Kylie Minogue has nothing to prove. She’s the sweetheart of just about every nation in the world. Countless European tabloid covers have devoted serious headline space to her romance with Italian pin-up Andrés Velencoso, 10 years her junior. The mini-divinity has not one, but five fragrances. She was even honored with the prestigious Order of the British Empire and the French Order of Arts and Letters. So why, exactly, has Minogue’s career not taken off Stateside? Maybe it’s because she hasn’t toured in North America since first chugging along to “The Loco- Motion” in 1987. Even Neighbours, the TV soap opera that gave birth to her illustrious career, was broadcast almost exclusively for Australian and European audiences. But all that’s about to change as the gamine, 41-year-old entertainer from Down Under takes her spectacular live show this side of the pond for the first time ever. Through each endeavor and incarnation—from Charlene, the garage mechanic on Neighbours, to the early-’90s shiny bubblegum-pop princess and the moody soul-searcher alongside Nick Cave, to the breast cancer survivor and activist—Kylie stays Kylie. Both sexy and likeable, she is the diva-next-door.
I’ve been watching you since the early days of Charlene on Neighbours. Now, again, those 1980s outfits are everywhere. Can you believe it? I’m sure everyone from that time thought it would never, ever happen, but now you’ve got girls wearing scrunchies—my God, it’s incredible.
Did you ever anticipate that you’d grow up to be such a massive brand? No, absolutely not. Maybe I’ve got a false impression of myself, but I was very shy at school. When I was younger, I wasn’t really at the front. I never did school plays or anything like that, though I began learning music from the age of 4. Acting came up by chance and one thing led to another. I don’t think about it very often, but if I looked back on Charlene, and how feisty she was, I guess that was in me as well.
Your success hasn’t been as recordbreaking stateside. Americans were slow to embrace your 10th album, X. The fans in America aren’t great in number, but they’re great in spirit. And they’ve been so patient. I think I really shocked them when I said I was touring, because they’ve become accepting of the fact that it was never going to happen. But I meant it, all the years I spent saying I would love to tour the States.
What can we expect from the tour? I decided not to go somewhere I’ve never been before, direction-wise, because American audiences haven’t seen my live shows for the most part. So we decided—and I guess it works well in these financial times—to bring with us a “best of” my different tours.
You’re best known as a performer, but you’ve diversified well. I have all of these side projects—from bed linens to perfumes—but none of them would exist without the nuts and bolts of what I do, which is music and performance. But I find them really enjoyable; it’s just another way of being creative.
After years spent being a famous rave scenester, did being sick make you discover other parts of yourself? I spent a lot of time being pretty quiet. You don’t have a lot of energy to do much more than that. I spent time reflecting and projecting, trying to give myself goals for where I wanted to be when I was well. That was obviously pretty emotional and I was still a bit delicate. But now I think I’m back in full flight.
And you’re actually living what you projected positively? I actually am. When people asked about my aspirations in life, I always said I wanted to find harmony, a balance between work and my private life, between work and play. I almost got tired of hearing myself say it, but I finally managed to make that happen. It’s a bit of a shame that it took something so traumatic for me to take action. But, at the moment, I really am enjoying my work, I’m enjoying performing more than ever and I feel a lot more relaxed and confident onstage—not that I’m without my nerves, of course. I’m also making time to do other nice, pleasant things…
Let’s face it, you do have a majorly hunky bloke. For all the talk of me having boyfriends and failed romances—I always find it a bit depressing when it’s written like that—my life just hasn’t been the white picket fence. I’ve spent plenty of time on my own, so it’s good now to have someone to do those fun and not-so-fun things with. I’m not particularly good on my own.
I’d imagine you let go of your passion for clothing when you became ill. I still tried to make an effort. Fashion takes a total rethink when it involves a scarf and when you’re not at your best. But I wasn’t prepared to let it all go, no way.
You seem to share a special bond with Jean Paul Gaultier. I met him at the start of the ’90s, way, way, way back when I first spent time in Paris. He’s such a talented, genuine and generous person. I was at his couture show just a couple of days ago because he’ll be doing some outfits for these upcoming shows in America. I wore a rare vintage lace dress of his that my stylist found on eBay. It wasn’t in Jean Paul’s archives. It’s really sexy, with all the poppers up front.
Does it have cowboys in the lace? I have that dress! I wonder if I can still get into it. Force yourself! Pain is fleeting, but fashion is forever.
Photos by William Baker.