She dreams of sharing a house in the country with her boyfriend and lots of dogs, but Kylie’s urge to perform is as strong as when she first became a star more than 23 years ago. In this exclusive interview, she tells Jane Gordon why she’s not ready to stop performing just yet.
Kylie Minogue has the strange distinction of being both larger and smaller than life. Watching her sit down at the vast refectory table in the London offices in which we meet I am struck by her extraordinary presence but aware, too, that her tiny feet don’t quite touch the ground. It’s difficult to imagine how someone so very small (she claims to be 5ft 1inch but her sister Dannii says she is ‘actually 5ft’) has the power to move huge stadium audiences and achieve global success – with 68 million record sales – in a career that she has sustained for more than 23 years.
‘I’ll be the one in the old people’s home doing high-kicks in the corner. There is an inherent part of me that says, “This is what I do, this is who I am.” I just can’t stop – it’s difficult to subdue a performer’s instinct,’ she says, illustrating her point by pulling herself up off the chair and demonstrating the move.
Kylie may be a tireless performer but today there are telltale signs of fatigue on her lovely face. The morning after an impromptu late-night pub performance that finished at 3am, she is far from flawless, with dark shadows under clearly tired eyes. In photographs – particularly the shots for her latest number-one album Aphrodite – she appears no older, and a good deal more beautiful, than she did when she first entered the public consciousness as Charlene in the Australian soap Neighbours back in 1986. But those images – as she is quick to point out – are achieved through clever lighting, subtle make-up and a degree of airbrushing.
‘You know what? I want to look as good as the pictures I see in magazines, but it’s not going to happen. This is how it has always been, and this is how it will always be. We are all smart enough human beings to know that the images we see in magazines or on album covers aren’t real. The fact is that we don’t want to see imperfections, we don’t want to see reality. If I watch a Marilyn Monroe movie I want to see her looking stunning, and in those days it was probably worse than it is now because they actually retouched the negatives so that no bad pictures could ever be seen. I grew up admiring those idealised images, and those women were Barbie dolls compared to what we are looking at today,’ she says in a spirited defence of her own highly glamorised publicity pictures.
There is, though, an unfortunate backlash from those photos of an eternally youthful Kylie. Although she has long since abandoned Botox and denies having had surgery (she insists that she wouldn’t go under the knife because you are ‘not yourself if you do that’), she is constantly being scrutinised for face-lift scars, and jokes that ‘I have got my hair down for a good reason today’.
If she does look a good ten years younger than her 42 years, it is down to good bone structure, good genes and – she admits with a broad smile – her relationship with 32-year-old Spanish model Andrés Velencoso Segura. Her boyfriend of two years is flying in to spend the weekend with her amid rumours that he is about to propose. (She says he hasn’t done so yet, she doesn’t know if he will and ‘it doesn’t matter’, although I suspect it does). He is, she says, intelligent, laid-back and mature.
‘I don’t ever think about the age gap between us. It doesn’t exist unless I say something like, “Do you remember that song from the summer of 93?” and he says, “No”, and I think, “Is that because you are Spanish or because you were still at high school then?” I would say that compared to previous relationships, he is very level-headed, not up and down. I am up and down, so it’s good to have someone who is very steady, very consistent. It’s great.’
The couple met when Andrés appeared in an ad for her male fragrance Inverse in late summer 2008, and what started as a fling has turned into her most serious relationship to date. (Andrés recently commented, ‘I’ve found a woman who loves me, and I love her. Happy, that’s how I feel.’) Kylie has visited Andrés’s home town of Tossa de Mar, a seaside resort north of Barcelona, and has met his father, and Andrés has been down to Melbourne to meet her family. Kylie has even embraced Andrés’s great love of sport, accompanying him to a Barcelona-Arsenal football match earlier this year.
‘I was a fan of Barcelona before I met Andrés – my ex, Olivier, got me into football. I don’t want to get into trouble with Arsenal fans, but Messi is one of the best players in the world and watching him score four goals in a match was very cool.’
Kylie is, you suspect, one of those women who takes on every aspect of her new boyfriend’s life, and with Andrés that has even involved an attempt to play golf (she rolls her eyes when I mention this). ‘I have played some golf, but I am now in semi-retirement,’ she deadpans. ‘I did appreciate the challenge of it, but he is so passionate and so good at it that in the end I was more of a caddie than a player. I don’t have the physical strength to drive the ball very far. But hey – he can drive the ball 400 yards and I can do the splits, so it’s a fair deal,’ she says with a grin.
Andrés’s absorption into the Minogue clan has also involved a degree of bonding with Kris Smith – the father of Dannii’s baby Ethan – who has become his new golf and gym partner. Kylie has always remained very close to her family – her parents Ron and Carol, her brother Brendan, 39, and her sister Dannii, 38 – and is now a devoted aunt to her three nephews.
‘Ethan’s arrival has added another facet to my relationship with Dannii. She sent me a picture of him this morning in his new baby outfit and he is adorable. I adore all my nephews. I Skype Charlie [four] and James [two] all the time, and Charlie is like my little prince, I am just crazy about him. I am so crazy about them all that it makes me wonder what the love is if you have your own child – how much more love is it possible to feel?
‘If I don’t have children I will at least be able to invest that love in my nephews. We share some of the same DNA – I wonder what attribute they will say, “Oh, that’s Auntie Kylie” about? Charlie is quite a performer already, he has got Minogue genes for sure. And oh my god, Ethan – I had cuddles with him and he is lying on my chest and I can hear his little breath snuffling and the smell… beautiful… BEAUTIFUL!’ she babbles enthusiastically.
Kylie makes no comment other than a shrug when I gently ask if she has any plans to have a child of her own, but the Les Folies tour – which is scheduled to start next February and for which she is already rehearsing – makes the idea seem unlikely, particularly as she is still taking medication following her treatment for breast cancer in 2005. The medication – which continues for five years after treatment – has troubling side effects, including nausea and headaches.
‘Trust me, I have been in floods of tears at my oncologist, saying, “I can’t stand it, get me off this stuff”, and then he will become very stern and say, “We have to cure you”, so you have to carry on with it because it works. I will finish early next year, and that will be amazing, but I’ve also heard that you can feel quite insecure when you first come off it because you have relied on this medication for so long. It’s going to be a big adjustment,’ she says, suddenly sombre.
Kylie believes that her work – along with the love and support of her family, her friends and her fans – has been a big part of her recovery even though her swift return to touring raised a few eyebrows at the time.
‘Work was a big part of my recovery. Even as I was going through treatment I would be fantasising – well, maybe not so much fantasising as projecting – about the Showgirl Homecoming tour. I had to do it – I don’t know what else I would have done. I don’t know how other people manage, but as I went through the treatment, I would try to concentrate on the future. You lie there and you think, “When this is over…”.’
There was much talk, in the wake of Kylie’s successful cancer treatment, about the ‘Kylie Effect’, with breast screenings in Australia leaping 101 per cent following her diagnosis. But the Kylie Effect didn’t begin – or end – with her cancer; it has been with us throughout her career. Every change of hairstyle, every outrageous new outfit, every promotional video has caused a chain reaction around the world.
In fact, almost everything Kylie does produces an effect, most famously with sales of Pond’s Cold Cream soaring after she mentioned she used it (these days she prefers creams from the Organic Pharmacy). But while the Kylie Effect might prompt us to change our hair, have a breast screening or use a different face cream, it has never had a corrupting effect on the young in the way that her former producer Mike Stock alleges artists such as Britney Spears and Lady Gaga have done.
‘I am a massive fan of Gaga, she is amazing. But there are some videos out there that don’t appeal to me because they are crass. I suppose I do portray myself in a certain way, but I try and do it where there is an elegance to it. I don’t do tacky.’
Some of the outfits she wears may be a little risqué, but Kylie is not going to give up the occasional pair of hotpants or the thigh-high red studded Louboutin boots she wears in her latest video anytime soon, even if – as she happily admits – she is a few pounds heavier than she was at the beginning of her career.
‘I’m not 19 years old – as I was when people first got to know me – so yes, I am going to look older, yes, I am going to have good days, yes, I am going to have bad days and my body has changed. They say at a certain point in her life a woman has to choose between her face or her body, so a few extra pounds is good.’
Performance will be central to her life for the foreseeable future, but there are vague plans, too, to direct, to write a musical and to learn to speak Spanish (so she can converse with Andrés’s family). Does she harbour any other dream? ‘One of these days I am sure I will have a house in the country like grown-ups are supposed to have, with lots of dogs running around. One of my ideas of heaven would be a place where you have to wear wellingtons – because that means you are in the country or the outback,’ she says with a wistful expression on her face.
So would Andrés like a house in the country with lots of dogs too?
Source: Daily Mail