Date: 1 February 1983
Originally published in: Rock & folk (France)
Written by: Laurent Chalumeau
[Translated for Wilde Life by Karl]
What a poor little rich girl, sick & tired, condemned by success to the hard labour of promotion – T.V., radios, photos, papers, T.V. again… Why would Kim Wilde smile?
ON THE WILDE SIDE
That was the idea at the start: Kim Wilde would go to Paris for one day, she’d arrive in the morning, would leave in the evening, and in the meantime she’d sing in 2 tv broadcasts & pose for 3 press photographers, so… “sorry soldier, not enough time for an interview!”
“Even with a list of questions I’d scribble quickly?”
“No sorry,even with a list of questions you’d scribble quickly”. Never mind! If there’s no interview, I’d better change my ‘Kalachnikov’ plans, grrr…
If it’s impossible to ‘grill’ the lil’ popstar in her hotel room for more than 30 minutes, with a bare-breasted slave bringing Moët champagne & crab jelly during 2 tricky questions, I’d even turn things round, as a Soul Rebel, to let me have the advantage, which would mean:
Spend the whole day with the kid, following her like a dog, on T.V., on the radio, to the point I’d even pose with her, carrying along, spying on, tracking her down, her ‘so what!’, her ‘yuk’, her ‘pfff’… even the smallest thing – the reader will know EVERYTHING – catching Kim in the act of putting a finger in her nose, catching something emanating from her hair, her heavy heart in front of Sabatier (T.V. presenter), hunting her like a remorse, listening to her like a priest, sketching her like a painter.
But more – oh more – be there in front of her like a prick just to see what would happen, doing something, well being uncouth, indiscrete & then polite to sort things out, proving she’s nice (but a mug), or smart (but so rude), feeling the need to fuck her, then tell her and be slapped while Mr What’s-his-name would take a photo, feeling the need to hold her tight, even tighter in my arms, feeling the need to snatch her from the clutches of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s horrible and fatal fate, falling in love immediately, like madly in love, never saying it & already suffering from it, laughing about it, saying “hi-come on – I’ll read you bloody poems – and you’ll sing just for me in our humble home”. Too bad for me, bye bye, asking her a whip, touching her… ooops here comes the inevitable SLAP I deserved, now I’m falling down on my knees.
“Oh Kim, Kim darlin’ I’m mad, mad about you, about your intelligence”. Intelligence? Whooooo aaaare yooouuu, kiddin’? How could i believe you, eh? With the ass i have & the lolly I earn! What is it now?” then sadly: “It’s true… I forgot. “Sigh, tossing up… tails my suicide, heads I’ll… eat my hamburger! OK ok never mind, forget it, hmm what was i saying to you by the way? Oh yeh, I was asking whether you like life on tour?”
DRIVE ME WILDE
The matter’s that their damned O.R.T.F. (French Television studios) was installed in the 16th district of Paris long ago… and they never asked my opinion! So it’s far away from my home. So i was supposed to wake up early to be on time that way, (10.30am come ooooon), so it’ll be 11.25am in a minute & i’m just arriving! The curly haired guy from the record company is checking on his watch. “Missed her once again, maybe next time!” “Hey oh don’t tell me that the T.V. technicians have already finished with their 11 o’clock pause?!” “Well you’d better go & see if she’s in the dressing rooms,she won’t perform before 12.15am, you have time!”
Oh what a stupid bloody morn’! And what a bloody hard wake up! OK i will be polite, I will say good morning to the lady & I’ll blow my nose. I’ve nothing to ask her, except of course where the John’s… kind of:”Does she wear something or not under her very tight dress?” So really nothing to ask,because 0+0 = ..0 of course. So knock knock! Then a lovely ‘come in’ & there she is, a little chubby, really tired, even more weary & I haven’t even begun! She has a cold, a running nose, her snout is creasing & she’s sniffling every 15 minutes. And under the make up, she looks colourless. Seems like the kid’s not that good. She’s sitting in front of that big mirror, with all those painting pots and those Perlimcolor powder boxes, and that beauty stuff in front of her. She already spread more than enough of each pot all over her face. There’s so much make up, we would almost eat some! She’s itching to put a little more again, but she doesn’t know where, she doesn’t know what to use. She looks like she’s bored, she’s in the soup because she hesitates. And this is the moment when i come in.
TELL ME WILDE
“Hmm ..i don’t bother you?”
“At the momooont it’s oky” (Kim’s having a cold,she’s actually talking through her nose,remember)
“Hmm i beg your pardon?”
“i shaid at the momont it’s oky, you bon’t bother me boo much”
“Wow you have such a cold!”
“Brabo! sniffling,you’re such a shmart guy!”
“Well i try! How long have you been like this?”
“That’s bright! And what about your voice?”
She’s now taking a little bottle of Courvoisier out of her vanity case. She’s guzzling it at one go.
“Well i manage..”
“I can see..”
“You have a tissue?”
“And Alka Setzer,do you have some?”
“Neither..so you have a hangover too?”
“No not beally a hangober but i feel quesy, I ate boo late yesterbay ebening & I had a bad sleep”
“Hey looks like you’re right on form!”
She sniffles & shrugs her shoulders as a sign of helplessness. Then a blonde middle-aged woman comes into the dressing room. Maybe her mother,maybe her aunt, I don’t know. I wouldn’t dare ask and anyway I don’t give a damn! The woman says hello, I stand up, I do the same & sit down again. She puts a box of Kleenex in front of the kid.
She asks “You want coffee?”
The kid sniffles and asks me: “And you sir? Coffee?”
“So coffee for two,please.”
The woman disappears and NOW comes the hard time.
THE WILDE (POOR INNOCENT) GIRL & THE CLUMSY CRITIC
My niger pal calls it the ‘rabbit punch’. Very easy, it consists in stunning the listener by a lot of very quick talks, without any pause, even to take breath, for at least 5 minutes.
Nobody can resist, everybody gives up. AS LONG AS YOU SHUT YOUR BLOODY MOUTH UP! Just a tiny detail… If circumstances force you to do the ‘rabbit punch’ to an english girl, you’d better take the italian accent! That way, you’ll be able to breathe while you will talk, taking advantage of what you’ll hear like “Well-a-yun-no”, “well-ah-mean-a”, or “Let-ma-tell-a-yo” that the Brooklyn wops pronounce thoughtlessly every 3 words.
The ‘rabbit punch’ ala Little Italy also allows a lot of gestures, a really exasperating punctuation that will finish by dazing your listener… but will you really need it?
The main thing’s to manage to put her/him down on her/his knees. You have to make her/him really understand that she/he HAS to pay, sign or only speak, anything as long as it WILL MAKE you shut up. So even if there’s not a chance to let the writing express all the brutality, please believe that the Wilde kid really felt the punch! I briefly even thought i did overdid it. While I was gossiping I could watch her eyes. I could read surprise at first: “Is it ham?”, “Is it bacon?”. Then came the need to call for help. That’s when I knew she was ‘ready’. It was time to conclude.
“So at what time did your plane land,by the way?”
“What time? I don’t rebember..yesterbay night”
“Yes, yesterbay night”
“Oh so you mean you didn’t arrive this morning?”
“Well no…since I arrived yesterbay night”
“Oh ..so I couldn’t do it anyway”
“You couldn’t do what?”
“Well yeh you know, the thing is that “a day with Kim Wilde” has an interest only if there’s time to do it. You understand? It’s just Theater, like you’d arrive in the middle of a play, and 3 acts later you’d take your plane & would go back home. The article is what would happen meanwhile. If you were there the day before, it doesn’t make sense, it’s calculated, there’s one night to let spend. You understand? Even if I had been on time, it couldn’t really have been “A day with…”, only a few hours you see?
“Yes hmm. Maybe”
“Never mind. Let’s improvise! Sigh… You had a good trip?”
“Shall i tell you about it?”
Hey guys,i’ve been torturing her for 5 minutes & now she’s asking me if I WANT HER TO TELL ME ABOUT IT! 5 bloody minutes & now she’s asking if..
“OK I will tell you about it.”
The day before they were about to take a flight from Heathrow around 8pm, just at the last minute. It was too late to check in the bass player’s guitar.Ans as they were about to board, the British Airways’ supervisor refused to consider the Fender as a cabin luggage (because it should be kept under the seat & it was too big). So the little bass player had to leave his guitar at the airport as a B.A. employee promised he’d put it on a later flight, operated by Air France, which would normally take off 1 hour later. Of course the guitarist arrived in Paris Orly while his Fender quietly ‘arrived’ in Paris CDG (Charles De Gaulle’s Airport) 1 hour later.
They went through customs & everything was ok until a Guadeloupian officer refused to let their Jamaican drummer go through, because he should have made a request for a visa.
He didn’t do it so no way… In short the curly haired guy working for the record company had to spend more than 2 hours explaining, threatening and corrupting the officer and… the drummer finally left the Duty Free & was accepted on the french territory.
Was it midnight when they joined the hotel? Did Miss Wilde eat snails from the past year, or did she drink a bit too much? whatever… Anyway she had a very bad night.
It was 8am when they woke her up just as she found sleep! Then she ran to the 102 studio where she was awaited at 10.30am. That’s where she had to rehearse the song she’d perform around 12.30am in the “Atout Coeur” broadcast with Patrick Sabatier.
Then ..here i was!
“Isn’t it a bit too much to go to Paris for just 2 broadcasts and leave?”
“No it’s my job! Anyway i’ll have to be in London tomorrow for a shooting.”
“What about promotion, is it the same? Do you stand it well?”
“Yeh my job!”
“How strange… It’s a question I ask to every girls each time I make an interview.”
“That’s your business! Well promotion ain’t the hardest thing, most of the time the guy who makes the interview isn’t that repulsive. Some even manage to wring you a smile.”
“Really? You can smile? But on every pics you look that sulky!”
She sighs. “Wait..I’m gonna show you”
She basically grabs a bag & begins to rummage in it.
“What you’re up to? Are you looking for a pic where you smile?”
She takes a pocket camera out of it & sticks it on her eye.
“Hey Do you really wanna smile with THAT?”
“It all depends on the kind of bird that will get out of it!* ” [*it actually means that it all depends on your own attitude]
“Forget it,it’s a french expression. It’d be too long to explain.”
She still has the camera sticked on the face.
“So tell me,do you really want to smile with a big dark eye? And i don’t even tell you about flashes and spotlights right on your mug!”
“Ok but you could smile from time to time.”
She grins unpleasantly.
“A bigger smile please!”
I grab the corners of my face and strech them to show her how to do it.
She bursts out laughing and it’s not unpleasant! It fits her very well.
“What a pity I didn’t have a camera hidden under my badges or I’d have got a scoop!”
“And a lot of trouble too!”
WILDE IS SUCH A SACRIFICE
The woman comes back with 2 coffees & sugar. No spoon, we’ll stir with the end of a make up brush. The woman leaves while we can hear a guy playing sax, doing scales. This is due to the musicians who are in the room close to ours.
“If we count everything, how many TV, Radio broadcasts, shooting sessions, rehearsals, EVERYTHING… How many days you work a week?”
“Depends… 12 on average.”
“48 days a month.”
“And you can get over the shock?”
“That would be a shame to complain. There are 2 million people unemployed in Great Britain.”
“Alright,and apart from that?”
“Apart from that, I love to sing. It doesn’t absolulety bother me to start again 10 times a take. What sometimes gets on my nerves is when I have to wait, but I tell myself it’s a part of the job! There’s not a thousand ways to live Rock for a girl. She will either get laid by Mick Jones or Keith Richards, or she will sing songs that will be number one. And being number one, a girl has a little hope to gain a minimum of respect.”
“Exactly. Do you feel like you’re a sex symbol?”
“Well at the moment I wouldn’t say I had the time to realize it. I’m very protected, my father was in the business.He knows the score. I’m very well surrounded and defended.”
“And to be a Rock star,what it feels like? I always wondered”
“Same. I don’t realize it. I just tell myself I’m lucky to live that kind of life so young.”
“How old are you?”
Without any hesitation, “22 years old”
“That’s fair..so you were saying ‘I’m lucky to..’ “
“Yes, the kind of life I live ‘opens a few doors’ or at least, I’m certain it will!”
“Like? Cinema? Theater? Musical?”
“No. Not that stuff. Just things in my head that I will reveal or determine.”
“Hey that’s the first time i hear about that.People usually complain in the world of Rock : they accuse the system to make them go nuts or to chuck their lives all up!”
“Nobody needs Rock to chuck his life up!”
She snaps her fingers & puts on an haughty look, “Isn’t it?”
BORN TO BE WILDE
“So what will you sing at Sabatier’s show? Your last single?”
“Yeh..Child Come Away”
“Before i arrived,i played it 4 times in a row just to wake up. I couldn’t get anything. It all sounds like Burroughs & Sollers telling about their dreams.”
“Forget it. They are 2 windbags. I just meant the lyrics are like a cock-and-bull story!”
“That was the purpose.”
“How great. So you think it’s better when people get nothing?”
“That’s not really the way you have to see things. I think the lyrics are made of a big wealth and a big ambiguity too. Everybody will get what he wants to.”
“Well yeh… Anyway, since “we’re the kids In America wo oh ..you’ve gone a long way!”
“It’s still pop music you know. Anyway you shouldn’t ask me that, you’d rather ask my dad, he’s a great songwriter and his best is yet to come.”
“We really hope.”
We are now waiting out of the field of the cameras, on the left of the stage. She’s shivering and sniffling, shivering again.I take my jacket and put it on her shoulders.
“Hmm a gentleman” she says.
“Rock ‘n’ Roll”, I reply.
Time is passing.
Nicole Calfan* [* a french actress who actually released a song that year] is grimacing, it’s a total miming of her song. The track’s played but it’s like she’s not here at all. The kind of stuff you’d do if you were nr. 199 on a Top 200, just like it was E.T’s Theme… with an accordion!
And her voice sounds like a squealing bike pump. The Wilde Kid & her Boys are cracked up.
I try to explain.
“She’s an actress usually.”
“Is she famous?” the saxophonist asks.
“Pretty famous yeh. But if you really want to know her, it’s the perfect time, she’s basically posed naked in HIM magazine this month.”
The Wilde one glances in my direction and in a bad way.
“If that’s all you have to tell, you’d rather begin your article apart.”
Nicole Calfan’s finished and the ‘lords’ are applauding.
The Wilde one & her gang take their place and then it starts. The Jamaican guy’s caressing a snare drum whereas we can hear synth-drums. The bass player’s got an unplugged Gretsch that the curly haired guy found in a mad rush,it’s actually the one of his friend who usually plays bass for Lavilliers* [* a french singer].
But SHE sings and for real. And in a very good way. The song’s fair but there’s that bridge in the middle. She tilts her head back,moves her hair… and now it’s wild(e). It feels like she still could give more if needed. When she sings she imposes that “respect” she’s keen on.
The curly haired guy comes to have a word with me.
“Pretty good,isn’t it?”
“Yeh, she’s got a lot of puff!”
“And i can tell you people like that here! 1 million 2 hundreds thousand copies for that song. And Cambodia is three times platinum record here! Can you believe it?
“Well if you tell it.”
“And about her 2 albums? Any idea?”
“I don’t know… Gold record?”
“Dub gold record man! Dub gold record EACH! And i receive more than 50 letters a day, it’s more than the Stones!”
“How many letters for the Stones?”
“Oh..20 a week”
“Do you read them?”
“Never. Except the ones which are personally addressed to Keith Richards. And then you’re really cracked up, you realize some are such loonies!”
“Me,i’d like to read the ones which aren’t sent to Johnny Thunders..”
She’s barely finished singing that a horde of kids are rushing at her. They don’t even try to speak in english, ah curs! “Wow hey oh pleaaase wow an autograph hey!” Fortunately, they’re eloquent with those pens they chewed and their copies of “Rock and cartoons”.
Hey you nasty stingy little brats, couldn’t you invest a little money in buying a record? She doesn’t care and signs on the mags. And now the kids are amazing me, they’re kissing her – simple as that! – she is so taken aback by the french impudence she’s under, that she lets the 3 first kids kiss her without any reaction, and without drying herself.
“Hmm the gig hmm at ‘L’Olympia’ hmm you were SUPER hmm”
“Thanks” she says, hoping it’ll be good enough.
Here comes the 4th one,the one who has the most spots on his face,and hair on the chin. We can see she really feels like running away but she resists. She closes her eyes and accepts the ‘tribute’.
The 5th one didn’t have time to catch his breath or prepare his rat chops for the long awaited kiss he thought about since “Chequered Love” that she’s already running away to her dressing room.
WILDE BUNCH 2
She took back her bag.We’re now leaving the ‘Maison de la Radio*’ [*french studios], hall B. And there we’re stumbling over another horde of fans in a different style. They are older (25yo on average), smarter (wearing black leather from head to foot) – that girl can really reconcile everyone – they’re better well-equiped (flashes all around), better well mannered (they don’t try to kiss her). We finally manage to get into the bus.
WILDE IS THE WIND
The mini-bus now goes on the right embankments of the Seine,right to the Porte St Martin’s Theater.She sits in the back with the bass player & the saxophonist who has just put his arm behind her shoulders. What a scoop, what a scoop, is there a romance? The radio plays the beginning of “Serpentine Fire” as i can see the Jamaican guy’s big white smile on my left.
“Hey that’s groovy!”. I tell him about Earth Wind & Fire’s venue that took place at the ‘Garden’ 1 year ago. He tells me about EWF’s venue at the ‘Garden’ 3 years ago.
As we are arriving at La Concorde* [* a famous place in Paris], Kim begins to cough. At Le Pont Neuf (2 miles away), she’s still COUGHING. Don’t forget she’s supposed to babble in a mic in the afternoon! I turn over & hear “Hey somebody do something!”. The saxophonist’s looking at me with a totally useless stupid attitude, just like he’d mean “i could f**k her for sure but don’t know how to help her & stop that cough!”. At Le Châtelet, let’s say half a mile away, she’s still COUGHING. The ‘Horse drawn coach’ stops in front of Le Sarah Bernard* [* the Théatre de la Ville’s small café] where she goes down with the curly haired guy to drink 1 or 2 glasses of whiskey. When she’s back then, with her red coloured cheeks, she doesn’t cough anymore and says “Pfff it’s really the first time i drink so much in the morning!”
We’re now about to leave again just as a black policeman with a white uniform comes to us.
The Jamaican guy’s laughing : “Who’s that cat? The police?”
“Who do you think he can be?” I reply.
“Wait..I’m gonna sort things out” he says.
“Shut up, you don’t even speak french, we’d be in such a bloody mess!”
Then the bass player does the same: “ooh yeh come on mate! Serve that bloke some jamaican jive!”
The other one starts yelling a few ‘hey c’mooon’ to the cop,so that i have to shout louder : “Stop with bullshits,don’t call him ‘brother’,shake hands or.. whatever! He’s not your brother, he’s a bloody cop!”
Now the cop’s sticking his nose against the pane. The drummer’s making faces at him while the guy’s shrugging his shoulders to finally let us move along.
Here we are now on the Sebastopol’s Boulevard, passing by a newsstand. The bass player screams again: “Wow hey look guys, it’s the T.V. chick we’ve just met on the show!”. Indeed,we can see Nicole Calfan grin on a poster and in a sexy way. It’s entitled ‘NAKED by Mireille Darc’… so this way I repeat “Wow guys,it’s the T.V. chick we’ve just met on the show!” as the Wilde kid’s glancing at me in a very unpleasant way. Here’s another chance to shut up that i’ve just missed again!
WILDE SIDE STORY
They asked us to wait in the corridor until everything’s ready for the rehearsals. There’s a piano left in a corner.The cute sax player sits down and begins to plonk the melody of Child Come Away. It sounds like Satie, played that way.
So that’s the perfect opportunity to get back to my interview.
“That’s what I like in my job as Rock critic, you’re always close to musicians. These people are so glad and music is everywhere with them, always ‘ready to kill’. They just need a piano left in a corridor or next to nothing, that’s what i call artists!”
She seems to have a bit of fun so i ask her: “And apart from waiting for shootings or perfs in cold corridors, what’s your fave pastime in Paris? Shopping?”
“I hate shopping”
“You have the right… so what else?”
“Basically when it’s shining outside, I like to go down right to the end of the Champs Elysées and then have my favorite french meal.”
“A Croque-monsieur* [*toasted cheese sandwich with ham] and a glass of Beaujolais.
“Morning? Is that what you said?”
“Yes but that french word’s an expression too,it actually meant “well! well! i say” but forget it,it’s useless.”
GONE WITH THE WILDE
She’s doing rehearsals for her perf in ‘Video Cracks Super show’.I’m not gonna waste my time telling this,no one would believe it. That’s produced by FR3 and France inter* [*a radio channel] and it’s presented by 2 kids. One wears an FR3 T-shirt & the other one wears a France Inter T-shirt so I guess you’ve got the pic.
Behind the singer you can see pale neons hang on with the writing ‘Video Cracks’ and ‘Super Show’ here and there… FR3 on the left,France Inter on the right etc..
They get it all wrong and Kim’s got to start again but she’s standing still. Soon they get it all wrong again, something like a neon switched off or a kid out of field, well… the Wilde one’s coughing now. A new start, a new mistake. They start it all again. At the 5th take they say: “That one was good, but let’s make another take just to be sure.”
6th take… “Thank you Miss!”
She’s ok for a short shooting in the stairs, with that lack of smile of hers, flashes everywhere, engines purr and Kim has to leave. “Come on guys we’re off” the curly haired guy shouts, adding “there’s another session in the 17th district,then bye bye we’ll go back to the CDG Airport. Hey you Rock Critic, you leave us now?, you lazy yellow-belly man!”
Soooo of course (easier the day after), they all will say ‘YOU cleared off before the end, hey you’re not that professional!’
Alright alright alright… BUUUUUT it was not that bad, even better than with Grace Jones!
And if you look closer, the paper’s less bloody, even though you speak & write in the same way when you have a hangover. So it’s true that I cleared off but I really had what I WANTED.. and no need to take more. Because,there was the THRILL in the end, the one you feel when you meet a STAR, so that was enough. Let me just say that on the 6th take,when she had to start it all again, she really began to feel dead beat!
So when the bridge came up, right in the middle of the song, she tilted her head back, moved her hair and took a long breath. Her breast stretched her white T-shirt as she was standing well with little opened legs. Then she grabbed the mic & almost shouted. The room was filling with her light & something happened. She was smiling within, just like she knew she was good, gifted and… not that stupid. Just that arrogance of those who deserve what happen to them.
“So… under that very close-fitting skirt, tell me… does she wear something or not?”
“Hey you STOP it, shall I hear that question ONCE again & I’ll hit you with my fist!”
“You perfectly heard!”