Toyah Willcox: ‘My mother always wanted me altered in some way. I was never right’

Toyah Willcox: ‘My mother always wanted me altered in some way. I was never right’

February 4, 2021

The singer and actor has had a productive pandemic – and gone viral from her kitchen. She talks about escaping her childhood, sexual harassment and persuading her rock star husband to dress in a tutu

Of all the celebrity offerings that have come out of the pandemic, the gloriously weird videos made by Toyah Willcox and her husband, Robert Fripp, are surely the most compelling. It is possible, within each short clip, to cycle through every feeling from wanting to cover your eyes while being unable to look away, to the dawning realisation you may be watching a profound piece of performance art. Mostly, it is impossible not to laugh. There they are in their cosy Worcestershire kitchen, perhaps with the dishwasher open in the background, with Willcox, accessorised with mouse ears, tap-dancing, bouncing off the Aga. Both dressed in black tutus at the end of their garden, the pair dance across the screen to music from Swan Lake. Fripp lies on the floor of the hallway, while Willcox – dressed in red PVC and devil horns – performs the Kinks’ You Really Got Me on the stairs. It’s joyous.

Willcox has been uploading their Sunday Lockdown Lunch videos since April last year; they also do a weekly agony aunt session, and Willcox does her own Q&A, talking about her life and long career as an actor, pop star and general cultural fixture for the past 40 years. It started, she says, as a way to occupy Fripp, the musician and founder of the prog rock band King Crimson. “Here I am in this house with this 74-year-old husband who I really don’t want to live without,” she says. “He was withdrawing, so I thought: ‘I’m going to teach him to dance.’ And it became a challenge.” They posted a video, and it took off. “It was: ‘Wow, I’ve never experienced the power of that connection.’”

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