SHE was an eighties punk pop star who had 13 top 40 singles and recorded 20 albums, she’s written two books, appeared in more than 40 plays, starred in 10 feature films and presented TV programmes as diverse as The Good Sex Guide, Watchdog and Songs Of Praise, but Toyah Wilcox is still very much in demand.
She will be taking to the stage again next month in a tour of Hormonal Housewives which takes in Leeds, Halifax, York and Wakefield.
“It’s a sketch show with three acts and we play ourselves in between,” explains Toyah.
“It’s Loose Women-style talk, with women talking about how things really are. We don’t shy away from issues like PMS, pregnancy and labour.”
She may have seen success over 30 years but her childhood in Birmingham wasn’t easy.
She was born with a twisted spine, clawed feet, a clubbed right foot, one leg two inches shorter than the other and no hip sockets. Because of this, she endured years of physiotherapy and painful operations, the most recent being in 2010. Her physical condition was a cause of difficult times at school which included bullying. As a result she became quite a tough and rebellious child.
After leaving school aged 17 with one O-level in music she attended the Old Rep Drama School in Birmingham. She’d already gained something of a reputation as an oddball with brightly dyed hair. Her break came when she was offered a part in the BBC play Glitter. Work at the National Theare followed and then further television roles. At the same time she was pursuing her love of music, forming her band Toyah, gaining her a reputation as the “High Priestess of Punk”.
This juggling of her acting and musical passions has gone on throughout Toyah’s life. But the other constant in her life has been her battle with insomnia.
From the age of 14, the 54-year-old has suffered from chronic insomnia, surviving on as little as four hours of sleep a night.
“When I was young I just regarded not sleeping as a fantastic way to pack more into my days. I always reasoned that life’s so short, it seemed crazy to waste it sleeping,” she says. But eventually it turned into a nightmare, raising her stress levels and making her vulnerable to worry.
She comes from a family of insomniacs and says her own problems started during her childhood.
“I remember my mother doing housework until four in the morning and then a couple of hours later taking me to school,” she recalls.
“My sleep pattern got disrupted around the time I was taking my O-levels, but in those days nobody really addressed things like that in children.”
She resorted to quick 20-minute cat naps to refresh herself in the afternoon while she was on demanding musical tours.
It has, she admits, not been easy for her husband, musician Robert Fripp, 66.
“It’s been hell for him because he loves 10 hours of sleep a night, but he’s been so patient, supportive with me, and tried to help me relax and try to sleep,” she says.
Finally, last year, Toyah decided to try acupuncture to solve her sleep problem.
“It took around three months and now I have built up to seven hours of sleep a night, which is incredible. Acupuncture’s changed my life.”
She is now promoting the therapy during Acupuncture Awareness Week which runs until March 3.
Hit comedy and a needle match
Toyah Wilcox is appearing in the three-month tour of the hit comedy Hormonal Housewives from March 5 - May 26.
She will be appearing at the Victoria Theatre Halifax on March 15, Leeds City Variety on March 20, York Grand Opera House on April 18 and Wakefield Theatre Royal on May 9 and 10.
For more information visit www.hormonalhousewives.co.uk/tour
For more on acupuncture visit www.introducing acupuncture.co.uk.