80s new-wave front man prepares for his Dubai DJ performance
As the frontman of ’80s new-wave band Visage, Steve Strange is best known for the hit single ‘Fade to Grey’, his close friendship with Boy George and an equally flamboyant dress sense. He’ll be playing a DJ set at January’s Retrospect session at 360° this week; we caught up with him on his way to a recording session to find out a few little-known facts.
He’s only ever been to Dubai airport, where he had an encounter with the paps. ‘I stopped off in Dubai with Kate Moss on the way to Thailand. It was mad – the press had been tipped off and it was a bit daunting. I remember the days of the paparazzi myself when I was going out with Francesca von Thyssen, daughter of the richest man in the world – I suppose, without sounding big-headed, we were like the Posh and Becks of the ’80s.’
He’s strange, maybe, but he’s not weird. ‘I suppose, was [’80s performance artist] Leigh Bowery was weird before he died. The new walking piece of art who’s paid by an arts council to be the new Leigh is a guy called Daniel Lismore. You just don’t know what he’s going to be coming out as next. At last Saturday’s party he came as Medusa, obviously not with live snakes, but these plastic snakes coming out of his head. I think he was on a skateboard or something because he was just rolling around under this huge robe.’
As well as DJing, he’s hoping to top up his tan in Dubai. ‘I’ve got about 20 friends in Dubai, and they know I’m a sun god. When the sun’s out, I’m out and ready to tan. People actually say they could set their watches by me.’
He didn’t know showbiz pal Boy George was DJing in Dubai on the same night, in a different club. ‘He texted me to say he wasn’t coming to the party I was throwing last Saturday but if he was he said he’d be screaming down the house with approval. I said, “Is it true you’re playing in Dubai on the same night as me?” and he didn’t mention anything. I’m going to text him back now and say, “Look, you are playing on the same night as me in Dubai.” I’m not sure if he’s playing a bigger club or not.’
If he could choose another era in which to live, he’d opt for Elizabeth I’s reign. ‘I would have been Sir Walter Raleigh. I like all the swashbuckling clothes and the grand finery, and the women and the hair, and how the guys had to dress to compete with the women.’
He’s still making music… ‘I’m working with an A-list producer and I’ve got my own record label. All I can say, for legal reasons, is that we’re possibly working on a format that would be a new Visage album, but if that doesn’t materialise it will be a Steve Strange solo album.’
…and hopes his UAE trip will inspire new material. ‘I do know a lot of people in Dubai, but I’m really looking forward to seeing the city, because I believe travel is education and a great way to open your mind. I hope to learn a lot and perhaps write things into lyrics.’
Steve Strange headlines Retrospect at 360° on February 10.