Woman's Day ( Australia )
July 1989
Rock Star Wendy James
The Lady Is A Vamp
by Lesley-Ann Jones

[submitted by Justin Whyte]


Her outrageously sexy image helped get the band noticed but the peroxide blonde is a talented singer too!

Every decade or so a singing blonde bombshell comes along who actually has talent. In the 70's in was Debbie Harry, new wave sex kitten and lead singer of Blondie. Now in the 80's it's Wendy James, a 22 year old bleached popette from East Sussex, England with a nice smile who wiggles cutely in front of a line-up known as Transvision Vamp.

In Australia their singles like Tell That Girl To Shut Up, Sister Moon, I Want Your Love and their latest Baby I Don't Care are selling like hotcakes.

Already veterans of the club circuit, the group began their first major tour this year and performed to sellout shows around Australia last month.

But the lady wasn't always such a vamp. At the height of punk, when Debbie Harry was strutting the stage wearing little more than a man's shirt and a slash of red lipstick, a mousy haired Wendy was dumping her schoolbag backstage at the Glyndebourne Opera House after school and warbling solo in La Boheme for $6 a night.

It's hardly the conventional training for a pop singer. But Wendy thrives on being different. That way she manages to stand out in a crowd. She wears cut-off jeans, brown ankle boots and a very distressed leather jacket.

Debbie Harry she isn't. Debbie oozed effortless sex and floored men and women, without batting a charcoal eyelid. Wendy sweats blood to achieve the same effect. Nonetheless, she turns heads. Her wardrobe is certainly an eyebrow raiser. It was her outrageously sexy image that helped get the band noticed in the first place.

Wendy recalls how she left home at 16 because she was cramping her parents style, and they hers. While studying for exams at college, she supplemented her allowance singing the blues in wine bars and was snapped up by guitarist Nick Christian Sayer, later her partner in the Vamp.

Today, Transvision Vamp are a competent live act, which is more than can be said for many chart-toppers who are invented in the recording studio and are afraid to leave it incase the public find out they can't really play after all.

Wendy is suitably scathing. " I can't put up with trivia when there's real music to be had, made by bands who cut their teeth playing live," she snaps.

She is far from coy about her private life, and her on again off again affair with 32 year old Roland Rivron, a British TV chat show host, is tempestuous.

On the subject of fame, Wendy is forthright. "Fame is an utter perversion she insists, "Anyone who craves adulation of from complete strangers feeding off people they have never met must have a problem."

So why bother? Wendy reckons that her own personal search for stardom was triggered by the fact she's adopted.

"I used to think I was pretty normal with a stable childhood behind me. But now I am not so sure," she says. Not that there was anything wrong with her adoptive parents, she points out.

"They always gave me everything they had and put up with me smashing up my bedroom because nobody 'understood me'. I suppose I started to realize I had a problem when I began to feel that whatever I achieved wasn't enough for them."

Then almost subconsciously, she pouts, and a waiter trips and lands a tray of drinks in an American lady's lap. Perhaps she does have more in common with Debbie Harry than musical talent after all.

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