On stage, Toyah Willcox is a spell-binding performer with crazy clothes, brightly coloured hair and new-wave music. Off stage she also knows a bit about spells - having practised black magic and put curses on her enemies. She even admits that she has slept in a coffin. Toyah, now 23, developed what she calls "a morbid curiosity" in black magic when she was at school. Teachers told her firmly not to meddle in it. "But that, of course, just made me want to look into it a lot further," says Toyah.

As a pupil at an all-girls' public school in Birmingham, she put curses on some of her classroom rivals. "I would put them on girls who had been really nasty to me.

"They'd do very badly in end-of-term exams."

As well as her own curses, Toyah also experimented with ouija boards and levitation, though she says she has now stopped practising black magic.

A chilling experience shook her family when she was just 14. Toyah takes up the story.

"My sister was working in a hospital cancer ward, which she found very disturbing. One particular day, an old lady died and she was very distressed.

"That night my sister was in her room and the old lady appeared by way of thanking her for her help.

"My sister began to rise out of her bed - levitate - and, in the next room, so did my father. He nearly had a heart attack!

"Meanwhile, posters in my room had started flying in all directions.

"Similar things happened to me all the time. We always thought the house was haunted. And it wasn't until my sister married a psychiatrist that we realised we did it.

"I get a lot of letters from adolescents who say things like that happens to them. At the time, I thought I was going mad."

Toyah added that, even now, she's the only one who can sleep in her old bedroom in the house.

"It's as if I left something of me there... my vibrations." she says.

"My mother had to sleep there not long ago. She woke up in the night to hear a man's voice saying what he wanted to do to her!"

But Toyah's bedroom was in no way as chilling as the spot where she later slept. that was an empty South London warehouse... and her bed was a coffin in which it was said she slept naked.

"I certainly slept in a coffin," said Toyah. "But as to sleeping nude, I don't see what I wore or didn't had to do with it."

When Toyah was living in the warehouse, she had to get by on just 10-a-week dole money.

At first, she had been sleeping on a blanket on the cold concrete floor - but then she met two zany French actors who were travelling round in an ambulance with a coffin in the back.

"It was a fibre-glass accident coffin, and they gave it to me," says Toyah. "It was much warmer than sleeping on the floor.

"Down below was a morgue, and the people who worked there said I could have a proper coffin with a lining. But the boss found out, so I didn't get the new coffin."

While Toyah was there, she was robbed of papers and diaries.

"There were these two guys living underneath, and I had this really bad feeling about them. They kept laughing at me, and I think I just concentrated on them..."

Three weeks later, a CID man knocked on the warehouse door and asked Toyah and her boyfriend of the moment to walk to the end of the alley that ran alongside.

Toyah adds: "We got to the end and these two men came out of their door. At the moment, police cars, with sirens blaring, drove up and surrounded them.

"They had robbed me. I got everything back. But I knew there was something that really made me hate them."

Home for Toyah now is a North London flat which she shares with her boyfriend and former bodyguard, Tom Taylor, 25.

Wherever Toyah goes, the fans pursue her. Recently, 14 boys slept in her garden. "Just to say hello," said Toyah.

Although she's becoming a singing superstar and is also appearing increasingly as an actress on TV - the BBC have offered her a magazine series - Toyah restricts herself to a weekly "wage" of 50.

She explains: "I have been paying off debts for three years."

And finally the question that all Toyah's fans are dying to know. What's her hair really like?

"Naturally, it's dark," she says. "I first dyed it when I was 15. I have been dyeing it ever since."

Titbits, November 1981