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Britain's Singing Fox

March 15, 1987|DENNIS HUNT

Samantha Fox, a 20-year-old British blonde, is often called one of the world's prettiest, sexiest women. Because of her voluptuous figure alone, she became an international celebrity in the mid-'80s.

Then she turned singer.

Fox became so famous in Britain as a topless model that she was offered a recording contract, which resulted in her racy dance single, "Touch Me (I Want Your Body)," a smash hit in the United States and Europe.

"I know men like my body," Fox said matter-of-factly one recent night at a West Hollywood restaurant. She's so used to being ogled that she didn't even seem notice all the males gawking at her.

"I don't mind being looked at. It's just that people shouldn't lose sight of the fact that I'm a person too. There's something under this skin--some substance. I'm not a dumb blonde. Don't believe the image. It's not what I'm all about."

Feisty and candid, Fox had opinions about everything and didn't try to protect herself by declaring them off the record. However, many of the topics and opinions were X-rated and unprintable.

"I'm not a shy person," she said. "I speak my mind. I've always known my own mind. I'll tell you anything you want to know."

Fox's debut album, "Touch Me"--on RCA Records--has climbed into Billboard magazine's Top 25. It's loaded with sexy, danceable songs like "Wild Kinda Love," "I'm All You Need" and "He's Got Sex."

"I wanted songs about love and boyfriends and sex," she said. "That's all young people are interested in. I wanted to keep it light and fun. I didn't want to get into anything heavy."

Since Fox is, at best, an average singer, dance music is the perfect genre for her. Vocals aren't really that important. The rhythm tracks carry the song. All Fox really has to do--on records at least--is be able to carry a tune, which she can. But when she goes on tour later this year, fans will expect a much stronger vocal performance.

A few years ago, many record companies wanted to sign her--obviously to capitalize on her name. "They didn't care if I could sing," said Fox, who just started recording last year. "They said: 'Oh, she looks great . . . can she sing?' The singing ability was secondary."

As you may have guessed, Fox is not a critical favorite. Of course, critics contend that her success has more to do with her figure than her vocal talents. Most are predicting that she'll be a one-hit wonder.

Fox contended that, with most critics, her looks operate against her--particularly in Britain. "When women review my record, they don't talk about the record. They say rude things about my body. And when you see their pictures, you see they're these plain, drab women without any sex appeal at all. One reason critics rip apart people like Madonna and George Michael is because these artists are good-looking. The problem with most male music critics is that they look like Elvis Costello."

Recalling one high-voltage encounter with a critic, she said: "He was a weird-looking person. The first thing he said was: 'Y'know, you think you're beautiful but you're really ugly.' I said to him: 'Y'know, you stink.' I almost asked him: 'You been having a hard time with girls lately?' But I decided I wouldn't stoop to his level. Anyway, it was all downhill from there. He didn't print one of my quotes and wrote this nasty article."

But, Fox insisted, negative criticism doesn't bother her: "Critics can't get to me. I'm too clever for them. You see, I don't care if people think I'm serious or not. The people those critics can really tear apart are the ones who think they're great artists, the ones who have all these grand ideas about how good they are. I know where I'm at. I don't have any illusions that they can wreck."

Fox became famous as a "Page Three" girl in 1983, posing topless in the Sun, a British newspaper that claims to have 12 million readers. Her mother started it all by entering Fox's picture in a beauty contest, which she won--attracting the Sun's scouts. The other Page Three girls have been at least 17. The Sun was so eager to get Fox they signed her up at 16.

"I do it once a month," she said. "The session takes about an hour. I get paid about 90, which isn't that much. But you don't do it for the money. It's a steppingstone. You get offered modeling contracts, calendars, posters and all sorts of opportunities. As soon as my first Page Three picture appeared I was offered a camera endorsement."

As the offers poured in, Fox, who had planned to be a graphic designer, dropped out of school. "I wanted to be free to pursue this full time," said Fox, who's from a working-class London family. "If I had gone to school and got a regular job, I wouldn't have made much money. I've made a lot of money as a result of all this exposure."

What's surprising about Fox is her height: 5 feet 1, quite short for a model. "I thought my height would get in the way of my modeling career, but it hasn't. Other stuff makes up for being little."

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