‘Some people should never do a comeback’

England is a country of gardeners, and one of the most famous ones is an enthusiastic, blonde fortysomething who has been awarded repeatedly and has worked on numerous tv-programmes about gardens. The lady is called Kim Wilde, and non-horticulturalists know her as the enthusiastic, blonde twentysomething who had big hits with ‘Kids in America’, ‘Chequered love’, ‘Cambodia’ and ‘You keep me hangin’ on’ in the early eighties. Now she is back: with a record, a tour that will bring her to Brussels next week, and an interview.

For starters: why a comeback?
Hmmm, why indeed? When I got out of music a couple of years ago, I felt it was forever. I became a mum twice, and didn’t miss the whole music thing at all. But five years or so ago I did a series of eighties concerts – the Here & Now tour, but I always called it the Been & Gone tour (laughs). The audiences and the media were very enthusiastic. Then the duet with Nena came (Anyplace, anywhere, anytime – ed.) and then I thought recording a new album might be fun.

Touring with Paul Young, The Human League, Belinda Carlisle and Nik Kershaw, weren’t you afraid that people would look at that tour as a sort of freakshow?
I thought about that at first, but then I thought: what the hell? I got paid well and it was fun. And if I didn’t like it anymore, I would just go home, because I don’t really need it. But it was fantastic. We were even in Australia: the English national rugby team was there at the time, and all these people came to watch ΓΊs!

Did you wear your old eighties clothes?
No, it was even worse, haha. I decided I should go as a rockchick, and I needed to wear black leather pants. I, er, don’t have the same size I did in 1981, but I simply put myself up to do it.

French men

What was is like being famous when you’re 20?
I felt it was great. I always wanted to be a popstar. I spent all my life in music. When I was sixteen or seventeen, I was doing backing vocals for my father (rock and roll singer Marty Wilde – ed.) – my mum and me always had to sing. So when I started at 20, I was really already a veteran.

Did you notice that every boy between twelve and twenty was madly in love with you?
I did notice I had an influence on people of that age. I noticed because of the fanmail I got, things that were written about me, gifts they sent me. And on the streets I saw girls who wanted to look like me.

Did you get a lot of love letters?
Loads. Sometimes really strange ones, from people who were really obsessed with me. I still get a bizarre letter every month from a fan in Germany who seems to think we have a relationship. One time, someone was at my door. My husband opened the door and the man asked if I was at home, because he wanted to marry me. ‘Then we may have a small problem’, my husband said, ‘because I am already married to her.’ Well, he didn’t see the problem at all, haha.

Did you keep in touch with pop music while you were out of the music business?
I did lose track of the charts when I had my children. That was some ten years ago, when the Spice Girls were getting really big. I thought it was a great time to stop listening to the radio – what crap! But a year later, All Saints came around and I did like them, so I started to follow things again. Right now I really like Lily Allen.

What do you dislike?
I have always disliked Chris de Burgh. I saw him on tv recently and I almost froze – some people really should never do a comeback. The strange thing is: I did meet him in Paris once – and that’s where you do things you only do in Paris. I almost dare not say it, but in a bar we did, after too much drinks, sing ‘The Lady in Red’ at the piano together.

Please tell me nothing else happened.
No! As if this isn’t bad enough! I am afraid to death that someone filmed it and it will appear on the internet someday. This incident is in my top 10 of hilarious rock moments.

You didn’t have many relationships with other popstars, did you?
Yes. I once had a date with Adam Ant. At the end of the evening we were watching MTV together, watching Adam Ant and Kim Wilde clips. Not very romantic. And he didn’t drink, so we had coffee in the middle of the night. That was over pretty quickly. You know, those stars all love themselves so much, it’s no fun. I did have a major crush on David Bowie when I was touring with him. Unfortunately the feelings weren’t mutual. And I was also madly in love with a French singer, Etienne Daho. But he wasn’t interested as well. And I also liked Christopher Lambert. He was a bit strange. I asked him to play in a video of mine. Some time later he called me in the middle of the night, that I should come to Paris and more things like that. Strange, because he was married. But oh well, that’s what French men do…

What was the most sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll thing you ever did?
I once drank champagne from someone’s shoe. My brother and I were drinking all night in a hotel lobby. When it became light outside and some people were coming in, he had the brilliant idea to crawl around on hands and knees, ask people for their shoes and to drink champagne out of them. I know it sounds weird, but we felt it was hilarious then.

You also toured with Michael Jackson. Was he already crazy back then?
Phew, yes. He was very private. I didn’t speak with him at all during the tour, not even when a picture was taken of us together. Things were different with Bowie: I’d meet him ten times a day and we talked every time.

In Germany you are still a big name, comparable to David ‘Knight rider’ Hasselhoff. Is it a compliment or an insult?
Hahaha, I once had a dinner with David Hasselhoff. I know of no-one who is that much in love with himself, but he was very funny. I am glad he doesn’t take himself that seriously anymore, but I think it’s strange to find out everyone is laughing about you. But my fame in Germany stems mostly from my working with Nena.

Your hobby is gardening. Not very rock and roll.
In England, gardening is the new rock and roll, really. After music, it was a new passion for me. I wanted a beautiful garden for my children, and so I went to college to learn about it. It was great not being the center of attention anymore. My fellow students knew who I was, but they didn’t care. It was also great to get good grades and praise from teachers, because I used to be a really bad student. Gardening has become my second career. I got my own tv-programme, and won a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show – one of the biggest shows of its kind. At that moment it felt better than any gold record.

One more thing: you’re one of few eighties stars who never played in a bad movie.
That’s because they never asked me. But I will soon make my debut. I do play a very small role: one moment I am standing up, the next I get hit by a sled and fall down dead. I may lie down in the snow while a small bit of blood comes out of my mouth: how cool is that? I can’t act, but I practice every day.