Date: 13 September 1981
Originally published in: Sunday Magazine (UK)
Written by: Nina Myskow
Kim Wilde started off the year being known as Marty Wilde’s daughter. Then, because of her stunning blonde, tousled looks, she was hailed as the new Debbie Harry. Now, with three huge hit singles and a smash first album, she can stand up proudly as herself. Here she talks to Nina Myskow.
I can remember feeling very plain indeed when I was about 15. And I was. I had very pretty schoolfriends who made me feel fairly second-rate. I was a country bumpkin, hadn’t a clue about make-up, and was into just jeans and tee-shirts. They wore things like pencil skirts, just right.
It wasn’t until they left school and I wasn’t oppressed or influenced by them that I came out of myself. Not that I’m saying I’m a beauty by any means, but whatever was, and is, me gradually began to emerge.
I started to feel better, got myself together in my own way and haven’t looked back since. I haven’t got a great cleavage. Anyway I prefer things that button up to the neck or I feel cheap and nasty. I think the sexual side of women is the most powerful force on earth. It comes through in different ways. Some look sexiest when they are totally naked. Or wearing kinky clothes. With me I think it’s my face and particularly my eyes. Whatever I feel, it shows in my eyes.
I do like to make myself as interesting as possible. Women naturally use their different characteristics – slyness, innocence, cunning, whatever. I try to make that come through my eyes. Someone else might tell you the same thing about their eyes. But they’d mean something totally different. Like a really overdone, corny come-on.
I think that’s cheap and tacky and doesn’t fool anyone. It’s certainly not me.
When I started off in the pop world photographers used to tell me that they’d get clothes for me to wear, but they’d be so revolting I’d end up wearing whatever scruffy thing I’d turned up in instead. But this Sunday Magazine photographic session was wonderful. I really enjoyed it. We went down to Kensington Market and got all these lovely clothes. I haven’t been down there since the old hippy days and it’s really changed. It’s such bliss being wafted there in a taxi and allowed to choose what you like. I liked so many of the outfits that I’ve asked to keep some of them.
That’s really the only chance I get to buy clothes these days. I don’t really like going shopping on my own much now. It used to be easier before people started recognising me. For personal appearances – 15 in three days – I take jeans and trousers and masses of tops. I am collecting more clothes now. I have to look good when it’s a personal appearance in say, a record shop, and I’ve got to sign albums at close quarters. The only skirt I possess is a black leather mini. It comes out once in a blue moon when I’m in the mood. I go through phases like everyone else and I haven’t worn it for ages. It’s a bit cliched I suppose but I’m keeping it. One day it’ll be nice instead of tacky.
Last May I was invited by an old friend of mine, Graham, to a May Ball at Oxford. I quite fancied all the old champagne and strawberries bit, just couldn’t resist it. So I had to make the effort to dress up. I quite enjoy getting glammed up sometimes. There’s something nice about spending three hours getting ready.
Aged ago I’d bought a long black lace skirt at the Oxfam shop in St Albans and always intended to do something with it. Chop it up and make a blouse or something. I hadn’t actually hacked at it because I got a bit scared. I’m a bit useless with my hands, and I thought the lace might fray if I started to cut it. In desperation I tried it on once more. It felt beautifully from the waist. I bent down, picked up two corners of them, crossed them over once and tied them over the back of my neck. Lo and behold I had this fantastic dress.
Backless, with masses of ruffles in the skirt. A perfect balldress. I tied a black chiffon scarf around my waist and that was it. Apart from being a bit careful to watch what the sides of the top were doing I had a wonderful time.
I’m as free as a bird these days. I really am. I like a good flirt because flirting makes the time go round. But nothing scandalous. I quite like Adam Ant but we’ve never even met. I have a super relationship with my parents and still live at home in Hertfordshire, along with 19-year-old brother Ricky, my small sister Roxanne, two, (named after the Police single) and five-month-old Marty.
In the last couple of months I’ve felt awful, because I’ve hardly seen the family. I haven’t really played with Roxanne for weeks.
The other weekend I saw her dragging a big cut out cardboard display figure of me – like they have in record shops – around behind her and talking to it, ‘Kimmie, Kimmie’… it just broke my heart.
I can’t even think in terms of freedom at home, because nowadays I don’t have freedom as such, full stop. My days are booked and I’m working hard. I’m not complaining about that. It’s what I want to do.
Some people have said that because the family is so much involved – my father and brother both write for me – that I’m sort of manufactured product. I’m certainly not manipulated. I’m orchestrated, if anything. I take the advice and help of all the experts around me – like Mickie Most for instance. I let them help me plan things. I’m certainly not intending to move away from home on my own, yet. My mother has one or two little worries about me, I think. But mostly I think she thinks I’m handling it all OK. But she doesn’t have to worry about me. Usually I go home to my own bed at night. And if I’m stuck somewhere, I always phone up and let her know. As long as she’s not lying there worrying that I’m lying dead in a ditch somewhere, she’s happy.
Life is good at the moment – really wonderful. It’s what I’ve always wanted. I’m working hard and I’m having a good time too. I believe in burning the candle at both ends. For instance last night I went out and got blitzed. I looked in the mirror today and thought, ‘Oh dear’.
So I slapped on a face pack this morning which at least makes my skin feel softer. But I still feel ghastly. I did warn you – you’re not really seeing me at my best today.