60 Second Interview

Birmingham-born singer, actress and TV presenter Toyah Willcox, 43, first came to fame as the punk movement's 'short girl with a lisp' in the late 1970's. Star of films Quadrophenia and Jubilee, she had hits with songs including It's A Mystery and I Want To Be Free, and has since fronted TV shows from The Good Sex Guide Late to The Heaven And Earth Show. She is married to fellow musician Robert Fripp. 

What's your favourite job?
Making movies, because I like the whole event. It's like you're in a circus and you're on the move. 

Does that stem from making music videos?
It was before that, when I worked with Derek Jarman in Jubilee. Then I went on to do George Cukor's TV film The Corn Is Green - with Katherine Hepburn - and I fell in love with the complete focus you have when you're working on a film. Nothing else exists and I find that rather lovely. 

How influenced were you by youth culture in your choice of career? 
Hugely. When you're young, youth culture is all that exists - you don't think about anything else. The punk movement influenced me, the mod not so much as I was too much into punk. The films at the time like Scum, Quadrophenia, Breaking Glass...they were all youth culture films and we all wanted to be in them. 

Was Hazel Oconnor (star of Breaking Glass) a rival?
Back then, I considered her a rival, but we're more like friends now. We moved in completely different directions. The press would play us off against each other but that was not just between me and Hazel, it was also between me and Paula Yates and virtually every female on the planet. We were all enemies. I think we've all smartened up now and don't fall for those tricks. 

Do you look at your old videos and cringe?
No, I don't cringe at anything I've ever done. I'm proud of everything. 

Do you still listen to your old punk albums?
No, I haven't got the time any more. 

If you recorded a song today, what would it be like?
I kind of like electro/techno/pop at the moment. Kylie has hit the bullseye with her latest song. It's very 'of the moment'. 

What's on your CD player?
PJ Harvey's Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea, and Music by Madonna. 

What's your health routine? 
I insist on eight hours sleep a night, I don't drink alcohol, tea or coffee. I'm a 
vegetarian so I always eat fruit and veg and I do about an hour's aerobic exercise a day. 

How spiritual are you? 
Not as much as I used to be. I used to be so much more but I found I've become more and more distracted by work. That's what keeps me going - I just enjoy my work. I've never wanted a family in my life. A lot of people put family as a priority but I don't, which means I have an awful lot of time on my hands to work in. 

Who's been your biggest influence? 
I still carry a real torch for David Bowie's work. I also like Steven Spielberg's work, even though he can really miss the mark sometimes. When he gets it right though, you never forget what he's done. 

What did you think of AI? 
I loved the last half hour, I thought it was sensational, but would have liked him to edit the first hour and a half down. 

And have you met Bowie? 
No - my husband has done some work with him but I have yet to meet him myself. 

What's your biggest vice?

What's your best quality?
I haven't got a clue - perseverance, possibly. 

What's been your most embarrassing moment?
I often lose my temper with people because I take the wrong meaning from something. People call me the rottweiler - there have been times where I actually put my fists up to someone when they haven't done what I thought they'd done. I'm immensely embarrassed by that. 

Do you apologise after?
Yes (laughs) - but it's often too late. 

What's your motto? 
Don't dream it, be it. It's from the Rocky Horror Show. 

What would your epitaph be?
She came, she lisped, she left. 

4th November 2001
Thanks to Tiff Davidson