SPOTLIGHT ON

Q. What was your favourite TV show when you were younger?

A. The Munsters (An American comic-horror series).

Q. Is it true you had alcoholic poisoning at the age of eight?

A. I blame that on my brother and sister who have a very warped sense of humour. We were in Majorca at a barbecue where there was this very nice red liquid to drink - which was sangria, quite a deadly thing - and they kept filling my glass up. I was slowly sinking under the table. I remember desperately wanting to go to the toilet, but I couldn't move. I was ill for about a week after that. They reckoned I'd had six bottles of sangria. the pain in my stomach I'll never forget.

Q. Did you train with John Currie and want to be a skater like him?

A. I didn't train with John Currie. We had the same trainer at Solihull ice rink. I started when I was nine and I became very serious about it. I'd go in the mornings before school and then again in the evenings - up to six hours a day. Then when I saw Currie winning the Olympics I thought 'God, I know that man'. I had a mad crush on him when he was younger, he was so beautiful.

When I was 12 I had an operation to straighten my toes and it meant I couldn't skate again because I couldn't put my foot in a tight boot. I wasn't professionally minded though and I didn't mind giving it up.

Q. Did you ever predict to your schoolmates that you would be a star at such a young age? If so what was their reaction?

A. I didn't so much predict as tell them the most abominable lies. I remember once  I had the whole school thinking I'd be leaving at the end of the week because I'd just been cast in a new musical with Julie Andrews. I'd get bored and invent these stories and believe them myself sometimes.! End of the week I got a load of presents off my friends and then on Monday there I was again saying I'd decided not to do it after all.

Q. What's it like being small and a star?

A. The only time I dislike being small is when I see lovely women with great long legs and  I think 'Oh wow I wish I was like that'. And when your fans meet you and go ' Oooh, aren't you little!' as if it's something dreadful. otherwise I don't think about it, though it's true I am verging on the very small - four foot eleven.

Q. If people say unkind things about your appearance what are your reactions?

A. If the press say it I won't read it because it'll put me in a bad mood for the rest of the day. But when people in the street laugh at the way I look I just stick my nose up in the air and walk on as though I'm better than them - which annoys them. It's much better than turning round and swearing and looking hurt.

Q. If you were offered money to pose nude in a man's magazine what would you do?

A. No. I'd get a stand-in to do it with my wig on. I just haven't got the physique to pull it off. Not only that, it's just not me. I'm too modest.

Q. How much do you earn a month and do you spend it mostly on clothes?

A. I don't get money the way most people do. I get a basic wage, which is fifty quid cash per week, then if  I need clothes for costumes or photo sessions I ring up the record company and say 'Please can I have some money' - but that has to be paid back through record sales.

Q. On average how much does one of Melissa Caplan's outfits cost you?

A. The same as anything else in the shop. They're always under a hundred quid which for nowadays is very good.

Q. Is it true that most of your lyrics were inspired by dreams and nightmares?

A. Yes, but also horror films and books of horror stories and science fiction. That's the main thing, the fear of death.

Q. Are you business minded?

A. To survive you've got to be business minded. I'm business minded only in the fact that I don't trust a soul, not even my manager and he knows it. Before I do anything I check it out myself and I won't sign for something unless I approve of it. But the reason I'm like that is to survive, having been ripped off early in my career. Rather than lean on anyone with my trust I just do everything myself.

Q. Do you have a strong personal life?

A. I've never had a personal life. I'm just discovering what the word 'boyfriend' means because I spent 20 years of my life totally alone, totally tomboyish, going to wild parties and being known for being totally aggressive. I've always been too weird for people to associate with.

Then success comes and everyone understands you. But I'm happiest when I'm alone because then I can be as extreme as I like without frightening anybody.

Q. Where does your name come from?

A. My parents deny any knowledge of where they got the name from, but there is a town in Texas called Toyah. In Red Indian language it means 'water'. Also the neighbouring town there is called Wilcox, so that must be where my mum got it from - it was definitely her who named me.

Q. What was your school nickname?

A. I had a lot. When I was ten it was 'Barrel' because I was very fat. Then it became 'Toilet' when I was about 14, not only because it sounds like Toyah but I was always hiding in the toilets during lesson times, having a smoke or something. And then I had a best friend called Trisha and she was very thin and I was very fat and we were known as 'Stick 'N' The Mud' - I was The Mud.

Q. What do your parents think of what you're doing now?

A. My parents are my greatest fans, but when I first said I was going to move to London and become an actress and a singer they tried to discourage it because it's such an insecure profession. Although my dad gave up on telling me what to do when I was about 12 and just said 'Let her get on with it' my mother still nags me about the way I look - only now it's because my hair's yellow and she preferred the red I used to have.

Whereas when I was younger she nagged me about 'destroying' my hair. So the viewpoint's changed completely. Well, bleaching your hair isn't good for it. You have to put the life back in so I overcondition it. It's not something I'd advise kids to try themselves.

Unknown Magazine, 1982