Holly’s such a wally!
Face to face with the soft and soggy star of the Frankies
FROM THE MOMENT I shook hands with Holly Johnson, I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy our meeting.
His limp hand just slithered straight out of my grasp. Okay, you shouldn’t put a guy down for a handshake, but it was a sign of slippery times ahead.
No one can deny that Holly hasn’t made it. After all, he and Frankie Goes To Hollywood sold more records than any other band in Britain last year. And their current British tour is a complete sell-out.
Credit where it’s due—
He has the sort of soft and soggy voice that makes John Inman seem like Sylvester Stallone.
And sexy? Forget it girls. Don’t ask me why some of them spend hours hanging around outside hotels hoping to touch him. They’ll have more fun holding a daffodil.
Holly, 25, who once boasted that he lost his virginity when he was 14 to a woman eight years older than himself, is now far too important and image-conscious to discuss such things.
In fact, to begin with, he even tried to deny it.
“It’s no longer relevant to discuss my sexual activities,” he drawled.
“I’ve made comments in the past that I’ve later regretted.”
If you’re wondering just why Holly is being so coy, particularly in view of the row he caused with the homosexual overtones in Relax which was banned by the BBC, the answer was just across the room.
His German friend Wolfgang was sitting there, looking affectionately over at Holly. He tours with him as “makeup man and dresser” and takes very good care of Holly.
When Holly left after the interview, he went off with Wolfgang to his new house in South West London—
Holly was saying nothing about any of it.
But then, as you soon discover, he doesn’t say much about anything.
He’s supposed to be the brightest Of the Frankies—
Holly didn’t like school—
“I didn’t spend much time at school.” Holly recalls, “which was a bit stupid really.
After school, Holly wanted to go to art college—
So he tried writing songs, playing with various bands and working on building sites and as a chef cooking pizzas.
Meanwhile he was expanding his mind.
“I was reading German philosophers and French surrealists.” he says with a vagueness that suggests he was reading the books upside down without realising it.
Holly gets upset if you suggest that he is anything less than brilliantly intelligent.
He insists it was he and the other four Frankies who masterminded their success last year. It had little to do with the sound created by Trevor Horn and the marketing campaign dreamed up to flog it.
“All the original ideas came from us,” he says testily. “Other people may have helped furnish us with a sound and created an identity, but the rest was all us.”
Since the Frankies are little more than a sound and an identity, this doesn’t leave much, apart from five faces to fill the blank spaces.
“We’ve always been under attack by other people and particularly other bands,” says Holly.
“It’s a mixture of envy, because we’ve sold so many records, and fear, because we’re good and we’ve stolen their limelight.”
As anyone will discover if they meet Holly, he’s nothing if not modest.
He may have been a rather shy boy at one time, but these days he’s just plain smug, self-satisfied and cocky.
He proclaims: “I think we’ve handled our success incredibly well.”
But even Holly has to admit that what’s happened to them in the last couple of years has been a bit startling. He has gone from being broke to being very wealthy.
“But I think that I was happier then than I am now,” he says.
There were fewer things on my mind.
“Then it was just the gas and electricity bill and the £200 overdraft to worry about. Now it’s more important things.”
More important things like trying to prove how talented he is, how bright and interesting he is, and how really the Frankies did it all themselves.
Sorry Holly you’re a Wally—