Reveals Her Secret Desires
like to have Bo Derek's body and someone else's
wasn't until my third interview in nine weeks
with Toyah that I felt confident enough to broach
the subject of sex. As casually as I possibly
could, I suggested to her that compared to other
female artists ranging from Kim Wilde to Kate
Bush to Souxsie, her image contains virtually no
sex appeal, despite being a young, vivacious,
think, supposedly onstage, there's much more sex
appeal than in the photos" she counters.
" But I couldn't do an Annabella (Lwin of
Bow Wow Wow), I couldn't show parts of my
There's that infamous pic of you with one breast
bared and daubed with painted circles which has
appeared almost everywhere from Sounds and Punk's
Not Dead to The Sun!
the 'boob photo' that's the only one that exists,
and no one knows why that was done" she
offers matter of factly.
you want to tell?
was a complete joke, an absolute joke! It's not
what Gary Bushell thinks atall!" she laughs.
"It was done because Playboy asked me to do
a spread and I said, 'Look, I'm not physically up
to the standard of your girls so I just painted
huge spots all over myself. This was in the days
when I was quite outrageous and didn't feel any
sort of commitment to someone - if I did
something like that now it would hurt
I did a picture that was not to look glamorous
atall, it was kinky and quite outrageously
disgusting in a way and I sent it to them saying
'piss off, this is not what you want!' It was
taken during a promotional session and I asked
the photographer to do a favour by taking this
one shot, but he kept the negatives and sold them
to everybody as soon as I got well known. What
annoys me is not the photo itself, but that
people think it was part of a seedy session. And
yet the whole point of the photo was to fight
against the image!
like the whole thing has back fired on me, my own
diversity has been turned around and used as a
weapon against me, whereas I was trying to use it
as a weapon against pornography by being sort of
decadent. It just didn't work, simple as
you regret that now?
don't regret it - I want to kill the f***king
photographer though! Because he's selling this
picture making out he's done a dirty session with
me and he certainly hasn't. But I don't regret
regret it for my younger fans, because they don't
understand it, they see it as what the papers
have been saying about me and I regret that,
because it's sad for them, it's like they've been
betrayed. But they haven't been betrayed, so I
don't regret the picture - I want to kill the
people who have exploited it."
getting back to what we were originally talking
about, is it a deliberate policy for Toyah not to
have a sexual image, maybe because you've got
I mean...I just haven't got any sex appeal!
What's the point of trying to put across
something you just haven't got? All those other
wild images are part of what's in my head, so I
don't feel I'm wearing a mask, I'm just
portraying another side of me.
lounging around in sex kitten poses or young
poses - because I'm not young anymore by a lot of
standards - would be telling a blatant lie. I've
got to be me."
you seen the latest photo of Annabella?
- someone has got to tell her that she's got
enough talent and she's going to be enormous
without having to do that. She doesn't have to do
it through paedophilia or taking her clothes off
- she's gorgeous, but she's got enough talent to
avoid all that."
was a rare flash of Toyah's anger - contrasting
sharply with her patient, witty, anecdote
spilling interview manner - revealing the high
esteem in which she holds Annabella of Bow Wow
Wow. In a previous meeting she'd confided she
admires her almost to the point of jealousy,
"and so young!" she adds
the time I travelled up to Liverpool to see the
Toyah band in action, the new LP 'The Changeling'
had been released and I felt sorely disappointed.
From the bubbling, almost evangelical enthusiasm
with which Toyah had described the songs on it,
I'd been expecting a vital, awesome masterpiece,
but it's not. It's just another Toyah album.
Quite good overall, brilliant in isolated songs,
but also embarrassingly coy in parts too.
Liverpool show was also something of a
disappointment as Toyah and guitarist/songwriter
Joel are quick to point out.
show's different every night," exclaims
Toyah, "and you saw a more theatrical show
tonight, because there was no way I was going
anywhere near the bloody pit!" she laughs,
referring to a huge orchestra pit at the front of
the stage which all too effectively created a
gaping chasm between the band and audience.
the only way I could convey anything was through
those mime-like movements, but you should have
been at Newcastle, that was
show changes from venue to venue," adds
Joel, "It has to, otherwise everyone would
get bored - we want to keep it fresh", he
concludes eyeing me with suspicion, trying to
work out what my angle is. It's only afterwards
that I discover that he'd looked in my note book
in which I'd scrawled observations like "her
band aren't good enough for Toyah" and
"audience's blind adoration".
Joel and I spar for a while, sizing each other
up, certainly wary, possibly distrustful, but
both preferring to let Toyah dominate the
don't normally do interviews, Joel, why
me? Don't like doing them."
one frightens you." laughs Toyah.
I don't like doing interviews...normally. I've
always wanted to keep in the background - what I
enjoy doing is playing, recording and writing
there any ego clash?
you're not jealous of Toyah?
never ever - If I was jealous of Toyah, we
wouldn't have stayed together for so long, for
five years now. That's not in my nature atall. As
far as I'm concerned we're both part of the same
anyway," interrupts Toyah, "I've
noticed on this tour that we when we introduce
the individual members of the band, they've all
got their own fans, which is great! In
Manchester, Joel seems to get all the girls
screaming at him."
at the same time, it's only you on the record
there's a conscious change about to happen there!
We've just gone through a year with a management
which exploited that, they wanted me to be the
front person - and that's why the individual face
shots started appearing on covers - but we're
forming a solid band."
because we've not had a solid line up" adds
Joel, "It's very difficult to get band
with just my photo on the cover, I take the blame
the whole time from the critics. I'd rather the
whole band got the blame!" she says
screaming with laughter at both Joel and I,
despite her hoarse voice caused by a recent bout
of laryngitis, which had prevented me from being
allowed to observe the band "on the
road", thus making me wonder if they had
something to hide.
all her irresistible personality - I really do
like her - Toyah certainly has something to hide.
For instance, there are no love songs!
New World'", hisses Toyah
that's only a love song in an abstract sense, I
but I'm a pervert! I don't know, you cute little
thing!" she teases. "But I look on
'Danced' as being a love song."
you want out and out love songs, go and see Roxy
Music," advises Joel sarcastically.
to me, a love song would be really raunchy, raw
and really filthy" Toyah clarifies.
you don't do any!
be too embarrassed, but 'Brave New World', to me,
is a sad love song, because I wrote most of it in
Bristol last year after a tremendous row with my
boyfriend. But I could never do a love song true
to myself, because that's being selfish. I prefer
what I call open lyrics, so that the kids can fit
their own feelings to them.
so 'Brave New World' is a love song, because I
think everyone goes through the phase when they
think no one in the world knows how hurt they are
- experiencing a loneliness that no one knows,
but everyone knows it!"
I can follow this up, Joel advises me that Toyah
"really should rest her voice", so we
agree to adjourn until a few weeks later, after
I've seen the band play a much more exciting,
exacting show at Hammersmith Odeon... I'm getting
to like Toyah's music too!
we all meet up again at the office of Toyah's
publicist, Judy Totton, who stresses that her
star can spare only half an hour, causing said
star to react in amazement, locking the door so
we can't be interrupted and telling me to take as
long as I want.
let's talk about love songs again...
I don't understand what a love song is." she
wails "A song I love singing is a love song
isn't a love song a song about love?
I'd say that I think all our songs have passion
in them, and passion is love. But I could never
imagine singing about something that I call
think love is soppy?
but I can't stand watching people kissing in
films, it's like invading someone's privacy - and
when I feel the same, I just don't want to hear
it, I don't need that. I've got a very strong
relationship with a man that I live with and so I
don't feel I need to listen to that sort of
thing. And to write a love song, that would be
weird, I can't imagine doing it. I've never felt
the need to write one!"
that partly so that you can keep your private and
public lives apart?
helps, yeah. I just don't think I have those
conventional sort of feelings, so I find it very
hard to write a conventional love song because it
would be like a virgin writing about sex! And I'm
not saying I'm a virgin, but I just don't have
those conventional feelings.
tried to write a conventional love song and it
just comes out the biggest load of crap you've
ever laughed at. It was just boring pap, with no
natural adrenalin in the lyrics."
a shame that this lack of "love" in
Toyah might only reinforce the cynical view of
the frigid child-woman who still speaks with a
(childish) lisp, can't have an orgasm and sings
twee musical ditties.
fact, not only is Toyah's lisp barely noticeable,
but I feel she has the talent and vision to
become a hugely successful and respected artist
if only she wouldn't let her romantic idealism
and dreams of druids, devils and angels get in
the way. But for a moment, I'll indulge her
fantasies and allow her to metamorphose into
anyone/thing she wants. What's your choice?
Bowie's pillow! No I dunno...it seems so sad to
wish you were someone else, so I always try to
hide those sort of feelings anyway. I'd like to
have Bo Derek's body with someone else's brain -
maybe David Bowie."
odd that you should mention Bowie, because I've
come to believe - through talking to you, and
listening to your music - that you could be as
effectively brilliant as him, if only...
I'd never dream of trying to be like Bowie,
because he's the greatest, do you know what I
mean? I don't want a comparison like that, that
would frighten me...because there was one female
singer who was trying to be the female
Bowie" (although she doesn't name her, I'd
guess she means Hazel O'Connor), "and she
failed miserably - and she's a very talented
young lady. But I think trying to be someone
who's gone before is so dangerous."
didn't mean as a replica, but on that level! You
see, when you tell me how brilliant your music
is, I believe you. I'm convinced by your
enthusiasm, but when I go away and listen to
don't hear what I talk about," she concludes
in anticipation and resignation.
maybe I ruin the record for you by giving you my
own interpretation when the whole point of our
music is for people to make their own
but I'm not convinced. In my defence I summon the
first minute of a song called "Angel And
Me" on the new album, which to an
accompaniment of just a melancholy piano and a
hint of synth, Toyah sings some of the best, most
personal lines I've heard all year:
do you always cry when you come to see me?
always die to see you smile."
the mood of reflective sadness is broken as soon
as the band enter the song and turn it into just
another celebratory Toyah romp, all too flash and
superficial for me. I wonder who the song is
my personal life you mean? The person she's
talking to is her mum, when I was in hospital and
my mum visited me, she'd always start crying, so
it comes from that."
you close to your mother?
am now, I didn't use to be. I always loved her
very much, but she had a weird way of loving me
back. I can never remember kissing and cuddling
mummy and daddy when I was small. But I love them
both, my father is one of my heroes."
that stage, there's a banging on the locked door
and a muffled voice announces that my time's up
again. One day I'm determined to spend hours with
Toyah just trying to find what motivates her, to
see how I can get past her preoccupation with her
land of make believe that seems to cast her as
Cinderella when I want her to be Lady
to admit "We're still learning about
production and techniques" and that
"maybe we should have worked the new songs
in on tour before recording them, so that 'The
Changeling' would have a more natural flow."
Toyah grabs Joel by the arm and skips off down
the corridor, gleefully mocking the whole world
and herself with a camp, cruel parody chorus of
"It'th a mith-ta-wee, it'th a
14 August 1982