Monday, 14 March 2011

Meeting Kylie in 2002

I never expected to meet Kylie. And never on the same day that my unauthorised biography of her was published. I just thought the chances of meeting her then or at anytime were pretty slim. And I really have Neil Rees to thank for making it possible.

Looking back on that evening now, I have to say it was one of the best nights of my professional life. Ever since Neil and I had met up in the early afternoon, I think we were both feeling slightly anxious whether Neil’s attempts to arrange for us to go backstage after the show and meet with Kylie would come off or not. We both hoped it would of course, but you can never tell how these sorts of things are going to work out.

Even if we’d had passes, there could still be any dozen of last minute hitches that could throw everything into disarray. In fact, we didn’t really know if we were going to get backstage until about halfway through the show when Neil got a text message on his mobile that instructed us to go to stage left after the concert. It was there that we were confronted by an NEC security guard who didn’t believe a word we were saying until Kylie’s manager Terry Blamey turned up to escort us backstage. I do wonder to this day, if Will Baker had anything to do with making sure it happened for us. He was in London working on the DVD documentary, and had in fact, just finished calling Neil on his mobile minutes before Neil and I met up in the hotel car park. It was either him, or as Will would say, ‘the divine and lovely Allison MacGregor from TBM’ with whom Neil had been in constant touch with throughout the day. Think I should explain here that there was an obvious highly valued opinion from Kylie and Terry for Neil’s Kylie expertise and for all the fine work he has done in supporting her through the years with the running of his Limbo website, and it’s because of that - by going with Neil to the concert (the last incidentally of the Birmingham shows) - that my chances of meeting Kylie was much higher.

Today when people ask me what was it like to meet Kylie Minogue, what was she like, and what was your impression, I always remember Elvis Presley at a press conference in 1972 saying that the image is one thing and the human being is another, and how hard it was to live up to an image. I think you can always be disappointed when you meet the image in real life. Most people who had met Kylie before told me to be prepared for how tiny she is – and she is. But meeting her was such a thrill, especially on the day Naked was published and I can honestly say that all my expectations were exceeded.

You have to remember that she had just finished a very physical two hour concert and I was quite prepared for her to be exhausted and for the meeting to last only a few minutes, like a quick hello. Neither were we sure that we would be able to sit and talk to her for any length of time because we thought there would be at least another dozen people or so wishing to do the same, or in the room with us at the same time. You can imagine it, can’t you, everyone firing questions at her, and frightening her off. But as soon as she walked into the dressing room that only we had been shown into - to wait for her to come along from wherever she was, she was fantastic. She was so unpretentious that it was just so refreshing to meet someone in show business that wasn’t over the top, and had, I thought, a very humble attitude. She’d changed out of her stage costume, obviously showered, had her hair tied back in a pony tail, and was wearing blue jeans and a pink jumper and looked more energetic than I or Neil most probably did. Something I did notice was how crystal clear her blue eyes were, more so than in any photograph I had seen of her, before or since. She seemed to be very concerned that we had enjoyed the show. And she was very easy to talk to for what seemed like a good thirty minutes or so. I know this sounds a bit of a cliché, but without stage make-up, and what she was wearing, she really did look like the girl-next-door. Quite plain, but very pretty. And certainly not like the icon we had just watched go through her paces.

For the life of me, I can’t remember every little detail of what we talked about, apart from one moment when I was talking about Locomotion, saying I was old enough to remember the original, and how her version of it was currently the most played track on my CD player, simply because I had, a few days earlier, picked up a cheap copy of the Mushroom25 issue of her Greatest Hits album. And I do remember her joking about it, about being relegated to the bargain basement. It was a bit like when you’re being interviewed for TV, if you don’t do it regularly, you come out with all sorts of crap, and immediately after I’d said about picking the CD up for £5.99, I wish I hadn’t!

One thing I do remember quite clearly though, before we were taken into the dressing room, we were sitting on some packing boxes (all marked with just the word ‘Kylie’) in another part of the backstage area, while crew and some folk from Parlophone were hanging round chatting, we hurriedly and nervously downed the bottles of ‘Kylie’ Evian water that we had been given thinking what we would say to her, and what do we do if the conversation dries up. Well, we needn’t have worried. The conversation flowed quite naturally between the four of us. Terry, who is just as delightful in person as his client, was also there joining in the conversation with us. I suppose it would best be described as a conversation you would have with a friend who you hadn’t seen for ages and were now catching up with all the latest gossip. Writing my book before meeting her, I hadn’t realised just how happy a pop star she really is, you know, she always has a smile, and a look of ‘isn’t this fun’, a kind of wink in her eye, and that’s exactly how she is. It was just one of the most refreshing meets I’ve had backstage, and totally relaxed and informal.