Title: Frankie speaking or are they?
Author: Carole Linfield
Publish date: May 4 1985
Frankie speaking or are they? Carole Linfield tries to find out what Frankie say…
IT’S A seemingly impossible task, getting an interview with the elusive Holly Johnson. There’s a slim chance you’ll be offered Paul, or Ped, or Mark… but never the man with the most to say.
Backstage at Paris’ pleasuredome, courtesy of “accidentally” aquiring a VIP pass, we give it a go. The recently bleached singer stands apart from the rest with his boyfriend, an incredible hunk of masculinity called Wolfgang. Horse sized guard dogs patrol. A minder with no discernible neck keep a blank but beady eye on his stars. Gulp.
He turns his back for a second and I make my bid. OK Holly, can we have an interview?
“Sure. No problem.” Slightly startled, but composed. “Just ring the press office…”
Ah, yes. The press office. You see, we’ve been trying that old tack for six weeks now. They agree to it in principle but then decline to arrange it. How about a quick chat after the gig?
“Well,” lilts Holly, deliciously deliberately. “I don’t like to do interviews after the show because of, well…” He indicates his throat. “The voice…” he mouths.
Fair enough. I’ve got some time before leaving tomorrow — how about then?
“No…” It’s hard to see if there’s a glint in his eye — all I can see is my own reflection in oddly shaped shades. “I like to… lie in in the mornings. Why not arrange a phoner?”
Hmmm. Not quite as good as face to face combat. When are you next back on old Blighty’s shores?
“Let me see… I think we’re back for a couple of days in — when is it?”
“October,” confirms Wolfgang.
October…? Will Frankie Goes To Hollywood still be around by then?
“Oh yeah. We all get on very well together… and there’s at least three albums in Frankie.”
So what are you doing till October?
“We’re hoping to go to Nassau to record the next album in the summer, because…”
“…you can sun yourself on the beach?
“Yeah, that too. But mainly cos loads of people have recorded there that we really admire, like the B52’s.”
So there’ll be some new material soon?
“Yeah, but we’re going to sit on it for a while so that it doesn’t come out in November, when everyone releases records. It’d be too late for Christmas. So we’ll hold it and release it early in ‘86.”
You see? There doesn’t seem to be a problem. I thought perhaps Holly was shy of interviews after a vicious, puerile attack from the Sun recently.
“Oh, no…” he grins. “It’s a real compliment when a paper like the Sun slags you off!”
A call from onstage.
“Excuse me. I have to go know.” Smiles sweetly.
So many questions, so little time. So many rumours rife. Like, is it true that the band make Holly and his boyfriend travel in a separate tour bus? And that the so-called lads pelt Holly with abuse every time he walks past their bus? Or that Holly doesn’t travel by tour bus at all but turns his back on the “team spirit” and flies to each destination? Because if any of them have a hint of truth, it doesn’t sound like a band with enough time left for three albums…
Despite Holly’s personal approval, we’re still told through the formal channels that there’s “little hope” of them arranging even a phoner. “You see, they’re doing so many international interviews.”
But Frankie don’t need protecting. By all accounts, they’ve been helpful, generous and co-operative to a fault with their support act. Even Plonker Ped (“I may be the ugliest man in rock but I can still pull”) apologised to a female press officer who he’d vocally abused throughout their tour. Well, it’s a start.
One theory from a cynical colleague is that ZTT are only concentrating on the overseas market now that they’ve saturated the UK with ‘Welcome…’. It’s an interesting theory. And isn’t it nice to know they care about those of you who actually bought the album?
Whichever way, somebody somewhere is keeping us vampires from their door when a bit of healthy bloodletting is in order. And that sucks.