The Independent (3.14.99)
HOW WE MET: SIOUXSIE SIOUX & MARC ALMOND
Singer and musician Siouxsie Sioux, 41, left school at 16 and worked in bars and clubs. She formed the Banshees in 1976 and, two years later, had a top 10 hit with 'Hong Kong Garden'. The Banshees disbanded in 1996 and Siouxsie formed the Creatures with her percussionist husband, Budgie. They live in the South of France with cats Spooky, Spider and Dandy
Singer and musician Marc Almond, 42, studied art in Leeds. In 1981 his synthesiser band, Soft Cell, reached number one with 'Tainted Love'. The band dissolved in 1983 and Marc went solo. His 1989 duet with Gene Pitney, 'Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart', was number one on both sides of the Atlantic. Marc is single and lives in London with his parrot, Jacko
SIOUXSIE SIOUX: I was having something made in a men's leather shop on the King's Road. I was rummaging through some cut-price cock rings, I looked up, and there was Marc Almond. I thought, what a perfect setting to bump into him. I was with Budgie and we accosted him, and complimented him on his music. It was 1981, he had "Tainted Love" in the charts. He was very sweet, taken aback that I knew who he was. I said, "Come on, you've got a number one single." I was more surprised that he knew who I was. He was exotic-looking and I thought he might be part Egyptian. It was quite natural that I was attracted to him, I recognised a kindred spirit. I was struck by his sense of energy, he was wired.
Our relationship developed naturally, going to clubs for serious dancing, meeting for drinks. Life was a big party then. Punk was hyper, fuelled on speed and alcohol, our crowd suffered from excess nervous energy. There was a sense of having to party to knock yourself out; you didn't want to go to sleep in case you missed out.
Marc and I clicked immediately, we felt we'd known each other for a long time. Whenever we are in a group together, we neglect everyone else and yap incessantly. We like things that are very camp and gruesome, whether in a film or book. We both like to be disturbed.
With Marc I know I won't be gossiped about. He's loyal, that's important. I'm fussy about who I see and Marc is in the small circle of people who pass muster. He's like a girlfriend of sorts. I feel fiercely loyal and protective towards my friends, I'm full of righteous indignation on their behalf and harbour violent tendencies towards people who have hurt Marc.
Marc's probably his own worst enemy. I empathise with that; we're both capable of tearing ourselves to pieces. We're strong-willed perfectionists and dig our heels in even at the risk of commercial suicide. I'd like to change that in myself but neither of us would have lasted so long if we didn't have that trait. I'm more of a warrior queen, Marc's found subtle ways of getting his way.
Marc has changed for the better, he's gained confidence. It's rare to survive what we do; we've both lost friends along the way. I've never felt part of the music industry but I'm happy to be on the outside - neither of us is very worried about playing the corporate game.
Since my move to France in the early Nineties we've had gaps. Serendipity has a habit of hooking us up again and each time is like a joyful reunion. The last time was in Paris at a party given by our mutual friends, the artists Pierre et Gilles.
We're reserving a plot in the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris, beside Jim Morrison. The memorial stones are over the top, amazing sculptures in their own right. We abhor mediocrity and are determined to avoid it to the very end. That's the diva in us.
MARC ALMOND: I went to a shop in the King's Road to be measured up for a pair of leather trousers. It was basically a sex shop. While I was rifling through the whips, chains and accoutrements I felt a tap on my shoulder, turned around, and had the shock of my life - Siouxsie and Budgie were staring down at me, I was holding a cock ring. I was like a rabbit caught in headlights. Siouxsie told me how much she loved our music in her husky, sexy voice, and I was enthralled. She had a typical Siouxsie look - Theda Bara meets Sally Bowles; very made-up, long spiky hair, dressed all in black. That's what I like so much about Siouxsie - she never disappoints people when she goes out, she exudes star quality.
I'd been aware of Siouxsie and the Banshees since 1977 when I was intrigued by an interview I read in a magazine called Sounds. They seemed so decadent. I became a bit of a Banshee groupie, I loved their stance and imagery, which I saw as being a continuation of things I'd liked in Lou Reed and David Bowie.
I'm shy and find it hard to ring people up but we used to bump into each other at the Camden Palace and the Back Cave, where bands like the Cure and Culture Club hung out. Budgie has always been forward and friendly and invited me out. The Banshees were a clique and if you were let into their sanctum it was a special feeling. I gradually got to know Siouxsie better and we had some wild nights out. I remember an evening at the Sombrero, a little gay club in Kensington.We both loved Sylvester's disco hit "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" - when it started playing we took over the dance floor.
Siouxsie's most appealing qualities are her directness and honesty. They're her strength. She is better at not suffering fools than I am. Her Achilles heel might be that she's so determined to do things her way she'll sell herself short. I do it too, we won't listen to anyone. I like and am drawn to women who are slightly formidable. Siouxsie has this aloof aura, she wears this air of disdain, but once you get to know her she's really fun.
We drifted apart a little when Siouxsie moved to France. When we do meet, sometimes through a series of happy coincidences, we pick up where we left off like it was yesterday.
We're like-minded souls and character-wise and looks-wise we're from the same mould. Our music differs but we share influences from the glam- rock era of Marc Bolan and Roxy Music, and both adore early European films. We each have a dark, twisted sense of humour and a cynical look at the world.
We've reached similar plateaux in our careers - we can now choose our projects. I have more confidence and she's happier. Neither of us is hankering after being a trendy pop star anymore - as long as we can pay the bills and live comfortably, that's great.
Siouxsie is a fabulous enigma. You can never get to know her properly. We may not live in each others' pockets, but in between our globe-trotting we'll hook up for a meal in a lively Greek restaurant, drinking retsina and smashing plates.
Marc Almond's album 'Open All Night' is released on 29 March on Blue Star Records; The Creatures' new album, 'Anima Animus', is out now on Sioux Records.
Contributed by Jerry Burch.