critic described it as Patti Smith on speed. In fact, it's closer to Patti Smith off speed. "I never use drugs for inspiration. They blott my mind out.") Enchantingly uncouth ghost music even more extreme than Pink military, 'The Blue Meaning' is Toyah in Wonderland. 

To achieve the hit singles that the face and the fury demand and deserve, she needs to pack all her flights of fantasy and diabolical fanciness into a taut commercial framework. She'll appeal to lovers of Sting, Gary Numan and Kate Bush, if properly disciplined. Right now her lyrics are precious and precarious - she's called them pretentious. 

"Pretentious doesn't necessarily mean it's bad. I am a pretentious person in a way. Well, I don't think I am now because in a way I've proved myself quite a lot. But I don't worry what the lyrics are like as long as it fits the music, and I've created a good melody line. I would love my lyrics to be accessible and for people to repeat them, sing them, which is something that my lyrics haven't got yet. I'd love it if people could walk along the streets singing my lyrics. 

"I do think about things like that, but if I'm not capable of writing like that there's no point in trying cos you'd just come out with real crap. The lyrics are very personal to me. At the moment I'm still developing, and that's the thing about music. I don't care if it doesn't work at the moment, cos I'm developing so quickly and there's so much inside me to develop. There's no way I've burnt myself out. I've only just grown up in a way." 

The new music, she confidently reveals, is 'more sellable'. "It's sort of controlled chaos, studio-based chaos. I'm keeping the word chaos there because I think that's a very valuable part of our music - you could move to it and there was action there. Movement to me is the main form of communication. It's not just going blah blah blah. If you move, and you make the music to move to, the people will like it. 

"I won't be able to break away from the punk thing, but I'll be able to make it grow into a bigger thing. I hope so. I'd like to think so." 

Do you want to be a star? 

"I want to be on the move." 

Toyah moves around on her hard wooden chair, fiddles around with a heavy looking eye-ring, attention occasionally wandering as a struggle through a question. Midway through the conversation there's a solitary yawn, discreetly and inoffensively performed. She seems surrounded by a halo of energy - stamina, perhaps 
derived from her stockiness, enough for four. "Basically onstage." she had said, "I am a man, and y'know, that's all I can say..." 

I press charges. There must be more to that? 

"Erm...the only way you can be asexual, for a woman to be asexual,  is to say that she's a man. It's no good saying 'I'm asexual' cos then you get everyone left right and centre trying to chase you. But if you say you are a man, people will say oh? oh; and stay away." 

She explains that when she's onstage singing, she likes to forget her body. She often refers to her body with slight distaste. "Oh yeah, I do like to forget about the shape of it and all that." Another quick giggle. "I don't know why. I just like to forget that I'm female basically..." 

That's the shape you're referring to. "Oh no, the shape I don't like is being small, like a dwarf. I haven't got a hang-up about it, I just feel that it's a bit of a drag sometimes." 

Does it upset you that you have these feelings? 

"No, because they make me look after myself a lot more. I think if I liked the way I looked I wouldn't look after myself. But I really look after myself physically. I'm sort of a keep fit health freak, what I eat and everything. Because I'm so afraid of going bumph!" she flings her arms wide. 

It affects your self confidence? 

"It happened once and it did totally. Not only that, it's cos then I can't move around a lot and I have a lot of physical energy. If I get half a stone overweight I'm completely fucked. The slimmer I am, the more hungry I am, the better the performance." 

It's nothing to do with the kind of vanity Sharon would attack? 

"I think vanity does come into it. Vanity is a form of giving yourself self-confidence. I do so like to wear decent clothes and things like that and I do wear make-up and I do have my hair done and so that's vanity, isn't it?" 

Toyah has intense moral concern about certain things. 

"All I ever see of woman is usually groupies. They disgust me." She crinkles her nose, shakes her head. "How can they jump into bed with someone they've just met is beyond me. The man I live with now was my bodyguard on tour and he used to disgust me more than the lot. He used to go through about six a day on tour, you know the incredible male ego." 

Yet you've ended up with him. 

"My preaching eventually got to him. I used to go in and thump these groupies in the face, tell them to get out, I don't want you around. They used to sleep with everyone in the crew to get near me, some of them. Some of them were dykes and they used to sleep with the crew so they could talk to me during the night or something. They used to disgust me." Her skin visibly crawls. "I just don't understand. There's no brain there as far as I'm concerned. 

"There's no self-respect or pride there, and therefore those people would stab you in the back. If they don't respect themselves they won't respect anyone else. And I just used to generally worry about members of my crew catching things. Ugh? There's some awful dogs on the road. That's what we used to call them - dogs." 

How can she be so involved if she feels this way? She loosens up. 

"I can put up with them. As soon as they get to me they change. They want to talk to you rather than pull your body. But as soon as I see them pulling, I just leave the room. I don't want to be associated with that atall. The band used to go out pulling every night and I just used to go back to the hotel. I wouldn't go anywhere with them. I get so many men trying to pull me, but only a few try now cos of my bodyguard. They know I don't like it. 

"I just don't like being taken for granted like that. I'm not one of those 
women, er...So I am very heavily protected when it comes to fans getting near me. I'll talk to them, I'll do whatever they want, but I won't be balled by them." 

Virtuous Toyah, grand dreamer and shrewd determinist, wishes it known that she's really just started. Everything thus far has simply been experience for the ultimate. 

"I'm in a very tricky situation," she puzzles, locked away from external reality in this dressing room. "I've got so many movies in the pipeline. I've got an enormous worldwide record deal in the offing, unbelievably big, along with a world-famous producer wanting to work with me - someone who once had trouble finding a producer who liked my voice. It's an offer you can't refuse, no matter how rebellious you're supposed to be." 

Fame and fortune at all costs? 

"These offers are going to give me something that I wouldn't really like to be, but are going to give me the chance to do things in later life. I need fame and fortune to carry on my own ideas. My ambition is to be self-financed, not to be held down by censorships and thing like that. I just want to be completely free and have time to myself and buy people for a change rather than them buying me." She laughs her stacatto giggle, as if to say she doesn't mean it - she probably does. 

Toyah Willcox dreams her dreams - and lives some of them. 

"I'm not leaving my punk fans behind atall," she reprimands me, though I don't really care. "That's where the original chaos comes in. I always want to have that sort of energy there. I want to be big because it means I've got a good chance of fucking the whole world up." She pours her conversation into a dream. "Which is a really nice image to have. I think it's really great! What's the point of having a good thing on a small scale when you can have it on a big level, and let everyone suffer it? It's a fucking great idea. 

"My idea of a good time is seeing a world revolution and no-one knowing what to do, when everyone dumps the cars and starts looting." 

Someone like you will be the first to go when that happens. 

"It'll threaten me but I'll enjoy it very much. Don't worry, I've got my fair share of tommy guns stashed away. 

"I'm waiting." 

For you, her public.

NME
25th Oct 1980