Bereted Treasure

Somewhere in the centre of France, stands a sleepy chateau covered in rich red Virginia Creeper and surrounded by green fields and hysterical Guinea Fowl, where the evening light casts a golden glow to the ancient stonework and shadows stretch languidly across the unkempt courtyard lawn. 

Also standing in the centre of France and indeed in the centre of the same courtyard, is the tiny suntanned figure of  Toyah Willcox, whose hot Italian pink hair perfectly complements the creeper on the wall, creating a cosmic colour symphony that leaves even the ear shattering Guinea Fowl speechless. (Yes, yeas, but what about the wacky quotes? - Dep Ed) 

She's out here to film a television adaptation of a John Fowles short story, 'The Ebony Tower', with Sir Laurence Olivier, Greta Scaatchi and Rodger Rees. Toyah, who's back in the charts with 'Rebel Run', plays the part of The Freak, aka Anne. 

"It's set in the sixties," Toyah explains, almost swallowed up in the cushioning of an armchair back at the hotel. She looks trim and relaxed and pleased, as birds twitter unconcernedly outside. 

"The Freak is supposed to have red hair, which probably meant just henna in those days. So to update it a bit, it's been taken literally to mean pillar-box red or something. 

"She's supposed, also, to be totally uninhibited as well, and walk around stark naked and things like that," Toyah grimaces. "But I said I wasn't gonna do that so I spent hours with the director being reassures that I 
wouldn't have to." 

Obviously people watching wouldn't see an actress doing what the part requires, they'd simply see Toyah Willcox in the nod and say, "Coorrrr!" right? 

"Yes, that's right, and of course I didn't want that to happen," Toyah nods and clasps one knee. "Also I think it's far more effective to just suggest nudity, with, like, bare shoulders and back shots, which leaves the rest to the imagination, so that's what's been done." 

At this point, a massive great brute of an alsation (dog, not a native of Alsace) pushes the door open and barges into the room, proceeding to roll growling with wild abandon on the rug. 

"Nice pooch," I say, drawing my knees up under my skirt and eyeing le chien des les Baskervilles warily. 

"Oh he's lovely," Toyah laughs, patting its fearsome snout fondly. 

How are you getting on with Sir Laurence Olivier, then? 

"He's beautiful," she smiles. 

"Living proof that no matter how your body ages, your mind never gets old. 

"He has this aura about him," Toyah frowns slightly as if wondering if this is the right word to use. "I mean, I don't swear when he's around. He would probably understand and be tolerant if I did, but I just don't. 

"We all call him Sir," she adds to illustrate the point. "You can't get over-familiar with him - he's not the sort of person you can."

Suddenly, bored with the rug Fido exits through the French windows to assault the garden, thumping the coffee table with his tail as he goes. 

Your new album shows a definite progression, I say, but I can't quite pin down what's changed. How have you progressed, do you think? 

Toyah purses her crimson lips, thinking of the best way to answer. "When I did 'Trafford Tanzi', it really taught me a lot, and it inspired me to really explore the emotion of love. 

"For the first time, I was really close to people, to my fans. I mean, usually I was bundled from car to building, from building to car surrounded by bodyguards and nobody could get near me," she explained with a slightly rueful smile. 

"But doing the six months of 'Trafford Tanzi' I found myself able to say 'stuff that' for the first time and travel alone. That's where I got the inspiration for 'Love Is The Law'. It may sound strange, even a bit corny, but I really wanted to write in depth about the emotion of love because of the warmth I got from the audience." 

What then did she uncover during the excavations? 

"It's been said that love is a hungry emotion," Toyah says, carefully savouring the phrase like a particularly tasty sweet you don't want to finish. "Like, 'Broken Diamonds' on the new album is all about wanting someone and not knowing how to tell them or being ashamed to." 

My attention is suddenly caught by two very real looking 'eye' rings on Toyah's small fluttering hands. Fascinated by this somewhat macabre sight, I can't help asking where she 
got them. 

"Oh, there's a bloke down Carnaby Street who I asked to make them for me. All his jewellery is like Tolkien stuff, 'Lord of the Rings' stuff." 

She grins at my own abundance of silver, moonstone, gold and pewter that bleeped embarrassingly through the Heathrow metal detector. "I'm hoping to start designing jewellery soon. It'll all be sort of fairytale inspired stuff. 

"I love all that," she smiles. "Fairies, elfins, all that...OH! there's this terrific book out by a Sylvia, um, dum de dum- thingumy that you should read, some American with a double barrelled name. It's brilliant, like fairytales but for adults." 

It must sometimes feel like a difficult choice between acting and singing as you obviously love both, do you hope to continue to combine the two? 

"Yes, I do love both, but really the singing can't really continue much after the age of 40, but acting is something I've always done and hope I always will."

By Jessie McGuire 

Record Mirror, 1983