|Toyah Rocks On
With A Vampiric Twist
Willcox tells Emma Pinch about the feminist
message in her new show and album
It was inevitable that one
day or, rather, one sunset pop star
Toyah Willcox would morph into a vampire.
This is the woman, after
all, who doesnt sleep, is on nodding terms
with the undead, and, judging from the evidence,
likes to bite life firmly in the throat.
This year Toyah, 50, has
her first studio album in 14 years, has created
Toyah TV, has walked the Gobi Desert and the
Great Wall of China with Olivia Newton John and
Danni Minogue, and is on an arena tour as a
Vampires Rock, by Steve
Steinman, is set in a New York club called Live
and Let Die. Its the year 2030 and the
undead are among us.
Toyahs character is
a femme fatale devil in high-heeled boots belting
out classic rock anthems. The former high
priestess of punk is, in her own words, a
bit of an attention seeker, so its a
She describes it as a sort
of Rocky Horror Show, songs from the likes of Bon
Jovi, Meatloaf, AC/DC, Led Zep and Twisted
Sister, providing a narrative, with plenty of
pyrotechnics and costume changes.
Vampire Rock is
about a 2,000-year-old Baron Von Rockula and he
wants to trade my character, The Devil Queen, in
for a younger model, enthuses Toyah. Its
the same old story that women have to live with
right through their lives. But it goes down so
well, she confesses, with her infectious
Baron Von Rockula
has found this new young protegé and its
about the battle between the three of them. Its
My character is very
manipulative, always threatening to kick her
husband out and beat up Pandora. Shes
pretty vile but audiences just love it. I get
such huge cheers.
Its full in
your face. Theres so much Nosferatu in it.
Being thrown over at a
certain age, with no intention of going quietly,
describes Toyahs own battle.
Lesser God, which opens
the show, was a song she wrote in protest at
women getting a raw deal. Women are treated
like second-class citizens, never more so than in
religion, she says. The title speaks
for itself. Because Im a woman, am I made
by a second-hand God? If women ruled the world, I
think it would be a very different world.
Though she says she
entered it with her eyes open, there are few
industries more sexist and ageist than showbiz.
She felt compelled to get
a facelift after Jonathan Ross criticised her
sagging looks on Im a Celebrity Get Me Out
of Here. But, in typical Toyah style, she
followed it up with the gruesomely honest Diary
of a Facelift. The public reaction touched her
Funnily enough, its
one of the strongest things Ive done in
being accepted as a human being. I just get
people coming up to me daily, thanking me for
that book. Women of my age say Thank you
for being honest.
When I had my
facelift, in the next room to me in Paris was a
very famous supermodel having her skin lasered
and resurfaced for this LOreal shoot for
skin cream. Its this whole thing that
women, within the cosmetic industry, are
constantly lied to to spend their money, and it
just makes me so angry the industry does that. I
actually think the book set a trend for being
more open and honest about things.
A childhood spent with
severe illness she had a twisted spine and
club feet left her extremely health
conscious. She shuns alcohol and smoking, and
gives talks about how to maintain health to enjoy
an active middle age.
Her achievements this year
were very consciously to send a
message to women her age that they could do it,
Im really so
dead against smoking and drinking, I dont
socialise in the company of people who do those
either. Im really very strong about it; its
cost me a lot of friendships.
If you plan and you
work hard and you keep your health, theres
no reason you cant have a fantastic life. I
see people destroy themselves by 30. Really you
should hit 50 and have a fantastic time.
Her new album, In The
Court of the Crimson Queen, pushes further the
song called Angel in You which is about bagging
the boy you never slept with in your 20s. And its
about Ive been meaning to do this for years
and Im leading you up the stairs to
wonderland. The only theme is I never denied my
age and never calmed down either. I wanted to
write sexy rock songs for my age group.
Shes so emphatic and
vivac- ious, its impossible to see how she
does it all without sleep.
Yet shes been a
chronic insomniac since 14, and says her body has
just adjusted to it.
It doesnt mean
Im up partying all the time, she
says. The thing with insomnia is once you
lose daylight your brain is as hopeless as
someone who sleeps. Youre literally in
suspended animation. In the summer its
fantastic because you only get about three hours
of darkness. Once youre in the winter
months, its about wading through mud.
About once every two
weeks I manage to sleep and its really good
solid sleep. Im OK if I sleep between 8am
and 10am, I can survive the day and thats
the only time I survive the day properly.
Toyah shares the wee hours
with ghosts that haunt her home, which lies in
the shadow of Pershore Abbey, in Worcestershire.
Its a situation shes airily
I live in a very old
house in a town renowned for hauntings. You see
them in the road. Its where I live, theres
a lot of history.
The internet has been a
blessing: I get up and go to my office and
pester people with email. People are very imp-
ressed when they get an email from me at two in
the morning. Until they realise I just dont
get any sleep, they seem to think theres
something superhuman about it.
You can hardly blame them.
Liverpool Daily Post