INTERVIEW: Rosanna Rothery chats to Toyah Willcox ahead of Hormonal Housewives
HORMONES can wreak havoc with your life. Just ask Toyah Willcox. The singer and actor visits Barnstaple next week with the hilarious show, Hormonal Housewives.
Throughout her thirties, the former punk icon was plagued with severe PMS.
"I have not one positive thing to say about PMS," she says with feeling. "It was a complete waste of my youth. I can't look back and say, 'ooh I was wonderfully creative during that period'. I wasn't. I was frustrated. I was emotional. Probably not the best person to be near."
For Toyah the intense monthly madness could only be described as "sheer hell".
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"I used to have it for two weeks of every month. Not any more. I'm well into menopause now. But it's the time you are going to crash your car or reverse it in to a pillar. It's a time when you are going to wear your clothes inside out. You make your biggest mistakes during that time."
Despite the name, rest assured, Hormonal Housewives won't be a po-faced play about the misery of periods. Rather, it's a hysterical sketch show that celebrates modern womanhood.
"It's absolutely wonderful," she says. "It's great fun. The audience just totally get it. It's all about joy, fun and naughtiness. A real antidote to the winter blues."
Toyah and her co-stars Julie Combe and Sarah Jane-Buckley each play six characters, as well as themselves. It's a celebration of women and the things that are important to women.
"It's the things that aren't always taken terribly seriously like dress sizes, childbirth, competition at the school gates and wanting to find a man when you are in your seventies," she laughs.
Toyah, who is 55 this year, has sustained a prolific career. We're talking 13 Top 40 singles, 20 albums, two books, 40 stage plays and ten films. Not to mention presenting such diverse TV shows as The Good Sex Guide Late and Songs Of Praise.
Her energy and zest for new projects might partly be put down to a super healthy lifestyle.
"I am mainly vegetarian. I don't drink. I have a policy of settling in very early. I don't burn the candles at both ends."
She has some pretty wise words to say about stress management too.
"I am religious about preparing before the show. The only way I can put it simply into words is that I don't allow something to come in to my life that stresses me. Therefore, I am always ready for the show. I always have my preparation time. I always have my down time. I think if you allow yourself to get in situations where you are stupidly stressed, you are going to get ill."
The performer, who has done everything from bursting on to our TV sets as a minxy punk in the Eighties to providing the intro voice for the Teletubbies, doesn't particularly see herself as a role model for other women.
"I think for alternative medicines, yes. I am very in to my acupuncture and diet as a form of healing. The body is such a miraculous machine that really food, rest and natural therapies should cure it of most non-critical ills. I have acupuncture every week and I am very strict about my diet. I only ever drink water and green tea. Nothing else."
Her own role models include Judy Dench for her "strange eclecticism", Helen Mirren, Madonna and Cher.
"These are wonderful women who have worked through thick and thin. They have kept going and re-invented themselves. I think reinvention is so important. Who wants to only work when they are 20 and be invisible when they are 30? It doesn't make sense. I want to keep working. I love seeing older women who have a wonderful, creative life."
Despite getting over a heavy virus that has affected her ligaments, the singer will be touring with her band The Humans this year. She is also loving being in Hormonal Housewives.
"It's an absolutely delightful irreverent show about women and men love it too. Last night we had men on the front row howling. It's very rude. It's not feminism and it's not political. It's pure joy about being a woman."
Hormonal Housewives is at the Queen's Theatre, Barnstaple on Tuesday, March 26. 7.45pm. Tickets: £22. Box office: 01271 324242.