Entertainment » Music

Samantha Fox :: Angel with an Attitude

by Scott Kearnan .
Thursday Apr 2, 2009

When I tell singer Samantha Fox that she was the first girl I ever had a crush on - the star of my errant schoolboy daydreams, the subject of preternaturally sexual, inappropriate notes passed in class (and embarrassingly intercepted by grade school teachers), and the name I put on the dedication page of the childhood stories this young writer pounded out on an old, dilapidated typewriter - she is unsurprised. What can she say? She gets that a lot.

"Years ago, when I was in my twenties, my fans were a lot younger," says
Fox, who first found fame as the most popular topless model in British tabloid The Sun's "Page 3" before becoming the UK's answer to sexpot pop stars like Madonna. "They fantasized and wrote me letters: 'When I grow up, I want to marry you!'"

Guilty, I admit, as charged.

When I tell singer Samantha Fox that she was also one of the last girls I ever had a crush on, and that my attraction to her suggestive, frothy '80s dance pop - "Touch Me (I want your body)," "Naughty Girls (Need Love Too)," "I Wanna Have Some Fun" - was probably based more on the quality of its sexual education (and some pretty awesome dance moves in ripped jeans) than on any real desire to get with a girl, she is also unsurprised. She gets that a lot, too.

"A lot of my gay fans wrote me to tell me I was their first crush," she says. "Some would have my posters on their wall so their dad wouldn't know. Or they were confused."

"But they grow up," she says of her young admirers. "Now, they're either married with children and the fantasies have probably stopped ... or they're gay, and they've found themselves."

Well, guess what boys? So is Samantha, and so has she.

"I don't talk too much about my personal life, but I'm very, very happy," says Fox. Despite what she's bared of her body, Fox is cagier about revealing too much of her private world. But it's fascinating to learn that the woman who built her music career with a persona of cheeky, playful, male-baiting sexuality, has now settled down with a naughty girl of her own.

"I don't really believe in labels," says Fox, when asked if she now identifies as part of the LGBT community. "But sure, you can call me gay if you want, because I know I'm going to be with Myra [Stratton, her partner and business manager] for the rest of my life."

With her latest album, "Angel with an Attitude," just receiving its stateside release via digital music stores, more than a few fans are probably rediscovering their Foxy fantasies. They're bound to love the tunes in store, a saucy combination of Fox's trademark sensual pop strut with a darker, more organic angst. But Fox says that they also seem to love and support her long term same-sex relationship, even if (for shame!) it means their pin-up ponderings will never come to fruition.

"They're happy for me," she says of how fans react when they learn of her relationship with Stratton. "They're just happy that I've found love. I've never heard anything negative. If anything, I've received lots of support from fans that couldn't tell their parents they were gay. I hope I've helped a lot of people. It's a scary thing for somebody, a big deal to come out and be open. You have to learn to love yourself and be truthful to yourself."

It can be a long road to love and truth, and Fox admits that "Angel with an Attitude" reflects some of the struggles - especially with her family and profession - that she's had along the way. Specifically, Fox experienced a major fall-out with her father who had managed her since her career started to explode at age 16. Fueled by an addiction to drugs and alcohol, his mismanagement of her finances wound up costing the pop star nearly everything she had earned during the height of her commercial success.

"It took a lot of courage for me to turn to my dad and say, 'I don't think you can handle me anymore,'" says Fox. "He got himself into a bad way with drugs and alcohol."

Fox's parents divorced (she remains close to her mom, and is even cooking her a birthday lunch as we chat on the phone), and she wound up in litigation over a decade's worth of back-taxes that her father neglected to pay. "He would just bury his head in the sand and not give me any info about my bank accounts," she says. "The tax man didn't believe that I didn't know anything about this [unpaid taxes], but I was just 16 when I started."

"I lost everything I owned in the 1990s," she sighs. "I had to start from the beginning and build myself from the ground up again. If it wasn't for my fans and for gigging, I don't know if I would have survived it."

"Don't even try it, cause this Fox don't buy it!" she laughs, cribbing one of her trademark lyrics. "You're either born with it [sexuality] or you're not. And if you got it, you can't help but flaunt it."

The music on "Angel with an Attitude" alternately reflects Fox's initial despondency and her bodacious blonde ambition to overcome. "There are songs on the album where you hear a positive attitude," she says. "I said to myself, 'I'm a kid from a council estate [in the UK, a public housing project]. I started from nothing.' It's interesting to re-evaluate yourself as a mature woman. It was really daunting and scary at first because after a couple years you do think, 'Oh, people have forgot about me.' But I do have a fan base."

And she says she's thrilled to share the latest evolution of Samantha Fox with those fans.

"My first albums, there was a lot of sense of fun," she says. "I was a younger girl then. I'm a woman now with a lot of experiences, and I wanted to share that with my fans rather than just the exterior that everyone sees."

Fair enough, but don't let Fox fool you. She still wants to have some fun, and she hasn't lost her naughty edge. Last year, at age 42, Fox even posed for one more topless photo shoot to commemorate her selection as the greatest Page 3 pin-up of all time by readers of The Sun. And her impact on the presentation of sexuality in pop music is still evidenced today.

"Some people look at Lady Gaga today, turn to me and say, 'That looks like you in the '80s!'" she laughs. "I remember when I started with the song 'Touch Me,' they were basically looking for a British Madonna. To me, Madonna exudes sexuality; she was a strong woman and she didn't give a shit. There were men along the way, Elvis Presley thrusting his hips and all that ... but it was really hard for women to be accepted and she [Madonna] was my role model in that way. ... It was a difficult time in the '80s for women to be able to exude sexuality without being put down for it."

Of course, it helped Fox - as it did Madonna - that her projection of sexuality seemed to come naturally. It wasn't forced, but it was ferocious; this Fox was no posturing Pussycat Doll.

"It's natural," says Fox of her sense of sexuality. "When I go back to being a little girl, I was always inquisitive and nosy: 'What is that like? What does this look like?' I've always been very confident in that way. But some women, you can see when they do a music video that the director has actually told them what to do and the way to look and stuff. I look at that and I think, 'Well now, I can't imagine that woman in bed!'"

"Don't even try it, cause this Fox don't buy it!" she laughs, cribbing one of her trademark lyrics. "You're either born with it [sexuality] or you're not. And if you got it, you can't help but flaunt it."

Even when the sexuality takes a slightly different form than the way it used to look.

"You can't deny love, and it's a great love story," she says of her current relationship with Stratton. "I have no disrespect towards men at all. I've had fabulous love affairs and boyfriends - probably only one or two I really loved - but when I met Myra I instantly fell in love."

"You can't help that, can you?" she asks. "Anyone who is out there who's not sure of who they are [should know] that it's got to be real. It's got to be truthful."

And Fox doesn't mind that I revealed my own truth, that I'm finally chatting with my own childhood crush.

"I'm glad I left you with a good impression," she laughs.

To thine own self be true, and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that - for just a moment - I felt like a schoolboy again, knowing that famously flirty Fox giggle was finally meant for me.

Samantha Fox's latest album "Angel with an Attitude" is now available on iTunes and other digital music retailers. For more info and updates on North American tour dates, visit: samfox.com.

Copyright Bay Windows. For more articles from New England's largest GLBT newspaper, visit www.baywindows.com


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