Date: 1 August 1987
Originally published in: Melody Maker (UK)
Wide-eyed and reckless, Kim Wilde has discovered sex. At least, she writhes a bit on the vid of the new single. Paul Mathur talks dirty with the born-again Femme Fatale.
Three years ago, I would be talking to Kim Wilde because of a certain pop richness, an irresistible grace in the face of lumpen, unmoving objects, a tingly inevitable beauty. In 1987 I am talking to Kim Wilde because she’s made a video in which she rolls about a bit. Are you George Michael, Kim?
“No, the video was conceived ages before the George Michael one. Besides, George Michael’s isn’t actually very sexy. It lost its way a bit between having something to say and being good to look at.”
Kim Wilde has a video for her new single ‘Say you really want me’ which doesn’t seem to have a lot to say, but which features several young men tearing their vest off and Ms Wilde herself writhing around in black and pearl on a bed. Sexy?
“I never thought it was a particularly sexy song to start off with, in fact it didn’t sound very much like a single to me, but I think the video makes it stronger.”
Kim’s video is Eighties sexy, something which, in a post AIDS world, necessarily has very little to do with sex. It’s sexy as in impulsive and soft focus recklessness and bound up with a PG rather than X certificate. And it’ll sell. The vaguely reassuring misconception among the nation’s tabloid arbiters of taste that what Kim is doing on that bed has something to do with what the audience will immediately go out and do on theirs is thoroughly, through default, not so wide of the mark this time. Not many of them will be writhing about discovering carnal pleasures with strangers; they’ll be copying her and throwing themselves into the centre of all this adoration for What It Is To Be Blonde. Kim plays around straight out of Marilyn Monroe’s Last Sitting, right down to the string of pearls dangling from her mouth, politely resisting double entendre. It’s not quite banal but almost perfect.
What’s with the peroxide Kim? I never asked her that in case she said it was just something to do, but she does tousle it a bit with the casual abandon that studied sexuality requires. You have to like her.
Are you going to corrupt people Kim?
“I shouldn’t think so. Most of the kids I went to school with were far more ‘corrupt’ even then. Kids are disgusting. They know everything.”
“Not everything. I first learned about what boys do to girls and what girls do to boys when I was at secondory school. It disgusted me. It didn’t make me go out and do it, well not all of it. Parentss should ban their children’s friends, not the videos they watch. We were always quite open about sex in our house so I wasn’t really horrified that my parents did these things, but it alwoys seemed a bit distasteful that my friends’ parents did them.”
Of course Kim’s parents… well, her father at least, has already gargled with success as a pop singer, and remains, with her brother Ricky, one of the greatest influences over her career. At the recent AIDS benefit at Wembley they sing together for the first time in public, choosing the rather inopportune, considering the function, “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word”.
“It was nice to be able to sing with him at last. I know if I’d hove done it earlier in my career I’d have been flogged mercilessly, even more so than I have been. I’m not saying I want to be taken seriously, I don’t want that at all, but I do love being in music and I’d like people to believe that. Whatever you lot think of me, I’m still around.”
Kim peppers her conversation with references to “you lot’ and “your colleagues” until I start to feel like a spokesman for lepers or something. Her anger and distrust of the press is quite surprising since when she started it was themusic press more thon anyone who recognised her as one of pop’s more perceptive gestures.
“I was never aware of all that. These days I’m angry but I’ve learnt to channel it all. Berry Gordy always maintained that you don’t get even with people by shouting at them.”
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?
“I’m not telling you that.”
What’s the eighth worst thing you’ve ever done?
“Probably the ‘Cambodia’ video. That was deadful.”
Are you a great thinker?
“I don’t think I’m great but I do a lot of it. Pop is actually something that gives you chance to think. “
Doesn’t it all seem daft sometimes?
“Some of it does. ‘Top Of The Pops’ isn’t daft because it sells my records.”
How important is success?
“Very important obviously.”
Would you rather not be famous or never be able to see the colour blue again?
“Oh the colour blue would win out. I have to be able to see the sky. I could do without mauvel, though.”
The Kim Wilde of seven years ago might have wanted a whole rainbow, but these days subtle shades seem less important.
“I have changed a lot in the last seven years and if I look back then maybe I didn’t do things in as qood or as interesting a way as I could have. It’s funny but I was looking back at some old footage of ‘Kids in America’ the other day and I was amazed at how still I was. That was probably because I was scared shitless of the camera. I remember someone asked Lauren Bacall about that look where she has her head down and stares up at the camera. Everyone thought it was really mysterious and sexy but she was only doing it to keep her skirt up or something. I can identify with that.”
Is fear important to you?
“Yes definitely. I suppose a lot of people expect me to have less fear than other people, to be indestructible, but of course I’m not. Fear and lack of confidence has made me develop my sense of humour and if I have any regrets it’s that the sense of humour hasn’t manifested itself enough. There was a period a few years back when it all got a bit serious.”
Do you argue with your family’s advice?
“I’ve always bossed my dad and my brother around. I’ve always been in control of the men around me, but I’ve never been a rebel as such, I never saw the point. Rebellion’s not particularly creatively inspiring, I mean, there’s nothing more boring than a rebel without a cause.”
Have you ever rebelled against anything?
“Only the attitudes of people who make judgments about me before they meet me. Maybe that’s not what people like you would call rebellious.”
There she goes again. People like me. Are you paranoid Kim? I never asked her that either, but we did talk about being lonely.
“I’ve been lonely. I’ve been very lonely even though I’ve had a very strong family around me. I’m more lonely than I used to be. It’s a mental rather than a physical thing. My mum would like me to get married I think but that’s probably because of the wedding. It’d be a good party.”
Have you got more dignity these days?
“It’s not a word I’d use but it’ll do. Yes. There’s more questions that matter to be answered these days.”
Have you ever performed a great song, Kim?
“‘Rage to Love’, ‘View from a bridge’, ‘Chequered love’, ‘You’ll never be so wrong’ on the first album. There’s been a few. I’ve not been the most unpredictable person in pop, but I’ve also not been the most predictable. I’m just the way I am and I’m stuck with me. So are you lot.”
Kim Wilde is smarter these days even if she is sometimes a little too honest for her own good. She tells me things during the course of the interview that the tabloid slobs she’d love to see me as spokesman for, would clamber over each other to reveal to the world. Sorry boys, but I’ve eaten the tape and stapled my lips together. She maintains that she’s never slept with Jeffrey Archer, but then we all do.
“I’m much happier these days. I’m hungry.”