Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.
December 9, 1971, Vol. XVI, No. 49
Easy, medium, & tough
By Arthur Bell
Twiggy is a dear, skinny, pretty, vapid little girl. She is not shy. She is not bright. She is not talented. She is not consistent. In fact, what she is not is far more interesting than what she is. For what she is, is not very interesting.
She came to town last week to meet the press. It is her first trip to New York in four years, and her first outing as a movie star. She is in Ken Russell’s “The Boy Friend,” in which she sings and dances and acts.
According to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, she has never sung or danced or acted before, “but has trained intensively in all three arts in the six months prior to shooting.” Trouper Twiggy, in a moment of enlightenment, told the press that “acting is difficult. I never studied it. Singing is not as hard as I thought. Dancing is hard.”
Twiggy came to town with her real life boy friend, a stocky, bearded ex-hairdresser who wears Little Lord Fauntleroy suits and goes under the name Justin de Villeneuve, ostensibly because it’s easier to pronounce than Nigel John Davies. Nigel, or Justin, discovered Twiggy when she was a teenage manicurist. Twiggy doesn’t wear nail polish. Justin saw her potential. He made her a model. She rose rats. The world, fickle as it is, was in want of something thin and Anglo-Saxon, after Sophia, and Twiggy was it. At 17, she was Britain’s most photographed young mannequin, while Justin was Britain’s most wealthy ex-hairdresser. They met Princess Margaret. They rode in airplanes. They let others trim their hair and cut their nails. Life was a round of Harper’s Bazaar and Paris Match and you know how boring that is. So Twiggy retired at 19. For two years, she knitted a lot and went shopping and saw friends. And you know how boring that is. But that was yesterday, and it’s all over with now. Twiggy is back, and we’re waiting for “The Boy Friend” with bated breath.
While we’re waiting, wise Twiggy is displaying her flawless face and branchlike body to the press in Cleveland and Toronto and Boston and Philadelphia and San Francisco and Los Angeles, all in one whirlwind week. Here’s how she did with the press at the Pierre Hotel in New York. We’ll start with the easy questions.
Q: How did you get the name Twiggy?
A: Justin gave it to me.
Q: Is it true that you spend six hours each day on your eye makeup?
A: Six hours! It used to be an hour and a half. Now I spend about 10 minutes.
Q: How did you bust get bigger (from 31 to 32)?
A: I don’t know. It just happened.
Q: What is it that you eat?
A: Oh, blimey, fish and chips. No red meat. I basically hate the thought of eating animals.
Q: Do you have any fur coats?
A: Well, yes. I had one made up three years ago. It’s snakeskin with a fox fur collar. I’m ashamed of myself.
Q: How do you feel about Women’s Lib?
A: I believe in it, you know.
Q: Are you consciously imitating Garbo?
A: She’s one of my favorite ladies. Not consciously.
Q: Who is your favorite movie personality?
A: Fred Astaire, he’s great.
Q: Do you date a lot?
A: I only go out with Justin.
Q: Have you ever met the Queen?
A: No, I haven’t, actually.
Q: Who did your clothes for “The Boy Friend”?
A: Sally Russell. She’s great. She’s a good friend of mine.
Q: Would you do a nude sequence now that you’re a movie star?
A: Personally, never. I’d be terribly embarrassed. Certainly not out of pride or anything. I just couldn’t do it.
Q: Do you enjoy having lots of money now?
A: It’s nice. I go shopping. If I see a dress I like, I buy it. I have a car and Justin has his own car.
Q: How much money did you make for “The Boy Friend”?
A: I can’t answer that. It’s a tax matter.
Q: Have you ever wanted to lose your accent?
A: I wouldn’t go to a school to try to change it.
Q: Were there any embarrassing moments on the set? Do you get embarrassed easily?
A: I can’t remember any. If let embarrassed when I heard the tapes of me singing.
Q: In the future would you like to be a housewife, to retire and have kids?
A: I hate housework. I can’t cook. I like kids.
Q: What directors would you like to work with?
A: I haven’t met many. I don’t know.
Q: Define Ken Russell’s special directorial touch.
A: He’s really great for me. Really helpful. He talks about a scene before we do it. He says “do it as you feel.” If he likes it, okay. If he doesn’t, we do it over.
At this point, the questions really got tough, and Nigel, pardon, Justin de Villeneuve, took it upon himself to answer for Twiggy. While he spoke, Twiggy stroked her hair, played with her left kneecap, made funny faces, looked around the room, and giggled.
Q: Does Polly Browne in “The Boy Friend” talk like Twiggy?
A: Ken Russell’s concept of “The Boy Friend” is a play within a film. It’s a chance for Twiggy to be herself.
Q: Does Twiggy have any future film plans?
A: We have something lined up — a light Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire type musical called “Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance.” It’s a very glamorous ’30s type film. It’ll be very unreal in a different surrealistic kind of way. It won’t be heavy.
Q: Is “The Boy Friend” a heavy musical?
Twiggy’s boy friend slides into an elementary discussion of the difference between a light and heavy musical, putting down nothing by name, of course, like “Hello, Dolly” and “Paint Your Wagon.” The press conference ends with Twiggy playing to a house of about 50 per cent of the reporters who had come to cover the special event. It was evident that the event needed a good tree surgeon. Or a high grade of manure with humus. Or Sophia Loren or something.
[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]