Changing Face Of TOYAH
Princess Of Punk to highly acclaimed actress,
Toyah Willcox has proved herself a versatile
performer. Currently appearing as Wayne Sleep's
leading lady in the West End hit Cabaret, she
took time off to talk to Penny Farmer
raunchy, rock rebel, sex symbol - Toyah Willcox
has been dubbed all of these in the past. But
today she's accepted and successful, and what's
more she's achieved it with little compromise to
her rebellious outbursts and zany looks.
career has been as varied as her wardrobe of
clothes and make-up. And far from resting on her
laurels, 1987 finds Toyah a mature and
accomplished performer with a star role in Cabaret.
She also has a new album out next month, which
follows hot on the heels of a recently released
last year to rock musician Robert Fripp - the
legendary figure behind King Crimson - Toyah is
adamant that marriage has not changed her.
"I never want to give up work, I enjoy it
too much. I've no plans to have a family as
I feel I've no connection with children. Anyway
they're too much of a responsibility," she
would seem the old outrageous Toyah is still
there but under a different guise. The new guise
was reflected in Toyah's wedding gown. Out went
the famous day-glo clothes and accessories and in
came a frothy off-the-shoulder gown in pink and
champagne satin with leg of mutton sleeves,
topped off with a veil. But, with typical Toyah
flourish, her hair was orange and her pink shoes
had black heels. "We weren't going to bother
dressing up but I changed my mind at the last
minute," says Toyah with a grin.
greatest accolade came last October when she was
invited to sit next to the Princess Of Wales and
give a speech on the theme of "Vision"
at the annual Women Of The Year Lunch. "I
enjoyed it immensely, It had such a good feel to
it - the atmosphere was alive." she admits
she had some butterflies before she spoke.
"But there was such a great feeling of unity
and lack of aggression that in the end my speech
took over any nerves I had."
looked almost conservative for the occasion,
dressed in a black satin suit - though her hair
was brashly brassy! "I know I used to look
outrageous, but in Birmingham, where I grew up,
people didn't make any effort to dress up and I
didn't want to end up like them," says the
woman who at 15 dyed her hair bright blue and
wore her fringe in a point down her nose. Since
then her hair has been pink, green, yellow and
orange, and worn in a variety of weird and
way I looked a few years ago used to shock
people. I was three stone overweight and very
broad. At one stage I had all my hair on top
shaved off, leaving the long points at the sides.
drama school they said I was too distinguishable
and I wouldn't get anywhere with such a strong
image. I think that was codswallop! I can always
wear a wig and different clothes and
expert make-up artist, Toyah produced her own
range of cosmetics in 1982.
rarely go out without some make-up, and if it's a
special occasion it can take me up to two hours
to apply it and get the effect I want. I find
it's a good way to relax."
just as well she feels this way as her make-up
for Cabaret takes her about one and a half
hours to do. But eight performances each week
tend to take their toll on her skin, so she's now
following a strict beauty regime. "I find
the stage lights really dry out my skin so each
night after a performance I cleanse my face
thoroughly. I then put on a mud pack to lift
excess oil and finally moisturize with a good
a week Toyah treats her hair with henna wax. And
once every two months she has her naturally dark
brown hair professionally bleached a "honey
blonde". "I'd never go back to my
natural colour - I like being blonde too
much," she says.
her stocking feet she stands just four feet
eleven, but what she lacks in height she makes up
for in personality. "When I was younger I
would have dearly loved to change my height, but
now I accept what I look like. I spent years
hobbling around in stilettos trying to look
taller, but now I prefer to bounce around in
flatties. I feel much more energetic." Short
she may be, but Toyah's certainly in proportion,
varying between a size eight and ten. "I
like to make the most of my small waist with
well-cut, fitted clothes."
favourite designers include English Eccentrics,
Claude Montana and Japanese designer Issey
Miyake. "I like wearing loud clothes and
designs with some black in them, but on the whole
I tend to ignore fashion."
keeps her seven and a half stone frame in trim by
regular work-outs in a London club - weight
lifting three times a week, and body control
exercises twice a week.
is an environmentalist and a strong believer in
the survival of threatened species. For these
reasons she's a vegetarian and hasn't touched red
meat for the past six years. Toyah also takes
vitamins every day, "I think they're vital
for keeping your system perked up."
where does the future lie for this multi-talented
performer? "I'd like to keep both my acting
and singing careers going. One area that I
haven't worked in and would like to is American
films and television. I'm just waiting for a good
offer to come along. One thing's for sure, I've
no intention of giving up. I'm a
all accounts the ever changing face of Toyah
looks set to be around for a long time yet!
Magazine - 1987
Thanks to Michael Cooney