Q, July 1998
Sex Bambi Oh Louise, Louise...
"I don't know if this is the sort of thing I could wear to the shops,"giggles Louise, loosely enfolded in a backless, sideless, shameless wrap of black Clements Ribeiro cubist tailoring. Ms Nurding is not kidding.
Discretion is frequently the better part of frock valour and since the gonza scissoring of today's little number reveals more of Louise than it conceals, an attempt to wear it down your high street would be a mistake. There'd be a riot.
Six years into her pop career and two years after she slipped out of Eternal into something more comfortable, Louise is more of a head-turner than ever. Louder, spicier firls may rise and fall, but nothing can touch Louise's position as democracy's dreamgirl and mascot to the team libido.
For two years she's been going out with Liverpool soccer-star Jamie Redknapp, but compared to the Beckham and Posh soccer-fox paring, the public side of the romance has been conducted moderato. She doesn't need the tabloid tease. If her achievements as a singer - shipping half-a-million of her 'Naked' debut and happily hurdling platinum status with last year's 'Woman In Me' - seem somehow supplementary, that's probably because they are.
No one who saw her MTV Unplugged special - where the 23-year-old veteran ran ringlets around future obstacles, morphing into a mature belle of ballads - could doubt her staying power. But the music functions to complement the other thing, which would be her High Street Princess quintessence. In the Pop Party she is the last freak-like creature. She is acutely and brilliantly the lovely Louise from Lewisham, all honey tan, summer-sky eyes and strawberry.... Well, use your imagination.
"I want you to tell me if I've got any strawberry stuck to my teeth," she announces, hopping onto a studio sofa and waving the exposed flesh of a summer fruit. "I don't want to put you off talking to me when you wanna go, 'Yuch - get that'."
No danger. Louise's teeth glimmer stainlessly, as does their owner. Forty-two jet-plane rides so far this year haven't diminished her legendary, nuclear-powered aura of niceness. "I always say you can ask me anything you want, but you won't be guaranteed an answer."
Time to catch up. At the end of 1997 there was the British Louise tour. This year has been all European promotion, hard work and hotels, prior to getting on with a third album. There is a new Louise phase looming, but no one knows what it will be.
There are other matters to consider, like three weeks in the Caribbean perfecting a philosophy of tan lines.
"I'm quite happy to have lines," she says. "I'm not one of these people that has to necessarily go topless. But, there are ways. Different bikinis on different days change areas."
For a woman who spends her leisure time winging up North to link arms with a top-grade footballer, our Louise will not be dedicating much of the summer to World Cup viewing.
"If Jamie's playing I'll watch, but I think I'm becoming more bored of the game itself."
Louise didn't even meet Jamie in the traditional drunken-aftermath-nightclub-analysis session.
"I met Jamie purely on the off-chance of him being some where I was. I don't mix with footballers. It's strange; when I'm with him I don't think, 'Oh, you're a footballer'. He's just Jamie."
"I don't go out with him to gain fame or for money. He makes me laugh, and he can do that no matter what job he does. One day, maybe he'll go into the third division, you just never know. So you can't be one of them nightmare girlfriends: 'Right, that's it.' I mean, he could say that to me if my records weren't doing well.
"It's a funny business the pop industry. I love it. But it's weird."
Could you cope outside it?
"I would find it hard. But I have a lot of other things which mean a lot to me so I would cope. I don't have to be famous. I'd find something else to do that I enjoyed."
"It's not about money. I've had no money and I've had money. In the early days of Eternal, when we hadn't got a records deal, the four of us used to go to 'Hot Night Studios' at the back of this car park at one in the morning and write, and not have a penny. We'd club together to go and get crisps and a bottle of Coke. It hasn't always been expensive dinners."
The America writer PJ O'Rourke has said: "There are several mechanical devices said to increase sexual arousal in women. Chief amongst these is the Mercedes 280 SL convertible." True?
"Crap! All a nice car does is it might make you look nice. But it certainly won't make you stay."
It's what's under the bonnet that counts?
"Something like that! Hahaha!"
Let's talk sex. "An orgasm is like diving into a sea of Honey Nut Loops." What do you thing?
"Who said that?"
"You just made it up? I'm sorry, I'm not saying that quote. I did not make that quote, tape recorder."
You're saying an orgasm is nothing to do with Honey Nut Loops?
"No. I think it doesn't have anything to do with it. So don't even write anything about Honey Nut Loops down!"
Have you moved on in terms of cereals?
"I don't think there is a cereal that I would rant and rave about."
"A cereal is a cereal, sorry. You eat it in the morning. It's breakfast. That's it."
But as a pop singer who's been voted Sexiest Woman in the World
Louise goes cross-eyed, "It's flattering, but..."
You accept that your performance is partly sexual?
"Totally, yeah. Music is a very sexual thing anyway. That's why people sing about such personal things, whether it be sex, drugs or rock 'n' roll - it's their way of opening themselves up."
So to be good in the studio you've got to be good in bed?
"I think that's a load of....Not true at all. How can you say that? And who's to say what's good and what's not good? I know what you're getting at, but I don't think you can generalise. It depends what sort of girl you're talking to....I'm still young. I've been in a serious relationship for a while. My studio tactics and how that compares to when I get home is not something I spend any time thinking about."
So where's your music going?
"I'm not going to start strumming a guitar and sitting there with no shoes on if that's what you think. I can play the guitar, actually. I did an Unplugged and people said to me, 'Did you sing that live?' I'm like, 'Did you think I wasn't singing on these records for the last seven years?' You're mainstream pop, and people automatically think you can't sing."
They also assume you're thick.
"I'm aware of how quick people are to judge how intellectual you are. I mean, I'm not a majorly intellectual person. I didn't walk away from school with loads of GCSE's, but I was brought up in Lewisham. I know about life. I know what comes easily and what doesn't."
And how to avoid the crack dealers. What's your drug stance?
"Wouldn't waste my money. It might make me sound boring, but it's the last thing on my mind. Maybe I'm not a very inquisitive person. Or maybe it's because I'm happy so I don't feel the need."
What about toad-licking?
Louise's psychedelic album is clearly something we're going to have to wait for. In the meantime, she has wiles and will enough to keep things interesting both in the studio and between the sunbeds pincers. "I'm probably more ambitious than people ever think little old Louise would be," she murmurs.
The long-term plan includes singing, acting, directing, marriage (no date set), motherhood and trundling her armourplated sweet nature onto enough promo trips to facilitate some major cartwheeling across global pop's megastages.
"I'm not the sort of person you'd want at your Christmas party." suggests the siren of the centre-ground. "I've got no jokes, no tricks, I'm not a witty person. But give me Wembley Stadium and I'll entertain!
She's wrong about the Christmas party. Especially if she turned up in that dress.
Q, July 1998