Toyah, Toyah, Toyah

Whether you think cosmetic surgery is sad, superficial vanity or a brave attempt to keep the march of time at bay, it's not often a household-name star admits to having had facial surgery. It's even rarer when she decides to make public a detailed, personal diary which gives a blow-by-blow account of the whole process, from the critical decision and the search for the right surgery, to the nerve-wracking waiting period, the surgery itself, the recovery and on to the final transformation. 

Yet that is exactly what Toyah Willcox did earlier this year when she launched a book detailing her own facelift experiences. As she embarks upon an "Audience with Toyah..." national tour, including a trip to Fife, here the former punk tells Michael Alexander why she felt compelled to write the book and why she thinks more celebrities should "come clean" on having had surgery. 

In her latest publicity pictures, Toyah Willcox looks younger than her 47 years, but then she's not scared to admit she had a face lift two years ago. Feeling and looking tired after a year touring in the title role of Calamity Jane, and after years of contemplation, she decided to freshen herself up because she "couldn't look at herself in the mirror any more". Battling "inner turmoil" about whether she was being vain or shallow - even as she prepared to go into theatre for the operation - she now says she has no regrets spending £7500 on the controversial surgery which, she says, rejuvunated her self-esteem. 

She only wished more celebrities would be honest with the public and themselves, however, by admitting they too have had surgery. 

"I don't know anyone presently in the industry who has not had cosmetic procedures done," the flame-haired diva told me from her home in London, her trademark lisp instantly recognisable. 

"Ninety per cent of people in entertainment wouldn't even class botox as a cosmetic procedure. And the audiences wonder why these people never seem to age!" 

Toyah said she felt compelled to write her book, Diary Of A Facelift, for so many reasons, but one of the many is that she feels cosmetic surgery is not about vanity and A-list superstars, but increasingly about "survival" in a world where most people live longer than ever, raising questions about stars' rights to remain in the workforce. 

"Good health comes from diet and exercise, but I feel very strongly that dishonesty is not right," she continued. "If the A-list stars keep getting younger yet deny they have had surgery, they are, in a way allowing the inappropriate surgeons to prosper and the brilliant surgeons to exist in secrecy. We all deserve equality when it comes to seeking self-improvement - as we all increasingly are. But I don't think surgery's a necessity to get on in the entertainment industry. I had a body dismorphic disorder. I did it to improve my self-esteem, and it worked 100%. But that was a personal thing for me. No one should ever have plastic surgery because others have told them to."

Although her facelift is topical and is bound to be mentioned when she holds her "Audience with..." event in deepest, darkest Lochgelly on Sunday, the star says she won't be saying too much about it. "Some people might not even be able to look at a syringe. Most of those who have fainted when I've talked about it in the past have been men. I even had a cameraman pass out on me once! So I won't be going into too much detail. A lot of people out there won't want to know!" 

So what, then, can the audience expect? 

"It's going to be very informal and I will be singing because I'd be mad to do this and not be singing. We'll be doing it in two halves. In the first half I'll be talking about my life with anecdotal statements and giving an insight into showbiz. I'm in control of that part because I know what I'm going to talk about. 

"The second half though will take the form of a question-and-answer session, and it can go anywhere. I love doing that. It's usually very funny. People ask me the most bizarre questions and it can really go off at a tangent. 

"This will be my first tour. I've never done anything like this before. But it's not new for me. The thing is a lot of the work I've done the public have not seen. I do motivational talks. I do them in private and have never done them before a public audience. I've done 20 years of after-dinner speaking. This tour will be a very real thing to do. To be face to face with an audience just feet away, it'll be nice, fun and informal." 

Billed as a chance to "meet Toyah and hear her inspirational, funny and unorthodox life story", the audience will certainly have plenty of material to ask about in her diverse career, fro mher days as an iconic rock star in the 1970s to the TV presenter and author. Musical accompaniment will come from Chris Wong, the guitar player of her curent band line-up. 

The remainder of this article is an abdriged version of Toyah's official biog, available to read, in full, at www.toyahwillcox.com/bio.html 
 

Dundee Courier
21st September 2005
Thanks to Alec Kelly