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Title: The girls Frankie left behind
Author: Gill Pringle
Source: Daily Mirror
Publish date: Friday, March 8, 1985

Secrets of Britain’s outrageous top band

By Gill Pringle

They are the sexy dancing girls who Frankie Goes To Hollywood left behind them. Two sisters who today scrape a living as waitresses.

Then called The Leather Pets, beautiful leather-clad Julie and Marie Muscatelli were a major part of the Frankies act.

Wherever the group went the girls went too, dancing on stage with the band.

But only weeks before Relax became a million pound hit, the girls were ditched.

And while the Frankies fly all round the world and languish in luxury apartments, the girls are resigned to the tough life on a harsh Liverpool housing estate.

They haven’t seen a penny for the groups staggering success.

The Leather Pets shocked TV viewers when they appeared with the band on The Tube, wearing revealing kinky clothes and brandishing whips.

Abrupt

But the girls dreams of fame and money ended with an abrupt phone call.

Blonde Julie, 21, explains: “The band had been summoned to London and we were to follow. But suddenly band member Mark O’Toole rang and told us not to bother. And bang! We were out.”

A spokesman for the record company added: “The Leather Pets were not included in the deal.”

The Frankies became millionaires and the girls were left with nothing but a stream of obscene phone calls from fans.

Marie, 26, says: “The group may have forgotten us, but the fans obviously haven’t. Even now we get regular dirty phone calls.

“They call us slags and mutter obscenities. They upset our mum dreadfully.”

The girls met Paul Rutherford one night in Liverpool’s gay club Jodies.

Chains

Julie says: “Paul was fascinated by my leather clothes and my whip. He told me he had a collection of his own.”

Two days later they played their, first gig together in Sefton Park. Paul gave Julie his own favourite whip while another group member, Peter “Ped” Gill, volunteered the chains.

“I was amazed when I saw Paul’s and Holly’s stage costumes. They wore pants with no bottoms and tiny G-strings. They were such exhibitionists,” says Julie.

“They even wore the same over-the-top gear when we went dancing in night clubs.

“Paul frightened me at first because he looked so menacing, but I soon grew to love him. Everyone in the band adored him.

“But we always got the impression Holly Johnson thought he was better than the rest of us, and never joined in on the laughs.”

Marie says: “When we were dead broke on tour and couldn’t afford hotels. I’d always cuddle up to Paul under a blanket in the back of the van.

“Later on when we stayed in hotels, the lads would amuse themselves by pulling their trousers down and sticking their bare bottoms out of the window at passers-by.

“Ped was the most childish. He had a disgusting, vulgar sense of humour, but you couldn’t help but laugh.

“He’d always be buying tricks and jokes. He put whoopee cushions under other passengers when we travelled on trains.”

The band collected their share of female groupies — and boys would come back stage after every gig to meet Holly.

Julie says: “It was widely known that Paul was courting, so they left him alone.”

Paul quickly became the girls’ protector, warning off any admirers who became too amorous.

“I remember one gig being really scarey,” says Marie. “This bloke in the audience grabbed hold of my leg and wouldn’t let go. He looked dead wimpy with a pair of big glasses, but he had a tight grip on me.

“When Paul saw what was going on, he whizzed over to me, took my whip, and whipped the blokes’ glasses off. The expression on his face was so funny.”

The Leather Pets’ first impression of Ped was a memorable one. He was sporting a Dennis The Menace T-shirt, stuffing his face with a burger, and swigging a bottle of wine.

“Uggh! What a horrible sight. Who is this animal, we thought,” says Marie, shuddering at the recollection.

“But he was really quite harmless,” says Julie.

“It was Holly I never liked. He was always so scathing about us. He annoyed a lot of people and there’s plenty round here who don’t consider him any sort of friend today.”

“Holly wouldn’t even say hello when we last saw the band. I wouldn’t care if I never saw him again.”

Liverpool’s shock rockers Frankie Goes To Hollywood would stop at nothing to stun their pals.

While the BBC recoiled in horror at the “sexually explicit” content of their phenomenal No. 1 single Relax, friends wondered what all the fuss was about.

They remember how Holly Johnson donned women’s frocks, dyed his hair pink, and often wore little more than a skimpy leather G-string.

Once he shaved off all his hair and painted a large black patch over one eye.

But his raunchy pal Paul Rutherford was not to be outdone. He dressed in kinky slashed leather gear, designed for sadomasochists, and had one nipple pierced with a gold ring. He earned a whip and handcuffs.

The band’s carefully cultivated record company image was peanuts compared with their home town antics.

Long before they became a huge success, Paul and Holly craved attention. At Liverpool’s gay Masquerade club the pair would compete night after night for the limelight.

One chum says: “Holly often, disappeared into the gents with Dead Or Alive’s Pete Burns — now No 1 with You Spin Me Round.

“The pair would be in there for hours doing one another’s make-up. They were incredibly vain.”

Their closest friend was fellow musician Jayne Casey. She played with Holly in his first group Big In Japan.

Jayne, 27. says: “Paul and Holly were just so effeminate that they left themselves wide open to attack. It may be OK to be gay today, but in those days you could easily get your head beaten in if anyone found out. They just didn’t care.

“We would go out to clubs together — Paul, Holly, Pete Burns, myself and a few other girls. The guys would always wear a lot more make-up than us and were constantly being picked on.

“If it looked like trouble, the girls would have to step forward to protect the blokes, cause we were less likely to get hit.”

Back home with his parents on the Cantril Farm council estate, Paul was ridiculed by tough Scousers who couldn’t understand this mixed-up kid who preferred boys to girls.

Jayne recalls: “I think that made him very unhappy. But his mum understood he was different. She came to me when he was just 15-years-old and asked if he could have a Saturday job on my clothes stall.”

Paul and Jayne sold weird women’s clothes at Liverpool’s way-out Aunt Twackey’s market in Mathew Street.

Paul became a punk, spiked his hair, wore bondage gear and joined local band The Spitfire Boys, belting out abrasive anarchy anthems at Liverpool’s famous Eric’s club.

Local bands Dead Or Alive, Echo and The Bunnymen. Orchestral Manoeuvres and Wah would top the bill.

Paul and Holly joined forces with local council employees Mark O’Toole, Brian Nash and Peter “Ped” Gill.

They called themselves Frankie Goes To Hollywood — after the headline on a magazine article about Frank Sinatra — and were instantly dubbed Wally Goes To Wigan by sarcastic onlookers.

Paul was going out with an unemployed lumberjack who left Liverpool to get married, and Holly was working on and off as a pizza chef and flogging T-shirts.

Friends would pay 70p, 50p or sometimes nothing to see the band play, and they were always guaranteed some real entertainment.

Now the five lads are millionaires boasting plush London homes in such exclusive areas as Chelsea, Knightsbridge and Little Venice.

“Paul would remind me of comedian Frank Carson. He was a great wit. If he got any stick from the audience, he could always give it back,” says the band’s hairdresser Kevin Kerr, 27.

Kevin still styles Mark O’Toole’s and Brian Nash’s hair at his city centre salon X-Tremes.

“They’re a great bunch of lads. Ped will do absolutely anything for a laugh. They’re like kids who’ve struck gold and can’t believe their luck.

“Success hasn’t changed them. They’re still crazy.”

The “Lads” — as Ped, Brian and Mark. are known — are constantly sending up Paul and Holly.

“They think they’re dead cissy. They laugh at Paul ‘cause when he was at junior school he used to like playing with the girls instead of the boys.

“He was the one with the skipping rope instead of the football.”