a short site about The Divine Comedy

Divine Rapture

Watching David Bowie on television recently one couldn't help but think of Neil Hannon. Not that he is a musical "chameleon"—to use the phrase most often applied to Bowie—but he does seem to be a person more comfortable presenting to the world a series of ever-changing poses designed to conceal rather than reveal his "real self", as in vocally situating himself somewhere between Barry White and Prince on the magnificent Charge, or satirising—while still relishing—his role as the eponymous sexist hero in Becoming More Like Alfie. Strangely enough, Neil confesses that he was thinking something similar while watching Bowie being interviewed.

We're sitting in a bar in Liverpool Street station, a location to which Neil has kindly travelled in order to accommodate this interviewer, who must ride the rails to Stansted airport the moment the interview ends. As in his classic anthem, Middle Class Heroes it is "a dark and wintry day.".

Neil has two pints of Guinness, I stick with Jack Daniels and Coke. Beside me he places a bag from Desigmuseum which later turns out to contain a package of four multi-coloured inflatable "boiled egg holders" which he gives me as a present just before we part, claiming rather cryptically, "They'll come in really handy, you'll see.". Yes, he is that kind of guy. A real sweetheart. Or rather bitter-sweetheart. And one who's obviously struck a few chords with Hotpress to judge by The Divine Comedy's success in the 1996 poll.

J: So—No.1 album, No.1 songwriter, No.2 male singer, No.2 single for The Frog Princess and No.1 musician...

N: That's ridiculous! Best musician? I can't play for toffee! But well, what can I say? This is fantastic! (laughs). In the old days I never knew quite what I'd say at moments like this and now that it's come I still don't know what to say!

J: Well, aren't there some people you'd like to thank—your cat, whoever?

N: Oh yeah. (Adopts tones of mock humility) I'd like to thank my mom and dad. And of course God, for being omnipotent. But really I never thought it would be Ireland that would be first to go overboard.

J: Why not? Last time we talked, explaining why you hide behind "an exterior of melodrama and theatricality" you said, "That's the only way to go for a reserved Irishman like me!" and added, "Though I'm obviously more Anglo-Irish which gives the ironical, double edge to the work.". As such, isn't it to be expected that the Irish would be the first to "go overboard", for you?

N: Oh yes. Well,I guess I was wrong in my rather hasty assertion that I didn't think the Irish would be the first! And maybe those are some of the reasons. But winning all these sections in that poll is definitely evidence of a section of the Irish people going overboard, don't you think? I accept all you say but, even so, part of me somehow feels guilty about this sort of thing.

J: Is there a part of you that questions the validity of winning such polls, says "Well the choices can't have been many this particular year"?

N: Oh no, I believe in them absolutely. At least when I'm at the top of such polls, as in this Hotpress poll, whereas the MM poll was rigged, obviously! But seriously, we do seem to have done quite well, in that we've made it to the top of quite a few sections, which means we didn't just win one section because, as you say, the choice may have been limited. So this is fantastic. I love you all!

J: When you say "we" why is that, and who else are you referring to?

N: When I say "I" it leaves me too vulnerable! So "we" is The Divine Comedy, which I am very much a part of, but with which other people are also associated to varying degrees. As in the other five members of the core band, at the moment: Joby Talbot, piano; Brian Mills, bass; Ivor Talbot, guitar; Nicky Barradis, drums; and Stuart Pinkiebits on Hammond organ. And they, I'm sure, will be really pleased with the poll results. But I, myself, am slightly bemused because it just feels—well, I don't really know how I feel. If there is an awards ceremony maybe I'll know how I feel by then.

J: Who would you place at the top of all the categories you won in the Hotpress poll?

N: Best album? Oh god, I really can't think of one right now. But something I really played a lot last year was an avant-garde jazz album, with John Coltrane and some trumpeter or another, a 60's album? Single? Born Slippy by Underworld. I've been playing that incessantly. Best male singer and best musician, can I get back to you on that? And as for songwriter, I like that geezer from Babybird. I think he writes a good tune, but a better lyric.

J: Some might say that you, on the other hand, write better tunes than lyrics.

N: (pause) Well, I generally am more happy to congratulate myself about a tune than I am about the lyrics. This is not to say the lyrics are not important. They are. In fact, lyrics and music are inseparable, to me. There's no point in writing lyrics without music. That's why I wouldn't like my words to be read as poetry—because without the music they appear meaningless, lose all the twists and turns. The music, to me, forms a great part of the meaning in a song.

J: As in the layers of irony you add to songs on Casanova such as The Frog Princess where you include a piss-take on the French national anthem?

N: Exactly. And a lot of people seemed to miss that aspect of the album. Especially when they reduce a song to a few lines from a lyric and say "This is what the song means.". That's very dangerous! Particularly with my songs, where it usually takes listening to the whole album to even begin to understand where the song is coming from. Indeed, looking at a couple of lines from the lyric is futile, really, though you do see that happening time and time again.

J: Nevertheless, although you have previously argued that songs on Casanova shouldn't be judged outside the context of that song cycle, something like The Frog Princess still was voted the second best single of the year in this poll.

N: Well I'm happy they voted for The Frog Princess and not Something For The Weekend because I think The Frog Princess is a better statement, in total, better formed. Though out of the album context it can appear peculiarly misogynistic and violent, as Stella Martin, from Norwich, wrote to tell me. She said "I don't know what you had to go through to write such vengeful, anti-women propaganda. You are just urging young men towards rape.". and stuff like that. And I just thought, "Steady on!" (laughs self-consciously).

J: Well, heroes of the middle class must face up to their responsibilities—to paraphrase another of your songs. So, can you accept that you may have been at least partly responsible for firing such fears in that woman's mind? Or, indeed in writing a line like "Everybody knows that no means yes" in Becoming More Like Alfie, even if it was ironic?

N: Yes I can. But that's definitely not what I set out to do with a song like Becoming More Like Alfie, which does satirise the kind of male who sees women that way. And I really have been thinking of how I can counter this argument. In terms of The Frog Princess, for example, the fact is that if I was gay I could write as evil a song about a fellow man and call him a Frog Prince. I don't think it matters, either way, whether the subject of the song is a frog prince or frog princess. Likewise, if I were a woman I could write equally vengeful things about men, or women.

J: Last time we talked you claimed that Becoming More Like Alfie was also "a dig at the laddishness in Britpop at the moment" claiming, for example, that "a lot of what comes out of the Gallagher twins' mouths is absolutely obscene, glorifying their own stupidity.". Such as Liam saying things like, "Every woman I meet is gagging for it.".

N: Yeah, but now I realise they always use that line to highlight such things about Oasis. But if you listen to their songs, they often go quite deeply into the female psyche and this is something I am really curious about.

J: Surely the point is that it is Liam who makes those comments about women "gagging for it" whereas Noel writes the songs?

N: That is true. And I remember that Noel said that Liam gets all these 16 year olds with big, huge breasts, gagging—going after him. Whereas there are always these fucked-up 25 year olds who want him as an artist.

J: So what kind of women do you attract, if there is a type?

N: Deranged French females. Though that was a while ago. I've had a few deranged English women since then. But then I am suitably deranged myself.

J: So do you agree that you create love songs for similarly "deranged" or neurotic people, to a degree?

N: Yes. But they're not so much love songs for neurotics, as love songs for people who can't quite work out what love is, or how to love. Who want to be in love but don't really know how to go about it. And, if they did experience it they didn't know what it was, at all!

J: Such as yourself?

N: Probably, yes.

J: But you obviously know how to fuck. In fact, the last time we talked you said you were looking forward to the tour "with bated breath" to further explore the capacity to "pull" that came with becoming a pop star.

N: (laughs) Oh God! How can I go around saying such things when I should know, by now, that they will be held against me in the future? Yes, that is what happened. And I certainly was open to exploring those experiences during the tour, and before that. But, now, I'm more open to exploring them in terms of getting something right and maybe having a relationship rather than just writing a song about it, which is what I have done too often in my life. And that is destructive, to always be looking at your personal life in the sense that you might end up writing a song about whatever experience you are going through. I never really liked that tendency in myself. And, in a way, Casanova and the new album is about me dipping my toe into such areas, then my whole leg, then dragging myself out again! As in , revealing my quite personal emotional life along these lines. But there is only so much of myself I can put in there, before it gets too hot!

J: Hot for who?

N: Me! As much as I feel I owe something to my fellow man, in that I have this talent to write songs, I believe I can turn on my fellow man/woman without having to write too in-depth about myself.

J: One could also say that your fear of writing too "in-depth" about yourself has led you to produce merely a succession of musical poses, shifting shadows that slide in and around various personae, as in Bowie's career. And as was obvious from all those television shows around his 50th birthday.

N: I watched those shows and was thinking "I don't want to end up doing that all my life.". And I don't. But all the characters I use on my albums are me, basically.

J: But in some songs all we see is the toe, as you said!

N: Yes, but in others it's full-frontal nudity!

J: But what is your fear of self revelation, in a total sense?

N: The fear that no-one will ever want to talk to me again. Particularly if I write a song about them.

J: But is it also a fear of writing a song about your "real" self, because this, too, might turn people off?

N: As I say, I have gone pretty deep, so it's not that fear, totally. Though that does, of course, enter into it. It's more that once you've written a song from that angle it's like that's all you're going to get, or give to listeners and this can become terribly boring. And I think it would tell me as much about myself to write an album about teapots and other culinary items as it would to write about love and sex and stuff like that.

J: But you also have admitted that you had a morally restricted upbringing because you are the son of the bishop of Clogher. Does this make you draw back from disclosing things more directly because you don't want to embarrass your father, whatever?

N: Well, if I haven't embarrassed him by now, I don't know how I will!

J: Yeah, but you did say that when you played Casanova with its far-from-subtle in-out-in-out imagery in the song In And Out In Paris And London, you weren't sure how much of the innuendo he got.

N: Oh, he got it alright! And his final view was, "Well, obviously you have a very different way of expressing love for a fellow human being than, perhaps, I would. That is your prerogative, son.". And that was very understanding of him, as far as I could want him to go. And he's actually happy that the black sheep of the family has come good!

J: But where did all this begin? Can you identify the root of your belief in aesthetics, the root of your romanticism?

N: Probably, yeah. When I saw the Merchant Ivory movie A Room With A View. E.M. Forster changed my life beyond all recognition, really. Without A Room With A View I'd probably never have written anything I've written. And it was the film, because books were virtually inaccessible when I was 16. But after seeing the movie I read everything by Forster. And now I realise it was exactly what I was looking for on a cultural level, because my life, at the time, was shaped by the A-Team, Knight Rider and Nik Kershaw, which is not much to build on as a romantic, is it? I knew there was something out there, but I wasn't sure what it was, until I saw that film. Before that I'd been almost totally stifled by the very conservative nature of life in school, where I'd preach socialism and talk about a united Ireland, partly to go against that conservatism. Preaching about those things in a right-winged unionist school, at 14, 15, was pretty unusual, to say the least! But the world really was opened up to me by Forster.

J: As in a world where rich people piss all over poor people? How did that square with your "socialism" at the time?

N: Oh I never made that leap, linking the two.I was never very good at lateral thinking. I didn't really associate to anything solid, just knew it was where I wanted to go. Because it was all about living life as art, rather than just living life to get through another day. That's what hooked me. And I remember after seeing the film for the first time, at 16, with my then girlfriend, we went and sat, romantically, on the pier looking out into the lake in Enniskillen. I was getting quite passionate and she was almost saying, "You've changed! What's all this then? You're grabbing my tit!" But, whatever my response, I really was transported by that movie.

J: Did your discovery of Scott Walker, Jacques Brel and Michael Nyman have a similar effect on you? And, while we're on the subject, is it true that you sat in a chair in a recording studio all one day hoping to get impregnated by Scott, who'd sat in that same chair a week before?

N: I did sit in the chair that he'd sat in the week before. But there was no pregnancy attempt.

J: But would you like to be impregnated by Scott?

N: No. Because I'm too young to get pregnant. I don't want to be pregnant by anyone. And, to answer your original question, yes, I did find the same sense of transcendence in Scott's music, then Brel. Brel really was "the key"—as Scott himself said—in terms of writing songs. He was able to take the gritty nuts and bolts of life and put it all in such a dramatic way it became populist while remaining hyper socio-realistic. But, at the same time, he was the most sentimental writer in the world! "To dream the impossible dream"? Come on! As for Scott, his influence is very much there on my work, on a vocal and orchestral level. And in terms of the melancholic airs, maybe more than the subject matter itself. Because his thing, on those early albums, was "She's gone and I'm depressed", whereas I don't like to dwell on all that. The stuff I do is deadly serious but also extremely amusing at the same time.

J: What was it about Nyman?

N: Again, that happened because of a movie. I saw Drowning By Numbers and fell in love with it because of Nyman's music. Then I got his soundtrack for The Draughtman's Contract and played it to death, basically, because I was so astonished that you could use instruments to such contemporary effect. He knew that the tune is all you need and just to pump that out at top speed, then, as soon as you're finished with that, jump quickly to another tune. He'll also have a countermelody, which is very simple but forceful, and was just the kind of thing I needed to know about in order to compose my own stuff. As with all these people, I'm after the same thing they are. There is something Scott had on the back of Scott4, which is a line from Camus. It's about constantly trying to remember, or conjure up, the same emotion that opened up your senses to some amazing beauty, something like that.

J: That quote actually is "A man's life is nothing but a slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those one or two great and simple images in whose presence his heart is first opened.".

N: That's it! And that is exactly what I am trying to do, in the same sense that I was opened up to such experiences through the movie A Room With A View and people like Scott. Those moments of purity are what it's all about, but reconnecting with all that gets more difficult as time goes on.

J: Your original work, as well as the new albums, may serve a similar purpose for some fans out there, who are still discovering The Divine Comedy. So how do you rate those first two early albums, Promenade and Liberation? Describe the evolution between those and the new album.

N: Well those early albums are a work of genius, obviously! And people who haven't heard them should rush out and but them, immediately. Liberation first, though in the space of a week you're not going to get that sense of evolution people will get who have been with those albums all along. but I certainly can't allow myself to disassociate myself from anything since Liberation as that's where I decided I knew exactly what I wanted to do. And each album is complete, I wouldn't change in any way. (Picks up cd cover of Liberation) But when I look at this I really do see all these songs grabbing for that mysterious feeling we talked about earlier. Though I do think Your Daddy's Car is the most finished and polished. But, as far as that early 20's instinctive stuff goes, The Supernaturalist is probably more in keeping with that. It's definitely that stripping away of the awful mundanities of everyday life and searching for something higher. As for Promenade, when I look at that I realise that, increasingly, I drifted away from the fsthete I was. (Reaching for cd cover) This album is so arrogant it's unbelievable! And I really have tried to temper that arrogance, as in, say, when we are booed by Supergrass fans at a concert, I really do seem to automatically believe "the fools" and that everyone, eventually, will come around to seeing how good The Divine Comedy is! It's the same with this album. What age was I when I wrote it, 23? Surely the fact that you think you can do the musical equivalent of Ulysses at 23 is exceedingly arrogant. Though, of course, with this album, I obviously succeeded! But that is part of reaching for "the impossible dream", extreme arrogance, bordering on madness.

J: Okay, let's look a the new album, A Short Album About Love. Is there anything there that could be described as a love song in the old sense?

N: I'm not sure what the "old" sense is.

J: Romance without cynicism, or, rather, 20th century realism.

N: I don't think there is one song like that, no. If there is, it's Someone. But even in that, it comes from the position of cynicism because it's "Someone I once knew/ Told someone like you/ Love is just a word." In other words, I told you that, but now I'm not so sure that's true. I hadn't ever really discussed it with myself but the more I did the more it seemed to make no sense—this whole idea of love. And I was very upset by that because love was basically what I was all about! So, this album is about really, really wanting to love and getting glimmers of that but just not being able to go for it, in its totality. And Casanova, obviously, wouldn't have been able to deal with that theme, so I kept these songs for this album.

J: But some, apparently, were written before Casanova.

N: Well, yes, If I Were You is the oldest track on the album, apart from Timewatching. And the rest was written at least a year ago. But then that is what happens when you are a busy pop star! Yet I think a track like Timewatching is perfect in this context. I don't think it was done right before. That's why I am extremely pleased with the album, even though, in truth, it probably is more of a sketchbook than anything else. And not necessarily a sketchbook that would lead to a finished canvas. Though, in saying that, I'm not trying to make excuses for the album. I wouldn't put it out if I thought it was anything less than perfect, in itself! I desperately desire never to do that.

J: So why is it "a short album" about love, running at no more than 32 minutes?

N: There were songs I could have put on it, but they weren't good enough and I do think this is really all that was needed, for what I had to say on the subject, right now. But I really, really do have a big problem with this whole question of love, which probably has to do with this thing of commitment which, itself, probably goes back to the fact that my parents have been together for, what, 30 years and still fancy each other as much as they ever did. In a way, I feel I have to match that, and haven't. And I don't think I ever could! If so, it would have to be someone incredible—well, basically, me in female form! (Laughs).

J: So why exactly, do you finally jump back from commitment in love affairs? Or why do they jump back? Because of your inability to commit? Your inability, basically, to love?

N: I'm sure it is that, yes. I can never—(pauses) I really don't want to say any of this stuff because it cuts quite deep. (Pause) It's like the first song on the new album, In Pursuit Of Happiness, which is saying "When I'm with you I'm pretty happy, so why can't I stay with you for the rest of my life?" Answer: because I refuse to accept that I have to be changed by any one person, apart from myself, or my art. But having said that, I would have to add that I hope that if someone did come along I'd realise that it's not the case.

J: But what if someone asked you to give up your art?

N: I wouldn't because if I did I would cease to be. Cease to be me.

J: So, then, can you really say you have been truly in love, as in willing to sacrifice everything for one other person?

N: I think I was, yes. But we were, equally, unable to accept that.

J: What? The intensity of feeling?

N: Well, in that sense maybe me more than her. But then the intensity of feeling didn't translate to the bedroom, which is always a problem. And a question that concerns me is, can you actually have that intensity of feeling without sexual self-expression being a part of it all?I don't know that you can. Yet there's no doubt that when I wrote some of the lyrics on the new album I was in love. As in Someone. When I wrote those lyrics I was on a tour bus in Switzerland and I was under the influence of something.

J: Love or some substance imposed from without?

N: Who knows? (Laughs). Anyway, for the first time I'd ever experienced, I wrote those lyrics straight out like that. And even in this case I only managed half the song before I had to stop because it was too intense. But I did say what I felt and I shouted, "Joby, look what I've done!" and he just said "That's nice" and turned back to his arrangement. But I was quite astonished by what I'd written and sent those lyrics off, on a postcard, the next morning. And, of course, she didn't believe me!

J: But can you blame her, when direct self-expression obviously isn't a natural form of expression for you?

N: No. I don't blame her at all. And, like I told you before, writing songs, to me, is a way of finding out who you are. But maybe, in truth, I don't want to get to that point because I think if I did I'd just have to top myself! Or, I'd stop writing, which is the same thing as topping myself!

J: In a sense, you do risk topping yourself, romantically, on the new album with a song like If I Were You (I'd Be Through With Me) which is a hell of a warning to a would-be lover. Telling her to run like fuck, from involvement with you basically.
N: Yeah, but it's also a funny song because you know I don't mean it! In a way, in that song, I'm saying "I have so many faults, but they are quite endearing!"! But, seriously, I also do know myself well enough to say, "You will regret it if you get involved with me.". But the real point is that the truth is so difficult to pin down that black and white are equally truthful, which is why I put I'm All You Need right after If I Were You (I'd Be Through With Me). These may seem like completely conflicting statements, but I don't know which statement is totally true, if either can be, on its own.

J: Surely each is true for different moments.

N: Yes, and that's all there is to life: moments. And I am very pleased, and thankful, to be able to say that I was truly in love with someone. And, to go back to Timewatching, I did, long ago, think that to say "When I fall in love it will be forever.". was a devastating thing. But, even so, I did find myself able to write that on her copy of the album, once. "Will" as opposed to "might". Because that love did exist and, seeing as though we are forever living in the present, then that part of the past will always exist. Maybe it existed before I loved her as such, maybe it doesn't have to go on "forever". Maybe as long as it happens once, that is good enough. And, to tell you the truth, a lot of the intensity in that relationship came from the fact that we knew we eventually would have to part. We were on two different continents, basically.

J: So what are you saying here, that you still love this woman?

N: I do, yeah.

J: So the situation is hopeless? Might you get back together?

N: I don't think it's hopeless but I don't think we'll ever get back together. I think it's more full of hope for a fulfilling friendship!

J: At the end of the day, is this because of your failings, your inability to go as far as was maybe necessary in terms of commitment?

N: That was part of the reservation, on my behalf, that made her think "Hey, I'm young and I can't hang around until he reaches..."—whatever. I really don't know. But she also had a lot more living to do before she could commit. She was young, still a student.

J: So, when they get to the end of this song cycle, A Short Album About Love, what sense, fundamentally, do you want people to take from the album?

N:I really don't think there is much anyone can take from this album. There are no answers. And there are certainly no songs on this album I would recommend as a Valentine's gift to your lover.

J: Surely a line like "If you were a horse I'd clean the crap out of your stable." is perfect for, say, alternative Valentine cards? Maybe that's what all your songs are, alternative Valentine cards? Songs for lovers in the late 1990's rather than the late 1890's.

N: Maybe they are. And, in terms of the new album, in this context, I could say that people should listen to Liberation in the morning, Promenade at lunchtime and Casanova when you're preparing to go out in the evening. And then when you come home you listen to A Short Album About Love!

J: Why? Because you came home alone?

N: Yeah. And you listen while drinking a nice glass of port! But maybe it would be just as easy to listen to it with someone, as without. Either way, it does smack of reality. At that level, I am happy with the album. And the fact that I am rather disconcerted by the whole final section of this interview, where we talked about the album, does show that it obviously worked!

J: Why are you "disconcerted" by this interview?

N: Because you made me reveal that I have made terribly vain and relatively fruitless attempts to fall in love. I mean, it's bad enough having to talk to your mates about it in the pub, but having to talk to a journalist about it is worse. Particularly knowing that everything you said will be published!

Sex, Lies & Audiotape

J: The interview was over, the tape was turned off, both parties were relaxing. Even so, Neil was still a little worried about the fact that the final section of our talk "seemed quite down". Knowing he prefers to send people home singing after a show I decided to try to counteract his "dark mood" by allowing him a second shot at questions he'd previously answered in a megamix questionnaire but which I couldn't really read in the fax that had been sent to me for research.

J: So, when was "your first sexual experience"?

N: It also says here "this doesn't necessarily mean full intercourse". Then I guess it was while watching a Carry On movie and just hoping against hope that my parents weren't going to enter the room the one moment the bird actually got her tits out.

J: As in the moment when Barbara Windsor's bikini top flies off in Carry On Camping.

N: Exactly! And my parents never fail to come into the room at moments like that. They did it again this Christmas! I was sitting there watching a perfectly reasonable movie and the first time they popped their head around the door there was somebody being gang-raped, or something! But my first real sexual experience was at 16 and it wasn't very good, to say the least! I was actually 23 before I had done it to my satisfaction.

J: And to her satisfaction.

N: Yeah! She seemed to enjoy it! Next question? "What did you think the first time you saw a girl with her knickers down?" I can't remember what I originally said to that question. But don't women always wait until the lights are off before they take them down? It's that depressing female thing.

J: You, surely, do the same thing?

N: I certainly would not! I have all the lights on! And floodlights, Goddamn it!

J: Then what, you give out postcards afterwards saying "You were here."?

N: Absolutely. With a little map of the region. Doesn't every man do that? As in scaling the Eiger, north face! So, what did I think the first time I saw a woman with her knickers down?

J: This is what I've been dreaming of all my life?

N: Certainly not. Ladies with their knickers down are actually not wonderful looking. They're almost as bad looking as men in the same state. It's like an anti-erotic image, isn't it? I mean it's always such wiry fur! Ugh! Anyway, "What turns you on?" Transvestite dwarves wearing bondage gear and being flagellated by seven foot blonde goddesses in high heels, with a dog looking. Next question. "When was the last time you had sex?" This is outrageous! I can't tell you that!

J: Was it that long ago?

N: Quite, actually, it's wintertime, I don't like it in the winter! It was some time in November. Apart from that, I can't remember. "How long did it last?". Quite a good time. About fifty minutes, on the tour bus. "What would you regard as your specialist area? Foreplay, oral sex, whatever..." Oh yes, my answer to that was and is, aural sex!

J: Oral?

N: No. Let me spell that. A-u-r-a-l! I have no specialist area. I'm a Jack of all trades, master of none.

J: But willing to learn?

N: Oh I'll give it my best shot, sure! "Evidence of the above?" Give me your ear and I'll give you a little blast! "What is the best thing anyone has ever said to you in bed?" Oh yes, my original answer stands. That was, "I think that your forthcoming single, The Frog Princess is an obvious top ten smash!" But actually I think the best thing anyone has ever said to me in bed was, "I found it!" Next question. "Have you ever had a homosexual experience?" Well, like I said, I once kissed a girl with very short hair, does that count?!" That's about as far as I got.

J: Really, never thus inclined?

N: No. But I sometimes wish I was! "What do you think about while masturbating" Well, last night there were some particularly attractive waitresses in the restaurant I had dinner in and they entered into my thoughts at the time.

J: In the restaurant?

N: No! I didn't actually masturbate in the restaurant! I waited till I got home, to bed, alone! "If you could choose anyone in the world, who would you go to bed with?" Everyone! Please finish this sentence based on a real life experience: "Thanks for last night, I'd like to see you again but..." (Pause)

J: I just don't know how to love you?

N: Don't be outrageous! It says "based on a real life experience!" So, "I'd really like to see you again but—I'll be in Hamburg!" or somewhere a million miles away from wherever I am that night!

Joe Jackson
Hot Press 05/02/1997