Totally Hooked On Success"
On the eve of
her first concert tour in two years, the normally
punky and perky Toyah is, frankly, scared stiff.
But as she explained to Judith Simons, if you
crave attention, you have to face the
Willcox is facing a terrifying ordeal - going
back on the road as a singer for the first time
in two years.
really scared," Toyah confessed. "Until
I decided to take a break from my music career
and concentrate on acting I did a concert tour
every four months.
people think touring is a holiday," she
continued, "but I don't! I never go to
parties after a show. I save my energy. I get
away from everybody and think about the
talking to Toyah at the offices of her management
company in Chelsea. With her bright orange hair
swept neatly across her forehead and in plain
black trousers and thigh-length floral shirt, the
tiny 4 foot 11 inch star looked more like a
trendy business executive than a flamboyant pop
heard all the daunting rumours...that classmates
had been terrified of her temper...that she'd
spent her teens at loggerheads with her
parents...that she'd been overfond of the bottle.
So, were they true or headline seeking
to dispel the rumour about booze...
drinking was never anything more than a social
thing," she said emphatically.
home in Birmingham we had wine with our meals and
sometimes I got quite sozzled. And you know what
happens when you grow up. You go out to dinner
and someone orders a drink, so you have one with
them. Then they order wine, so you have a glass
of wine too.
never actually enjoyed it though. Drinking made
me feel unsafe and insecure. So last year I just
stopped. I don't want to reach middle age and
regret things I did when I was younger. Now I'm a
teetotal, non-smoking vegetarian." She
flexed her shoulders, "I've never felt more
aware, more alive."
doubt, will stick to her fitness regime. Her
tenacity in doing what is good for her is
remarkable - as her career already shows.
record albums have been hits. Her current one, The
Minx, is her ninth. Typical of the shock
tactics she employs is the single from it, I'll
Serve You Well, but the provocative title and
theme is just part of her professional
song was inspired by The Story Of 'O',"
Toyah gave a sly smile as she referred to the
French erotic classic. "It's about a female
enjoying the guilt of the man who is dominating
her life, a touch of sado-masochism.
course I have no personal experience whatsoever
of this kind of thing," she added
romantic and have a very healthy relationship
with my wonderful chap, Tom Taylor."
her words, Toyah held out a bejewelled hand.
Almost hidden between two large, exotic rings was
a plain platinum band.
gave me this as an engagement ring," she
said. "Typical man's choice. We got engaged
four years ago.
a guitarist, a very good one, but when we first
met he had taken a job as my bodyguard because he
needed the money. From the start we hit it off
very well. Now we live together in a place I
bought three years ago."
Toyah in a
home setting? Standing in an apron at the cooker?
I just couldn't imagine it.
you've got me wrong! I love all that!" she
said, quite put out. "I'm a brilliant cook.
Love inventing recipes and baking cakes for
feel we owe it to ourselves to have enough basic
skills between us so that we could survive
whatever happens. We share the housework and the
gardening. Tom repairs our shoes and he's
brilliant at carpentry. I bought an old brass
bedstead for a tenner and he's made a beautiful
he's at his joinery, I do upholstery. And I love
making my own clothes.
the scars?" she continued, holding out her
hands again. "They're domestic war wounds.
This little one is where I stuck the needle in my
finger when I was sewing on buttons. And
this" - she showed me a livid streak across
her thumb - "was where I cut myself when I
was opening a tin of corned beef - the only meat
I eat. It was very late at night, I was tired and
I didn't take care when I opened the tin. I woke
up Tom and he took me to hospital."
asked if she and Tom took an interest in each
other's music, the softness immediately left
work, we're two seperate individuals," she
well nigh snapped.
don't want him running my career and I don't want
to run his. He has a band he plays with, but I
have nothing to do with it whatsoever. I just let
him get on with it.
have a room at the top of the house where I write
songs and he has a music room on the middle
floor. We never ask each other's opinions of our
compositions. This is how our relationship will
did have teething troubles when we were young,
especially as my work took me away a lot,"
she went on, "but by now we know how we feel
about each other, and we trust each other and
that gives us strength when we're
Toyah when she and Tom planned to marry.
we're ready to have a child," she said. And,
dismissing rumours she was pregnant, "At
present I don't want children at all. I have no
maternal instinct, so why have a child and let it
suffer! Maybe when I'm about 40 I'll think
differently about it, but just at present I want
to concentrate on my career."
career" has dominated Toyah since she was
old enough to know what it meant.
born independent and a bit of a loner," she
said, "and I wanted the attention a
performer gets. I wanted to express myself.
Watching films and television, I wanted to be
part of it.
I dyed my hair a lovely dark blue. I thought
somehow it would draw attention to me and help me
get into show business.
though my mother didn't like it and my teachers
at public and drama school objected, I still
people laughed at me I told them to mind their
own business. And I was right!
work quicker than any of the other
students," Toyah recalled triumphantly.
"At 18 I was on the stage of the National
Theatre - the greatest theatre in the
world." she smiled. "I made the most of
it. I was a terrible show-off."
year old Punk Rebel image also proved an asset
when she started her own band. But the outrageous
make-up and wild hair did not mean her mind was
to prove to experienced musicians that I was
dedicated," she said. "I had to act
like a stable human being. As a female you must
be specially careful not to make mistakes,
because the men won't let you forget
three years Toyah was in the charts, and an
established actress, with credits including The
Corn Is Green with Katherine Hepburn and the
role of Miranda in The Tempest.
careers ran comfortably parallel until 1983, when
she decided to push for screen and stage parts.
She played the lead in the stage play Trafford
Tanzi and last year starred with Laurence
Olivier in the television film The Ebony Tower.
she is in the video Murder: The Ultimate
Grounds For Divorce, a suspense thriller in
which she plays Roger Daltrey's wife. And in the
TV film Movie Queen she teamed up with
was a tongue-in-cheek very black comedy,"
Toyah said. "I played a ruthless drama
student in conflict with a legendary star.
the time, in my work, I keep moving on," she
continued. "The same goes for my private
life. I have a lot of energy and I can't just sit
back. Being so ambitious is a real pain. I can
never relax - I'm totally hooked on success.
Sometimes I wish I could change but the truth is
I love my work. I work hard, and I save my money
because I'm always aware my career could be very
I asked her
if she had some hidden weakness...some flaw which
could have thwarted her ambitions. She has after
all been frank to the Press about her lack of
height and "lousy little legs".
for a few seconds, then, "I used to be
fat," she confessed suddenly. "At the
age of 20 I weighed ten and a half stone. I
didn't care about good food.
still crave chocolate. But now, when I get the
urge I take a spoonful of honey or a handful of
dates instead. And occasionally - this is my big
treat - I'll eat a slice of bread."
evidently, craving success is the only urge she