When she was
younger, Toyah used to hide behind an aggressive
punk front. Now, at 26 going on 27, she explains
why she wants the zaniness to come from
first time I met Toyah, five years ago,
she was a punkette with a riot of orange hair.
Today, we're in a photographic studio, bare
except for two canvas chairs and a table with
refreshments. She's dressed simply but stylishly
in a loose jacket and trousers. Her style has
obviously mellowed, but has Toyah?
much more mature than I was five years ago, yes,
but I wouldn't go as far as saying that I've
mellowed with age.
I was younger, I didn't understand people and I
took offence easily, so I was always defending
myself when I didn't need to. I don't do that
know what I want out of life now and I won't stop
until I get it. If anything, I'm hungrier than
to her dismay, people still regard Toyah as the
punkette with orange hair, and not as the serious
actress she has worked so hard to become, or the
successful singer, a side of her career she is
pumping much of her energies into at this very
smiled when I reminded her of our first meeting,
back in the days when people like her paved the
path of outrage for others to swagger down after
no desire to be outrageous anymore," she
says, laughing, "although I still like to
keep ahead of fashion, I'm coming up to 27 now,
and I'd much rather portray the image of a woman
who knows what she's doing rather than someone
who simply looks zany. These days, I'd prefer the
zaniness to come from within."
the long silence since your last single?
I've changed record labels and that took about
nine months - I won't bore you with the
I'd like to broaden out generally - I've always
felt that my image alienated me from a wider
you ever used your image to hide behind?
did when I was a kid. It got me attention and it
kept people at bay. I don't hide anymore, and I
don't have to lie anymore which I did when I was
was a compulsive liar - I used to make things up
all the time just to have something to talk
about! I don't do that now because my life is
interesting, there's no need to lie about
wasn't a very attractive kid, and I wasn't a very
likeable one, either. I had absolutely no
charisma. I was lonely and scared of everything
then - I just didn't enjoy being young atall. I
could never get on with people. My mind was
thinking things that my mouth couldn't utter, so
no one ever got to know the real me.
back, I suppose I had an enormous communication
problem from the time I was very small until I
was 18. I liked people, but the words that came
out of my mouth were always very aggressive. You
can't imagine how frustrating it was. It meant
there was no close contact with anyone, and no
love. On the outside, I was a complete loner, but
inside I was desperately trying to break free,
someone who badly needed affection but who didn't
know how to ask for it.
outrageously was simply a means of getting
attention. I think most people go through that
phase. There's nothing worse than seeing a kid
with no identity whatsoever.
you get older, you keep your identity but you
smooth the edges down. It's a natural
progression. Let's face it, there's nothing more
ridiculous than seeing a 40-year-old woman with
too much make up, and clothes that would suit a
despite the 'smoothed down image' you're still
the same old Toyah underneath?
yeah! When I go out on the road, people will
still see the same Toyah.
couldn't bear to look the same all my life,
though. I'll get bored with this look and then
I'll move on. I've done the bright thing with the
coloured hair - I was one of the first people to
do it, and I'm quite happy with that. I only do
things to experience them once. I don't want to
stay in the same slot for the rest of my
your latest change of image a calculated one?
is, if I didn't calculate, then other people
would be in charge of my life and that's the last
thing I need. I know exactly what I'm capable of
doing and what I should be aiming for."
is all about learning, and I've learned more in
the last 10 years than I ever did at school. I'd
like the rest of my life to be like that -
gaining knowledge in order to do all the things I
want to, like writing scripts and producing films
and albums. My life simply isn't a matter of
singing and performing, going home and relaxing,
and then going on a holiday on a glamorous yacht.
Life to me is about gaining knowledge and
experience, because there's a lot I want to do in
the future, and I'm doing my homework now.
no doubt that Toyah relishes the coming of her
late twenties, and sees it as a chance to be
taken seriously at last.
of my problems is that I'm physically small, I
have this doll-like image and the voice which is
very naive. It makes it harder for me to be taken
do people react when they meet you for the first
people find me very annoying, others want to
protect me. It doesn't bother me too much, it's
something I've learned to cope with.
they have so many preconceived ideas about me -
that I'm loud and brash all the time or
alternatively very giggly. It's up to me to break
those ideas down."
received a massive amount of publicity not so
long ago following her nude scene in the TV
Production of The Ebony Tower.
appearing in the nude an embarrassing experience?
I did Trafford Tanzi, by the end of the
night, my costume was completely see-through, but
people accepted that because of the situation I
was in - I was playing the part of a wrestler and
I'd been fighting all night, sweating buckets and
The Ebony Tower, the nudity was of a
sexual kind, even though it was beautifully shot.
My fear was that it would be taken out of context
and it was. On the awards show, for instance,
they showed that one scene. But I did that scene
for the film and nothing else, and I'd hate those
shots to be seen in any other context.
rather not be seen naked in a magazine, but I
accepted the fact that some weirdos might take
pictures from the television and then print them
in magazines. I'm slowly coming to terms with
that, because I detest exploitation of any
hasn't happened to me yet. but as soon as I
achieve any level of success, I expect the
pictures to start appearing, and it'll upset me
and make me very angry.
it came to doing the actual nude scene, it didn't
bother me too much. It was very relaxed, everyone
was very nice about it because they knew we
didn't want to do it - we were slugging brandy
down! - but there comes a point where you have to
swallow your pride and get on with it.
days I take more care of my body. I used to put
away a bottle of bacardi in social situations and
then find myself lying down drunk. I'm teetotal
now. I've never taken drugs and I won't tolerate
people who work for me taking drugs."
you happy with the way you look?
don't regard myself as having a body beautiful. I
think it's great when you see a beautiful man or
woman naked, but I'm not one of them. I'd rather
I wasn't judged by my physical nudity. I don't
want someone thinking, 'she's a real turn-off
without her clothes on, so I'm never going to
listen to her music again'. People are very naive
about things like that, so I have to be extra
careful about what I do.
are limits - I've turned down a heck of a lot of
scripts because they exploit women. I refuse to
make box office money out of scenes that are just
heavy porn. I simply won't do that."
to home ground. Where do you live these days?
Barnet. It's a three-storey Victorian house. I
have a gym there where I can exercise and dance,
and do my weightlifting. There's a recording
studio as well, so I can work on my songs. I have
a library which I use when I'm writing, and I
have a room where I design clothes, purely as a
hobby. I write in that room."
kind of books do you read?
have a collection of all kinds of books, really,
but the majority are on the occult, Egyptology
and science fiction. I read up on all the things
I collect - armour and occult artefacts like
crystal balls and palmistry hands as well as
Masai outfits and Masai jewellery.
always found the occult fascinating. Objects like
crystal balls are incredibly beautiful, and I
have them all over the place as ornaments. I'm
addicted to literature on the occult, and the way
people saw things centuries ago."
attitudes to her interest in all things occult
has changed drastically - on that first meeting,
she refused point blank to discuss it with me,
regarding it as "far too
I? That's because all the 'comic' papers mock it,
sensationalise it and generally try to cheapen
it. They want to make it out to be hocus-pocus,
black magic nonsense, and it's nothing to do with
some reason, I'd got it into my head that Toyah
was involved in a relationship with the guitarist
in her band. She's not, but she was very nice
about my slip up.
you mean Joel? That partnership lasted about
seven years, then I decided to go completely
solo. I've been with Tom, my present boyfriend,
for five years now. He's a guitarist, but not in
one relationship lasting for five years, and the
other for seven, Toyah is obviously a person who
commits herself rarely, but totally.
relationship with Joel wasn't personal, it was a
writing partnership. My relationship with Tom is
the first really serious one I've had. It takes
me a long time to settle down because I put my
treasure my independence and I'll fight for it
tooth and nail, but I also like the solidity of
my relationship with Tom. We know each other
inside out. He's a pillar of strength to me, but
I don't want him around all the time. I don't
want to be chained to anyone. If another woman
came into his life, I wouldn't fight for him.
There's no way I'd battle with another woman over
someone who has settled into a long-term
relationship, what do you think is the essential
ingredient for happiness?
leaving after your first argument!" Toyah
laughed. "In the first three years of our
relationship, we physically fought. It was hard
at times, but we never split.
don't fight atall now. Even if I'm in a stinking
mood and I lay into him, he doesn't answer back,
and vice versa, whereas in the old days we would
have had a real fight. It's all down to give and
you a difficult person to get on with at
course not!" she laughed. "Seriously,
though, I know I can be difficult when I'm
working. I need to be left alone the - I
can't communicate under pressure, especially when
I go from the hotel to the dressing room, out
onstage, back to the hotel, and to bed. Everyone
steers clear. I can't cope with friendly chit
chat because I'm too tense. If I had people with
me who wanted to communicate on a friendship
level, I'd fall out with them because my mind
would be on my work the whole time.
when I'm appearing on TV, people tend to leave me
alone because all I can think about is the
audience I'm about to play to. I don't have time
for people who want individual
sounds like a tortured existence. Is it?
a disciplined existence," Toyah corrected me
with conviction. "If you don't discipline
yourself, you end up surrounded by people who
don't even talk on the road, because all the time
you speak, you're ruining your voice. I just zip
my mouth shut all day, and that's tortuous
because obviously you meet people who want to
talk to you. If you want to sing at night, don't
talk during the day. You have to let your vocal
chords heal after a show, because singing in a
concert rips them apart.
things like room service, I have a notepad and
write everything down. Most of my fans know I
don't like to talk, but if I really have to, I
keep my voice to a whisper."
of Toyah the committed performer. What of Toyah
the woman? Can you see yourself being married
with 2.4 children?
kids are involved, marriage should be involved.
It takes two people to make a child, and they
should be committed to each other. I believe a
child should be brought up by its mother and its
father, and that's where marriage comes in.
Religion doesn't enter it really. If I had a
child, I'd have to be married, I wouldn't have
involved in a long-term relationship is only a
short step away from marriage, isn't it?
in my book. I don't play by the rules because I
like to be free. It's my freedom that makes me
close to Tom. I don't want to be owned by anyone,
and even if I had a kid, I'd feel it was imposing
on my privacy. I'd rather wait until I'm much
you old enough to have a child now?
I'm enjoying life and I don't want a child. I
don't have any feelings for children atall. I'd
like one eventually for the genetic eternity of
it, to carry my family on, but I won't be
pressurised to do so until I'm ready. I don't
have any pets because I don't want to acquire the
habits you get into, having to feed them three
times a day and generally looking after
obvious that even at 26, the idea of an ordered
existence has as much appeal to Toyah as a cross
in a vampire's wardrobe. She smiles at her own
distaste of all things routine.
hate it! I eat when I want to, and I hat knives
and forks. It's something that always upset my
parents - they used to thrust them into my hands
but I wouldn't use them. If I'm in a restaurant
I'll use a fork, but that's all.
eat mainly raw food. I'm a vegetarian through
choice, because I don't enjoy meat very much. I
eat fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, dried fruit,
nuts and that's it. Oh and fish, I love
domesticated are you?
find the process of cooking boring. If I have
people round for a meal, though, I'll sculpt food
for them - I love doing that.
home, I feed myself, and Tom does his own food.
If I want a cup of tea, I don't like being made
to feel I have to ask everyone else if they want
one. It's the same with food, I usually go to a
room to eat in private.
I was at school, it was really awkward, so I
stopped having school meals and just went off by
myself. I need to be alone sometimes and I can't
eat with other people if I'm under pressure. I
love eating out, though - Japanese, Malaysian and
people might say that eating raw food with no
knife and fork is a sight more freaky than orange
know! If only people could see me at home.
Everything is clean and ordered, but as for
social routines, I have none atall."
not completely true, because she offered me
another cup of tea.
Magazine, June 1985