Cabaret may be over for Toyah Willcox but she's
still got plenty to sing about. Jill Eckersley
sounds out her new album...
her stint in the West End musical Cabaret coming
to such an abrupt end recently, after a dramatic
walk-out by the production's orchestra over
allegations of drunkeness and incompetence, the
show must still go on for Toyah. For starters
there's her brand new album, Desire, just
out..."I wanted to make an album which
expressed a lot of different emotions from a
woman's point of view," she explains.
"There's a modern feminist feel to it. I
think we are moving into an era where
independent, intelligent women feel that they can
be feminine too. I'm a great supporter of women
because I think we have a unique spirit, though
maybe I'm not a true feminist, because so much of
my work is based on sexuality."
she's committed wholeheartedly to her latest
vinyl offering but surely she must have been
disappointed when her role as Sally Bowles in the
ill-fated musical was so suddenly curtailed? It
is naturally a very sensitive subject and Toyah
is reluctant to enter into slanging matches about
the quality of the orchestra, who, it was
alleged, played practical jokes, turned up drunk
and played out of tune! "Being a rock
musician, you're used to battling against lousy
musicians," she shrugs. "Generally it
was a happy show, and most of us stuck to the
professional discipline. For me Cabaret was very
has certainly moved on from the flame-haired Punk
Princess of Jubilee, Quadrophenia and The
Tempest. And not only has she had the controversy
of Cabaret to contend with, she has also just
celebrated her first year of married life to rock
virtuoso Robert Fripp of King Crimson.
life is fine, but I don't get much of it,"
she says dryly. "I have a flat in London and
Robert has a house in Dorset. At the moment, we
don't see that much of each other. He worked on
my album with me and we've decided to work
together much more in the future so that we can
actually be together more."
a lot of working women, in and out of show
business, Toyah is inclined to feel the conflict
between her career demands and her
I could never, ever give up my career and just be
a wife. My life is motivated and regenerated by
my work, and I'm at my best and most balanced
when I'm working. When I'm not, I just fall
asleep! Besides, I think it's very important for
a woman to be financially independent. Part of
the basis of our marriage is that we both pay our
own way. I suppose when you have children you
have to surrender that independence for a time,
but neither of us want children"...
sounded so adamant about this that I had to ask
can't identify with children at all, and I don't
feel that I need them in my life," she
maintains. "Any maternal instinct I have is
directed towards humanity as a whole, not just a
small nuclear family. We should be protecting
people, animals, plants from all the new and
lethal problems which affect us all. Everyone,
all over the world, has the right to work, to
food and warmth, so they feel it's good to be
Toyah avoids making any overt political
statements in her work. "All I can do is
give people pleasure by performing and maybe
prove something by the way I live - encouraging
vegetarianism, for instance," she says.
"I can't change the world, no entertainer
can do that, but I can at least be aware of
what's going on. Great Britain is a very divided
country at the moment and that distresses
feels that Eighties teenagers are a lot brighter
and more aware than she was. "I come from a
middle-class background, and it was only through
Punk that I became aware of the desperation and
frustration of working class problems," she
admitted. "I'd never been unemployed, so I
didn't know what it was like. I'm very concerned
to keep people off drugs, too."
also feels that AIDS poses a different kind of
sexual pressure from the kind she grew up with.
"If you didn't sleep with a boy on your
first date you were ridiculed," she said.
"Pressures like that have got to change and
women have to learn to say no. As for AIDS, well,
casual sex has never appealed to me. I'm a one
man woman. In fact I think the AIDS threat is
going to save a lot of show business marriages!
If you have to be apart a lot, unfaithfulness can
be a problem. On the other hand, if you're single
and you meet someone you really like, it's sad to
have to tell them you're not going to have sex
for three months until they've taken an AIDS
test! I'm also glad to see TV and the media being
positive and informative, and the rock business
doing such a lot to help."
three years since Toyah last made an album and
she says that Desire is more rock oriented than
her earlier work. She co-wrote most of the songs
and among the musicians she used, apart from her
husband, was Rolling Stones guitarist, Ron Wood.
Amazingly, Toyah says her earliest inspiration
came from The Sound Of Music!
saw it about seven times," she admitted.
"I loved the innocence, the naiveté, and
above all the idea of giving pleasure to an
audience. That's when I decided I had to act and
in Hollywood? I suggested. "I'd love
to!" was Toyah's response. "I love
Harrison Ford and Martin Sheen and all those
American stars. I'm not sure I'd fit into the
Hollywood system though. If I don't like people I
tend to tell them to f... off!"
Thanks to Michael Cooney