Sharleen Spiteri talks oral sex, gay strip clubs, Liz Hurley, Paris Hilton and a bad break-up
The ultimate expression of erotic narcissism for a pop star is possibly making love to one of their own records. Mercifully, Sharleen Spiteri - perhaps because she is a Glasgow born and bred - is not that sort of pop star. . . Be that as it may, the 47-year-old beauty recalls a fan once coming up to her and announcing, apropos of nothing, that Barbara Streisand's music is "really good to go down on someone to. And then he actually used the word 'cunnilingus'," she laughs.
"What was funny was he never said 'oral sex'. If he had said 'oral sex' I would have thought I don't know where you're going with this, with Barbara Streisand'. But it was the fact that he said 'cunnilingus'. Me and my pal were going, 'What century are you in?' Cunnilingus! It sounds like mushroom risotto! I was like - 'Is that the dish of the night?'"
Is that what her partner Bryn Williams - the dashing chef and proprietor of uber-chic Odette's in Primrose Hill - cooks for Sharleen of an evening? "No! I hate risotto!" she laughs.
Does Bryn wait on her hand and foot with gourmet food? "No, because he is always working. Beans on toast maybe! And that's me cooking it!"
Hilariously tongue-in-cheek joshing about mushroom risotto and her boyfriend Bryn aside, Sharleen turns fairly serious when talk turns to the painful break-up with Ashley Heath, the father of their now 12-year-old child, Misty. "My partner had a couple of affairs and I was completely oblivious to it," she told me, "until the newspapers turned up on my doorstep, with the photographs and chucked them in my face. That was a nice touch. I've since put a security gate on! But you know, it's fine. Things happen. Nobody died. For whatever reasons, things happen in couples' lives and that's the way it goes. And that's it."
How long did it take Sharleen to become philosophical about what happened?
"Very fast, because I had a one-year-old daughter. And when you have a kid, it is really…you know, I am quite direct like that. I was like, 'Ok, I'm not happy about this, but nobody has died, it is not that serious," she says calmly.
"You know, we had a great 10 year relationship. I've got a lovely kid. That's fine. Where do I go from here? And I was in a very different position, let's be honest, to a lot of people that this happens to, because financially I was completely secure. I wasn't suddenly thinking 'Oh my God, where am I going to live? What am I going to do? How am I going to support my child?' I didn't have any of those problems. So in all honesty, I was in a luckier position than most people are."
"But you know, it makes you question it. That's the only thing that it did do. It made me question a lot of things in my life. Because then you start back-tracking in your life."
"So then it puts a lot of doubt in your head about people's honesty. And that was my difficulty in coming to terms with that rather than anything else."
And how are you now?
"Oh, I'm so bitter," she jokes.
She swept into Independent News & Media's building on Talbot Street like a very stylish hurricane. Sharleen Spiteri is not someone you would forget in a hurry. Liz Hurley will perhaps never forget her.
After Hugh Grant's ex was allegedly rude to her at a dinner party in London a few years ago, the following morning in the Evening Standard, Sharleen didn't hold back on her opinions: "What's she famous for anyway? Wearing a dress with her tits hanging out? Well, she's a fat bitch and she can f*** off."
Sharleen says Liz invited her to dinner then acted like she didn't know who she was - a singer who has sold over 40 million records and is bessy mates with Gwynie, Stella and Madonna et al.
"Oh God. She was rude, very rude," Sharleen says of Liz. "Someone who was doing the party said 'Please come. We'd really like you to be there.' It was a bit of an effort for me to be there because I had been on tour and I was coming home that night. So I was sitting there chatting with David Collins, the interior designer - a lovely Irish man who we have since lost - and he was hysterically funny and we were having a great chat. Liz comes up and goes: 'David, darling.'"
"Now the woman had introduced me on stage a couple of months before at an Elton John thing and I had been at parties with her and stuff like that," Sharleen continues, "So when someone comes up to you and you know them, you look at them - I was looking at her like this," Sharleen says doing a nodding face, "smiling away and not saying anything. Then she turns to me and says:'And you are?' And that was it. I thought, 'No, seriously.' So the words came out as 'Who am I? Ali f**king Baba.' Then I turned away. She was horrified. Then I had a rant the next day because I was doing an interview. . . I don't like rude." Just ask Paris Hilton. In 2013, she stood repeatedly in her high heels on Sharleen and her friends' jackets at a party in London. When the Texas pop star told her to get off them, Paris acted like she was the Queen of Sheba. This was not a good move. "I filled my straw with my drink and I blew it. That got her attention. 'Have some manners,' I said. And she started with all her nonsense. So I said, 'F*** off or I'll kick the s*** out of you'.''
TV broadcaster Selina Scott must have felt a similar rush of Glaswegian warmth from Sharleen when she interviewed her back in the day and seemed to disbelieve her about her own child, "When you had your son . . . ." When Sharleen told her that again that she didn't have a child (this was years before Misty arrived), Selina, according to Sharleen, insisted, "Yes you do, I have it in my notes." Sharleen finally put Ms Scott straight in her own inimitable way: "Well, unless somebody f***ing drugged me, dragged me round about and has been bringing them up secretly, I haven't got a child."
It is no exaggeration that I could sit listening to Sharleen's stories all night - and right through to the morning. Every story out of her Glaswegian gob is a nugget. She doesn't do dull. She mentions the night she went to an amateur stripper night at a club in London but they wouldn't let her in because they told her it was a gay night. This wasn't sufficient to deter her. "I'm a lesbian icon," she told the bouncer - to which he replied, "I don't give a flying f*** who you are, you're not getting in, it's a gay night and you're not gay."
"How do they f**king know that? I could be in the closet!" she replied. As a child growing up in Glasgow, Sharleen says she was "quite quiet, believe it or not. I was a bit of a loner. I used to ride my bike. I was a bit of a geek."
How does geek loner become the lead singer of a band who have been going for 25 years and sells squillions of records?
"Because all musicians are geeks. You look back at the history and you soon realise that pretty much every musician I've ever met was a geek."
As a kid, she says, she wanted to be Elvis Presley, Steve McQueen, or more probably, Marlon Brando. "I loved movies. I think it was a comfort thing that started with my gran when I was a little kid;. I'd watch the Saturday afternoon movie with her and my mum. My father was at sea."
Is that where the loner side came from - because her dad was at sea as a merchant seaman? "No, I loved it. I used to love when my dad would go off to sea," she smiles, "because it was like big adventures and he would come home and tell us all these stories. I loved story-telling. My granddad used to go across to the bowling green because he had an allotment there. There's a bus stop and you had to tell the story of somebody coming off the bus - what their life was."
Is that where you developed your creativity and your sense of imagination?
"I think it was triggered from then."
Asked what she inherited from her parents, she says: "Reality. Manners. My mum and dad would kill me if I was rude."
I give her a look. "Yeah," she smiles. "I've got a bit of a gob on me. I say what I think and I'm very direct. But. . ." Sharleen laughs as the image of Liz Hurley's ashen face appears in my mind.
The Sunday Independent is media partner to the Killarney Festival of Music & Food on Sunday, 28th June, where Texas will be making their only Irish appearance to celebrate their 25th Anniversary and their new album 'TEXAS 25'. You can watch Barry Egan's interview with Sharleen Spiteri on independent.ie