It's A Man's World: Billy Idol
The singer on fashion, fitness and grooming, his tattoos,
his crucifixes and why a man must know his limits...
Otherwise, as Malcolm McLaren said, ‘If it was just about music it would have been dead a long time ago.’ It was music, style, attitude.
There’s no one person I’d call iconic today.
Films have always influenced me. Marlon Brando, James Dean and all those greats from the cinema have played their part, along with musicians and the artistic firmament that surrounds me. In the Seventies my style icon was David Bowie. Now I pick up bits and pieces from different people from different eras.
I’d have loved to have worn those early Vivienne Westwood ‘Destroy’ shirts, but they looked terrible on me. It looked like I was wearing flares on my arms.
Wearing only new clothes looks odd.
I like to mix vintage and new stuff. I wear clothes I bought new 30 years ago and vintage stuff that was made in the Fifties and still sees the light of day. I’ve remained the same size since I was a teenager just so I can wear all my great old stuff.
I’ve spent an absolutely ridiculous amount on clothes.
In the past I’d be stoned out of my mind, go shopping and spend a fortune. I’d buy three or four suits from Vivienne Westwood in one go – it was great. I don’t do it quite so much any more, but then I’m not as mad as I used to be.
They see me coming if I go shopping, and suddenly the price goes up.
So I have a lady called Gwen Mullen who does it for me – then I don’t have to spend quite so much money.
I used to pile the jewellery on in layers and cover my fingers in rings.
I wore pounds and pounds of the stuff. But now I just wear a couple of rings and the odd crucifix, partly because it’s a lot lighter to carry about.
Crucifixes are the only things I’ve worn consistently over the years.
Mine are custom-made by a chap called Robin The Hammer. He’s out of New York and he made all those ornate, almost Gothic pieces I used to wear from the mid-Eighties until the early Nineties.
I have a couple of tattoos.
The main one is of a comic strip-style superheroine called Octobriana, which I found in a book about Russian art students in the Sixties. She was this kind of Mata Hari figure who stood up for the pure principles of Marxist-Leninist communism.
For example, I look so absurd in bell-bottoms I could stop traffic in them.
My style used to be a mix between a punk and a teddy boy.
I’d have the hair made up into a quiff, with creepers, a drape coat, a pair of leather strides and a suitably offensive
T-shirt from Vivienne Westwood.
I don’t wax, but I do trim.
Recently I’ve had to regularly trim my nose hairs and look out for those white eyebrows that have the tensile strength of telephone cables. Then there’s the ear hair that goes down as well as up.
I lift weights and run every other day.
I’m trying to improve my energy levels to help me in my shows. As they say, the more you put in, the more you get out… Well, that’s what she said to me last night.
My style tip is: no matter what fashion dictates, to thine own self be true.
And it’s not an easy rule to stick by – it takes guts to be your own man.
‘The Very Best Of Billy Idol: Idolize Yourself’ is out on July 21. Billy Idol will be playing the Manchester Apollo on July 30 and London’s Brixton Academy on July 31.