Kim Wilde: blonde against prejudice

The 21 year old KIM WILDE is winning over the HEARTS of tenthousand young people. Her photographs hang in the bedrooms of numerous boys and the many letters with MARRIAGE PROPOSALS ARE COUNTLESS (!). What is her SECRET? ‘My parents have helped me enormously. Without them I’d have been nowhere!’ (From ‘Weekend’, 19-6-1982) Kim Wilde is surrounded by men when she walks into her hotel in Brussels, no fans but a band that is collected together for TV performances. One of her boys is the British Corsican Henry Padovani, the man who was thrown out of The Police, just before that band became superstars. The perfect contrast: you have losers and winners in this sort of Monopoly (!), and it’s small things that make the difference sometimes. The nerves of Padovani when the Police went into the studio for the first time, for example, and the fact that Kim Wilde’s brother Ricky had no-one to take care of backing vocals on his demos. (From the Flemish RTV-magazine Humo, 15-4-1982)

The tape recorded is put on, the interviewer asks her loads of questions and decency dictates that Kim answers the questions, and before you know it you have a conversation that sounds a lot like an interview. Because, let’s be honest, Kim meets all the criteria leading to such an act. She attracts attention by delivering records that stick out from the level that is usual with teenage idols, she sings well, plays on the imagination with her somewhat innocent sensuality and works with men like father Marty and brother Ricky Wilde as a team that produces hits like battery cages produce eggs.

But how do you see the phenomenon Kim Wilde? Like a marionette in the hands of shrewd businessmen who got a winning lottery ticket? Like a fairy princess for sixteen-year-old adolescents? Or like an up and coming vocalist who will find her own identity and doesn’t want to be treated like a dumb blonde?


‘I think it’s got to do with the fact that most tabloids get higher sales figures when they publish stories in which sex is mentioned sideways, even if it’s just a subtle hint. It’s unfortunately a symptom of our society. Take The Sun, they have a naked girl on page three every single day. Other media, the more serious newspapers and magazines are more interested in the person behind the artist. It’s not about me’, says Kim Wilde. ‘I try to avoid stupid things in a conversation, answer the questions to my own capabilities and try to communicate with the person I’m talking with.’

There she sits, the dream of many teenagers and usually their fathers too. A serious, but blushing girl, coughing because the first concert tour she is undertaking is an assault on her vocal chords. I like her, but not very attractive, she does not awaken the imagination of the that Dutch journalist who described how he whispered her name after he had a conversation with her.

Kim: ‘I think most people have readymade ideas of others. I am blonde, awaken sexual feelings with people, I’m a woman. I have a father who writes my lyrics and a brother who produces my records, a mother who takes care of the business side of things, I work at RAK records with star producer Mickey Most. All these people who focus on me, have the recipe for an article. It’s a bit disappointing, to put it mildly. I don’t expect that many people can get away from that. The prejudice is so easy. And I can’t blame them either. I catch myself doing that. And I put my fist on the table when it happens. People tend to generalise things, to know everything. The sad thing is everyone does it. When I read this garbage, I don’t get too excited. If I would, I would have to concede there’s a grain of truth in it’, she says while she is caressing her body with her hands.

The blonde hair evokes associations easily, I say. She is painted as the desirable woman on the one hand and as the girl who doesn’t want to be the dumb blonde on the other hand. Isn’t it both humiliating? She giggles. ‘Unfortunately blonde hair has a bad reputation. Jean Harlow also had blonde hair, didn’t she? I didn’t think she was retarded. Marilyn Monroe? A lot of people think blondes are dumb, but it’s a male notion. I think if you would ask women what they admire in Monroe, you would get a variety of reasons. For many men she’s just the seductive, blonde vamp. Who looks dumb enough to let herself be overpowered. It’s about the person under that blonde hair, isn’t it? I think I would have less problems with it if I didn’t have blonde hair. It would be easier. But I’m the type who likes to have obstacles in the way, even if it’s just to prove there are no real obstacles in life. I have my hair like this for three, four years. I dye it. I could easily choose a different colour, couldn’t I? But why? I like it this way. I saw my father (Marty Wilde was a wellknown English rocker for years, ed.) as an obstacle for my own development. But it’s proved to be a wrong perception.

We talk about the work for some time, about her wish to not get the air she has ‘already seen it all’, about her role models Dusty Springfield and Elvis Presley. I can’t resist asking her whether she feels isolated from normal life, in the protected circle of dad, brother and mother. ‘I hate being protected. My parents can work with me because I have experienced more things than you are prepared to believe right now. I had a bodyguard appointed to me for this tour. He got orders to watch me from beginning to end. I got crazy and told him to get lost as soon as the concert was over. Of course there are risk, but I prefer to experience everything.’

We walk to the soundcheck after our talk to see whether the sound is good. On the way she asks me, as if to prove she knows about life, whether Dutch cafes sell whole bottles. ‘I need a good bottle of whisky on the road’. That stage name Wilde may be well chosen after all.