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Sam Fox: The Page After 2

Sam Fox signed a contract with England’s newspaper the Sun at age 16 and within a few years was one of England’s most famous Page 3 girls and most photographed women. Twenty years on, Sam Fox has now earned a reputation as a talented pop musician and is coming to Perth as part of The Countdown Spectacular Tour. Here’s what Sam had to say to OUTinPerth’s Megan Smith about life after Page 3…

Megan: Being American, I didn’t know what a page 3 girl was…

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Sam: It’s the page after page 2…

M: [laughs] There you go. So, has page 3 helped or hindered your musical career?

S: There was a competition in the paper and it said “the face and shape of ‘83” and I had no intention at that time to be a topless model. I must say, I didn’t think everyday, ‘Ooh, I want to be a page 3 girl.’ I did very well in that competition, though I was still a schoolgirl… I’d been going to Spain with my mom and dad and I was always going topless. We were a quite liberal family really. I was brought up reading the Sun, me and my mum, looking at it every morning, discussing her hair, what she’s not wearing or whatever she is wearing. It was a talking point every morning. So, to me, it was just something I had always been around.

The Sun had seen my picture in the Sunday People, which is the Mirror Group paper, then [Rupert] Murdoch sent a journalist and a photographer to my school. I was doing my O levels at the time and I wasn’t there. My friend told them where I lived and they knocked on my door and offered me a four year contract, quite a lot of money actually. I always had me savings, but when I saw this check, I thought ‘Oh, my life is going to change.’ I discussed it with my parents, and they said they knew I could handle it, I was very mature for my age.

There I was at 16. I was like, college don’t look so good now and I took it on. There was no other girl in the Sun who ever had a contract, and it was basically that I couldn’t appear topless in any other paper. I was like their girl and for 4 years it was a very lucrative career. I said to myself, if I am going to do this, I am going to be the best and I want to be the best. I knew I could handle four years and by 20 I’d be old enough and mature enough to get into the music business.

It was a little bit of a hindrance really, especially in Britain. It wasn’t like I was Madonna or Geri Halliwell who had done a few topless things in their life and then it came out to haunt them. It was a career because people saw me nearly everyday in the newspaper page 3. So, when my song first played on the radio, DJ Chris Tarrant actually went, ‘Oh, here we go, here’s Sam Fox with a song called Touch Me, typical’, and he scratched it off the radio and I didn’t get on the playlist at all. Then it went to number 1 in 17 countries where I wasn’t known before (page 3 only happens in England) and then England started to play it and it went to number 3.

M: Of all the tracks you have put together, do you have one that is an anthem for you?

S: I love the title track from the album Angel with an Attitude. It’s the first song that I wrote for the album and basically two years previous to the release of the album in Canada I went through quite a big court case with my father when I felt this business had wrecked my family. My mom and dad were divorced. My dad and me were just not seeing eye to eye anymore. He went down the road of alcohol and drugs. It was just an awful time for me and I felt I couldn’t trust anybody.

Then I met my manager, who is a woman, and the first thing she said to me was that she could see I was pretty down and didn’t really have the enthusiasm I would normally have. It was so nice to hear somebody say to me, look, I think you should take a couple years off. You have been working hard since you were sixteen and your life has been a rollercoaster and you’ve never actually sat down and taken a good look at your life and where you want to go. I think you should sit and write your book and your music, get it all out.

Normally a manager would say, ‘Ok, right, let’s get on with the work. I want me percentage. Get out there girl.’ But she didn’t, and that was wonderful. I travelled around the world and did all the things I couldn’t do when I was a teenager. In those two years, I had a good look at my life and I thought, ‘No, I’m worth more than that and I’m going to make myself strong and get out there.’

M: What is going to be the biggest surprise for people reading your upcoming book?

S: I’ve never talked a lot about my private life. There have been a lot of misunderstandings. When people write things about you, I was never one of those people to ring up the Courier and go, ‘Why have you done that?’ I’ve always thought it’s tomorrow fish ‘n chip paper. It will go away. And it does. So, this is going to be my side, my story, how I felt about certain things in my life and how I was perceived. I think people will realize I’m no dumb blonde, I’ll put it that way… I’m not a real blonde anyway.

M: Was there a particular time, the media was way out of line or you really struggled with the public spotlight and the media attention that came with it?

S: When I broke America. The only way you can break America, really, is to go and live there because that’s just what you have to do. And I was willing to go to live there because I did want to break America. It is a big market and it was something I was inspired as a kid growing up and watching American shows and seeing how many artists in Britain never made it in America. So, I was determined to do it. When I went to live there, the press really alienated me for awhile and they thought I had turned my back on Britain. That was awful, really awful because I was just doing my job. I wasn’t leaving England forever. I never would because of my family and I am British. That’s my home.

Britain and I are a bit like that, we are a very small country, but we have got a very big ego. [The media] helped me a lot and I never diss the papers because as much as people think they may have exploited me, I exploited them too.

M: What do you want people to take away from your songs?

S: Fight the fear and feel the love, you know.

M: Anything else you would like to say to the good people of Perth?

S: People of Perth, please go purchase the album because I want to be back in the charts again so I can come back here and do my own tour and give you all the hits and more.

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