Title: At home with Holly Johnson
Author: Jacqueline Hedley
Source: Smash Hits
Publish date: 27 Sept 1984
At home with HOLLY JOHNSON
Holly collects things. It was just a few odds and ends in the Liverpool days when he was trying to be an actor and didn’t have much money, but since he’s moved to London with Frankie Goes To Hollywood his new flat’s been filling up rather fast. There’s medals, mirrors, masks, hats, walking sticks… Jacqueline Hedley gets the guided tour. Mike Putland takes the photos.
“Come in and have a look. Isn’t there just a slight difference between this and Toxteth?”
Holly Johnson — cap on head, silver-topped cane in hand, medals pinned to shirt pocket, his riot-torn Liverpool roots now far behind him — nudges open the heavy pine door to his spacious Knightsbridge apartment with a gesture that suggests you’re about to be impressed.
Which of are, of course. You’re invited into a cool suite of rooms with high ceilings and mostly white painted, objets d’art and old bits of furniture. Apart from the fact that there’s a kettle boiling over in the kitchen, it’s the kind pf effortlessly stylish town residence which you’d expect to belong to some affluent art dealer. Which is also the case. The bloke who owns the flat buys and sells prints, pictures and furniture and rents out the two other bedrooms — one to an architect, the other to the singer with Frankie Goes To Hollywood. All of which is perfect for Holly who’s always shared his landlord’s ravenous appetite for scouring old junk shops and auctions for antiques. He knows a lot about it, still reads books on the subject, visits museums when he has the time, and sees the place as something very separate from his life with the group.
“We only meet for work,” he says between endless cups of coffee. “I think it’s disgusting to stick together the whole time. Each of us has his own private life.”
And Holly’s, you can’t help but feel, is a rather exclusive one. When he’s home (“not often”), he plays records, reads stuff on history and philosophy and rummages around in his collection of odds and ends. There’s the papier mache actor’s masks from Liverpool (left over from the time be was trying to do drama) plus piles of paraphernalia acquired “since I had money — not very long”. There’s the massive assortment of hats, bits of ‘30s furniture, Picasso prints (actually owned by the art dealer), medals and mirrors. There’s even a little plaster sailor that sits on the stairs, possibly Holly’s favourite among all his possessions and the one that has most sentimental value. Why did he bring it all the way down from Liverpool?
“Well, he brings me luck. And he makes the place seem like home.”