big step for us doing this piece together," says a bouncy good-humoured
Pete Burns. "We could have done it for The Sun. Can you imagine
what they would have made of it?" Indeed -- this seemingly-unlikely
friendship between two of pop's most "awkward" and "newsworthy" stars
is a scoop the tabloids would undoubtedly go bonkers for. Morrissey
and Pete Burns -- bosom chums!? Who'd have thought it?
We're in Pete and Lynne Burns' new flat. Unlike their previous home,
with its ferns, mirror-tiles and clutter of kitsch objets d'art,
this one is v. smart and modern (almost hi-tech) with lots of gold discs
and framed magazine covers on the walls. The only animal skins here
belong to the two (live) cats snoozing on the cushions.
Pete and Lynne are fussing around Morrissey like a pair of mother hens.
"Toasted sandwiches?" enquires Lynne solicitously. "What would you like?"
"Cheese?" suggests Pete, arching an eyebrow. "Or cat food?"
Eventually the odd couple are seated side by side on the slim red sofa,
Morrissey with his Marks and Spencer Apricot And Guava Thick
& Creamy Yoghurt -- yum! -- and Pete Burns knee-deep in packets of biscuits.
"I know people who think 'My God! What can Pete see in Morrissey?'"
says Pete. "Yes," says Morrissey, "and I know people
who think 'What can Pete see in Morrissey?'" The pair dissolve in
laughter. Quite clearly they adore each other -- but why?
Before I met Peter I had a very strange impression of him -- I just
went by stray gossip and hearsay and mythology and so I thought he was
a half-crazed oddball. But deep down inside, as time began to pass,
I began to really concentrate on this specimen and I though 'Oh no,
it can't be true. I refuse to believe in all the curious things I've
heard." And I really wanted to meet him because I saw a video which
Pete: Which one?
Morrissey: Um, the weird one with the women body builders...
Pete: That was crap...
Morrissey: ... and then we met and it was really odd because
all these preconceptions I'd had about Pete were completely untrue.
I approached him at Top Of The Pops...
Pete: In the toilet...
Morrissey: And I thought it would either be a black eye or
it would be heavenly harmony...
Pete: He came up and spoke to me, which was a brave thing to
do, so I decided to be polite to him and from then on we struck up a
friendship that's been enduring. Before I met him, I thought he was
a malicious little prat -- sometimes the things he says about other
musicians are so strong. Morrissey has no mercy, you see, and
that is where we differ... I'm a lot more charitable than people would
expect but he's not, you see. I'd be very careful what I said about
other people's records because I don't think it's fair...
Morrissey: Oh, I do. It's only because I really care
about popular music that I feel this Samaritanesque duty to go out and
nail those that need to be nailed.
Pete: I heard him on Roundtable and wrote him a letter
saying he should hire three bodyguards and a tank -- he's really
the one with the nasty tongue.
I think it's sad that Pete does so few interviews: as a symbolist
he is quite a critical figure and he's certainly one of the most
threatening, and I think people need to hear his spoken voice as well
as his singing voice. I think it's a shame that now he's come to massive
prominence, he's locked himself away in a broom cupboard.
Pete: But I have no wish to be acknowledged for anything I say.
Before we started to become successful nobody paid me any attention
-- I could have shot the Pope and I still wouldn't have got on
the cover of a magazine. But then everybody wanted to talk to
me and it went mental -- the return of the gender bender and all that
crap. People set me up as something that I'm not. It's like with Morrissey
-- he can inspire hatred. He makes the most outrageous statements
and everyone prints them and he stands by them. Everybody wants
him to say he's a clapped-out old drag queen, but he isn't and so he
won't say it.
Morrissey: Peter is seen as a sour character and a bit of a trouble
maker but that just isn't the case. He has an endless array of humour
that has been gagged by the press.
Pete: Yeah, I'm really not such a bitter old sourpuss.
But when I'm under pressure and working, my sense of humour isn't always
there. When people try to pour custard on me... we did a TV show where
they wanted to walk on halfway through the song and give me jam sandwiches
and I won't have things like that. Morrissey can cut himself
off a lot better than I can; he doesn't have second thoughts about knocking
the phone off the hook and not going out the door for five days. I'm
too nosey -- I want to know what everyone's saying. Old Mozza here is
dead good at doing runners and dismissing the business for a week or
so, don't you think?
Morrissey: Yes. Yes. It's just a safety net, really; I have to seal
up the door and roll down the windows and hide.
Pete: But despite these differences, I feel a very strong affinity
with him -- almost a brotherly thing. We've got a lot in common. We're
both outsiders of the music business: we don't blend in on the showbiz
party circuit; we don't stage huge publicity stunts; we don't throw
Page 3 girls over our backs and get photographed at the Hippodrome...
Morrissey: Peter is so detached from the pantomime element
of the whole industry and the whole party ethic and so are The Smiths.
The only people we know in the industry are Dead Or Alive. The only
people we see in the industry are Dead Or Alive...
Pete: And I'm a Smiths fan, embarrassingly enough -- I'm not
supposed to admit that but it's always exciting when they're on Top
Of The Pops...
Morrissey: It's only exciting because we're the group that shouldn't
Pete: I followed them on a whole tour. I was like a crazed groupie.
Morrissey would be in some clapped-out hotel somewhere and I'd show
up -- because I could always find him. Do you want anything to
eat or drink?
Morrissey: No, I'll have something quite soon.
Pete: Why, are you feeling queasy?
No... can I open these Coffee Creams?
Pete: Of course you can... I'm still getting to know Morrissey,
really, but it's great having a friend like that because in this business
you sometimes think you're going insane because you're not at the Wag
Club with the famous starlets. Meeting him was great because we're
both public figures and yet we're both at home eating toast at 10:30
on a Saturday night. We both know that we can phone each other up at
any time of the day or night and we'll be at home. We keep in touch
all the time, but I doubt if you'll see us braving night clubs together
or anything. Whereas most pop stars who strike up a friendship, the
first thing they'll do is whizz out to every public place together.
But we went for a three hour walk in the park the other day, didn't
we, and we froze to death and we walked through teams of rugby players...
It does seem at the moment to be a friendship made in heaven, doesn't
it? We had a screaming row the other night -- it was an absolute screamer.
I blew my top.
Morrissey: It was horrible. It was terrible.
Pete: It's great to find a friend you can row with. I phone him
up from Italy and everywhere, don't I? Even my own mother doesn't hear
Morrissey: I think he means to phone his mother but he gets
confused and dials my number instead. And he doesn't realise until we're
half way through the conversation that I'm not actually his mother.
Pete: He's not my mother...
Morrissey: As long as I don't have to breast feed, I don't
Pete: Oh, that was a sharp one, Joan Rivers!
Morrissey: He sends me flowers lots of times...
Pete: If I hear that he's down or depressed, I'll send him a
bunch of flowers. Nothing brings him out like a bunch of flowers. Send
him a bunch of daisies and he's anybody's. It's true, we have these
little Interfiora men running between our flats, don't we, eh?
He's anybody's for a lupin. When we were in Italy we had to have
all these armed military police to guard us which was so stupid and
it was freaking me out and so I phoned him up and he was making a piece
of toast in Manchester. It really brought me back down to earth -- you
know, 'What are you doing?', 'Oh, I've got a piece of toast on the stove
and I'm watching Brookside'. It makes you realise it's still
the same world. That's why our friendship is really important. I know
it's more important to me than it is to him because he'd gladly go off
and be a recluse.
Morrissey: No, that's not true. He sent me 26 roses when it
was my birthday and I sent him 48 naked sailors.
Pete: See, I've met my match, tongue-wise. I always cheer you
up, don't I?
Morrissey: Always. Always. Most of the people I have ever
met have somebody who they can fall back into their arms -- Peter's
relationship with Lynne is enviable. When I fall back, I hit concrete...
But I phone him up and cheer him up. If I was alone in this business
-- alone in my bed at night -- I'd have flipped out. I certainly wouldn't
meet anyone now -- there's no way I'd get involved with somebody now
due to the fact that I'm successful. It's very easy when you're famous
to get into somebody's underpants. Or knickers. It's served up on a
plate with relish -- but you would not glean any relationship from it.
If Morrissey was to get a relationship now, a lot of people would treat
him with kid gloves and think 'Oh Morrissey! Morrissey!' and relate
to him in awe. You'd have trouble finding a steady relationship now...
Morrissey: As opposed to before when it was really easy...
Pete: He's best without all that aggro because he'd immediately
feel used by whoever he was with...
Morrissey: I want to be used. I want to be used.
Pete: See. That's how Morrissey sells records -- by making himself
sound available and cheap. I don't think you'll find a relationship
for a while -- until you've had four flop records. And I think his creativity
would go down the toilet -- Morrissey's appeal is in his public face
of loneliness. What else could he write about? 'Everything's wonderful.
I'm so happy today.' There'd be no sense of drama in it.
Morrissey: Peter's appeal is that he's relentlessly
exciting in every single way.
Pete: Isn't he lovely?
Morrissey: Specially the first time "You Spin Me Round" was
on Top Of The Pops. That was just barbaric; it was demonic. "You
Spin Me Round" is a hallmark in British music and it will never ever
Pete: You provocative little minx, you.
Morrissey: But to be perfectly serious about this whole thing,
Pete has been a wonderful friend to me. He really does care and
when I get depressed he'll pester me and he'll persecute in a wonderful
way. Other people will just leave me alone but he won't do that. He'll
stay there and take me out of the whole thing. And that is really priceless
Pete: That's a lovely thing to say. I'm touched.
article was originally published in the October 22, 1985 issue of
Reprinted without permission for personal use only.