The rebel rocker who would have been equal
to James Cagney.
If you should see, late at night, a small girl
all alone and with very strong legs passing slowly and dreamily by the
Serpentine, staring soulfully at the black swans, ten to one it will be
the ex-Queen of Punk, Toyah Willcox.
And if you see a girl with snapping green eyes
and a tarzan mane of flame hair bundling out of her flat window instead
of using the front door, that will also be our Toyah.
She communes with the black swans as a way of
relaxing and she leaves by the window because she says she's a wayward
girl anyway and just plain doesn't like using doors.
These revelations by the midget giant of pop were
made to me backstage at the Vaudeville Theatre in the Strand where Toyah
is appearing in the comedy play Three Men On A Horse.
She was clad in a simple, long black dress, pixie
boots and with green heavy stone earrings bobbing and clanking among the
famous clumps of orange-gold hair.
Friend of the Royals, darling of the all-powerful
Punk Generation, Toyah has one graceful foot planted firmly in the street
and the other nestling coyly among the tiaras and pearls.
During the rehearsal Toyah stripped off to her
undies and displayed her excellent, sturdy weight-lifter's body and pit-pony
legs - very sexy.
"I do a lot of weight-lifting and I walk in a
very masculine way, so for this part I had to learn how to walk differently."
She brandished a diary the size of a large brick
and says she puts down in there every little thing that happens in her
"One day I hope to write a book to tell women
who come into the music business how to survive. No, it won't be shock,
scandal, horror, and more shock."
You'd think Toyah came up ready-made, hewn out
and want, but no: she's a public schoolgirl from
"When I was a kid they used to say I'd never be
anybody because I was too individual.
"That irritated the shit outta me, so when the
came along I merged with it. Handy."
About her friendship with Di and Prince
Edward she says: "I support the Royals. They do good work and I do whatever
they ask me.
"But," she adds, flicking the mane, "I am NOT
a royal groupie."
She denies she's ever had a booze problem but
she likes a gin and tonic now and then.
"I like drinking. Some people play golf, some
people play cricket, I like to go home, put the stereo on loud and have
"I walk home all alone at night, look at the black
swans on the Serpentine, then lie awake all night till dawn.
"Then I go to the gym and pump iron."
She's 29 and her rock musician husband is 40,
a kind of reversal of the current vogue for toy-boys. She once said she
would choose younger men for their bodies and older men for their minds.
"I don't think age has anything to do with it.
I think men, young and old are fabulous."
She's passionately concerned about getting a new
deal for the unemployed youth of Britain and helps at a centre where the
kids are allowed to let their creativity take over.
If she'd been a man she'd have been a James Cagney,
this Toyah - cocky, vulnerable, tough, sensitive.
"I don't want children in my life.
"I don't know who or what I am yet, so I don't
think I should have children if I feel like that."
In the dim light of the star dressing room, those
hot green eyes are partly hidden by the hair, but even so the passion and
quick feelings snap and pop, the eyes of a woman who knows exactly who
and what she is despite what she says.
"I just have this strong feeling that I'm on the
run all the time, as though I'm lost and don't belong anywhere. After doing
a show at night, I've still got all this energy left, as though I haven't
She stands up to shake my hand and say goodbye
and you expect a much bigger woman, but she's not - she's minute and
urgent and vital. That's Toyah.
Daily Mail, 1987