She was the pouting flame-haired punk princess
who stormed the charts in 1981 with her trademark lisp. An older, calmer
Toyah Willcox reminisces with Nick Fiaca.
"1981 was the greatest year of my life! I had
my first hit single with It's A Mystery and two other top tens later that
year." laughs Toyah.
"It was a fabulous, let's party! year - but very
innocent by today's standards. I had a lovely time just touring the world
getting VIP treatment."
Among Toyah's hits that year I Want To Be Free
and Thunder In The Mountains. Ironically, though, Toyah hated the song
that made her name.
"I didn't like It's A Mystery. It was a compromise
with the record company, but it just took off within hours, taking everyone
by surprise!" confesses Toyah, 41, who has been
married to musician Robert Fripp since 1986.
With her wild, flame-coloured hair, Toyah had
a unique, pouting style. And she's still proud of her controversial early
eighties image. "When I look back I see a startlingly
young vibrant person, which I defy anyone to
try and be 20 years on. I'm furiously proud of that time. It wasn't an
overnight success, it took five years of solid touring to get there. When
I see pictures of myself then I think 'Yeah that's cool'.
"But if you'd asked me how I felt about my hair
at the end of the eighties I'd have cringed. Now it's kind of come
around again and it still works.
Although she still does around 150 gigs a year,
and is recording a new album for release next year, Toyah's branched into
other areas of showbiz. She has clocked up dozens of stage
and screen roles, including BBC comedy My Barmy
Aunt Boomerang this month, as well as presenting shows like Holiday on
I wanted to do more with my imagination and work
in areas where I don't have to go to the gym three hours a day and exist
on a diet of lettuce leaves," she says.
"If you live in a bubble you don't evolve, and
the greatest fearI had was staying fixed in the eighties.
"I'm much more private now. Everyone knows who
I am, but I can still walk down the street, which I couldn't then."
Sunday Magazine, 1999