Me in my theatre days    

Theatre played an enormous part in my early years. I was a professional actress for six years in my twenties, playing parts from Shakespeare to Shaw to Peter Shaffer, mainly in small repertory theatres, and I appeared on TV. Those acting days provided magic and inspiration, releasing me from the restrictions of my own personality through fantasy and the adrenalin of performing.

My very first job was no exception: it was an experimental theatre company that toured schools and youth clubs – this was a very experimental era in the arts. The plays we performed were intended to break down all inhibitions.

I particularly remember one about Joan of Arc, set in the modern day, performed in the round at a youth club in one of the quieter backwaters of the Southern Counties. The place was full of young testosterone-driven skinheads who clustered around me as I begged them (as Joan) to listen to my voices. In order to show the shortcomings of the modern age and its preoccupation with sensation and sex, the rest of the cast then had to start chanting ‘Get ‘em off!’ working this up to a rhythmic beat which gradually developed into a threatening chant of ‘Rape!’ It grew louder and louder as the entire audience of teenage boys picked it up and suddenly they all surged towards me. At the last minute, one of the more muscular actors in the company snatched me up and we all ran from the building and fled up the road.

This was a decidedly dodgy moment and we never took those sorts of risks again, but it taught me that sexual energy is a powerful force and can be used to manipulate people. Each of us must develop our own inner controls and sense of direction.

  A great awakening happened when I joined the National Tour of ‘Hair’ in the early 70s and it left an indelible impression. After much agonising I appeared naked on stage for the first time and unexpectedly found it most liberating. I experienced fervently the vision behind this musical about an alternate society and every night I allowed the music and movement to express my deepest

feelings– from the opening bars of ‘The Age of Aquarius’, to the heart lifting ecstasy of ‘Let the Sun Shine In’, when the audience, North Country wives and beer bellied husbands for the most part, were moved beyond their everyday selves and flooded onto the stage to dance with us.

We really believed we had found the philosophy of sexual freedom but years later I can look back and see that I, and other women of my generation, had hardly begun to find their own sexual centres. Still, it was a powerful beginning – a sort of fertilisation, which was followed, for me, by a long gestation period of creative aridity and depression. It would be a long time before the little girl, peering through the bars at the powerful lion could finally lose her fears, climb upon a tiger’s back and ride him.

 

A few years later I decided to revert to my first love – painting. My first professional job was to illustrate a children’s book, entitled ‘Beyond the Midnight Mountains’, written by my husband Frank Charles. I then found my way into painting portraits of stage actors. West-End and Broadway shows became my subject matter and I also did a series of posters of well-known film icons for the Vintage Magazine Shop. There were calendars too, one of which depicted the wedding of Charles and Di, but don’t worry, I’m not going to show you that one!. As the 80s unfolded, a completely new phase opened up for me and I found a new direction in erotic illustration. That was when the adventure really began.