The Strange Tale Of Iggy The Eskimo Pt. 2
(This is Part 2 of Mark Blake's Iggy the Eskimo article, for part one click: EXCLUSIVE: The Strange Tale Of Iggy The Eskimo.)
Words: Mark Blake.
Pictures: Iggy Rose, Chris Lanaway.
Date: 20 January 2011.
Previously published on mojo.com.
While there are many reports of Barrett being withdrawn and even aggressive at this time, Iggy remembers it differently. "People talk about Syd's madness and his dark side, but I never saw it," she states. "We had a wonderful giggly time. There were no sinister moments." Only briefly did she glimpse a more troubled side to his personality. "One day, he said to me, 'How do you feel? Are you sad?' I was naked, and he went and got some paint and painted two great big eyes on my breasts with two tears coming down, and on my belly button he painted an arrow and underneath that a picture of me with a big belly, and said, 'There could be life in there. I could give you life.' But I didn't want that at all. So I panicked, and scrubbed it off." He was also uncomfortable with some aspects of fame, as Iggy discovered on a night out with Syd to The Speakeasy, a music-biz haunt in Margaret Street. "We'd persuaded Syd to go, but it was full of posers," she admits. "There were a few of us there. Someone asked the DJ to put on See Emily Play, which was a stupid thing to do." A hit for Pink Floyd more than two years before, the dance-floor cleared. "So I went on and started dancing, but Syd ran off. He was obviously very sensitive about it all."
"We had a wonderful giggly time. There were no sinister moments."
In March '69, Barrett began recording The Madcap Laughs at Abbey Road, but his erratic behaviour in the studio resulted in Roger Waters and David Gilmour helping to oversee the sessions. Gilmour was now living in Richmond Mansions, a block so close to Wetherby Mansions that he could almost see into Syd and Duggie's kitchen window. One evening, Syd announced that he had to go out. Iggy wanted to go with him, but Barrett insisted she remain at the flat. "I think I thought he was seeing another woman," she says. "I got a bit jealous, a bit pouty - very silly. Duggie knew where Syd had gone but wouldn't tell me." With Syd gone, Iggy decided to pay a visit to David Gilmour instead. Fields helped Iggy back-comb her hair, plaster her face with make-up and paint her lips black. "I looked like Medusa. Like a banshee. Duggie then took me round to Dave's place. Dave was very beautiful and very cool, and his flat was nicer than Syd and Duggie's - it was warmer for a start. Dave opened the door, took one look at me, but didn't bat an eyelid."
When Iggy walked in, she saw Syd sat in Gilmour's living room. "I went in, shouting, 'OK, where is she?' thinking there was a woman hiding in one of the rooms. But, of course, the meeting had been with Dave about the record they were making together." Barrett left Iggy with Gilmour, but rather the worse for wear, she knocked the stylus on his record player accidentally scratching his copy of Pink Floyd's brand new album. "I have no idea what album it was, only that it was their new album," Iggy sighs. (The likely candidate seems to be Soundtrack From The Film More) "So Dave threw me out... If he ever reads this I would like to say sorry for scratching his record." Back at Wetherby Mansions, Barrett was unfazed by her planned defection: "Syd just said, 'Come in love, and I'll make you a cup of tea'. How sweet."
By now, Barrett had prepared his bedroom for The Madcap... cover shoot, painting most of the floorboards orange and mauve. On the morning of the shoot, Syd asked Iggy to help finish the job. "He jumped off the mattress and said, 'Quick, grab a paint brush.' He did one stripe and I did another. If you look at Mick Rock's pictures, I have paint on the soles of my feet." When Rock arrived with the Floyd's sleeve designer Storm Thorgerson to take the photos, a naked Iggy went to put some clothes on. "But Syd said, 'No, don't'. That was his wicked sense of humour. I put the kohl around his eyes that day and tousled up his hair: come on Syd, give us a smile, moody, moody, moody! But he knew exactly what he was doing. He was as sharp as anything. He set the tone. He was the manipulator."
"Syd just said, 'Come in love, and I'll make you a cup of tea'. How sweet."
Iggy joined Syd for further photos outside the flat. Later, Rock recalled showing Barrett one of the pictures and Syd mysteriously scratching around Iggy's image; an act that has acquired some significance among Barrett's more earnest devotees. "They're making something out of nothing," she insists. "Later on, Syd showed me one of the pictures and said, 'You like that one, don't you? I know why, because of your cheekbones'. I think I was sucking on a cigarette, and, yes, I was being vain, I liked the way my cheekbones looked. So he tore the pic in half and gave it to me. There was nothing more to it than that." Strangely, Iggy also recalls other photographs being taken that day, which have never appeared since. "I don't think Storm and Mick were very impressed by them. If you've ever seen the cover of the Rod Stewart album, Blondes Have More Fun, they were a bit like that... Of me and Syd. There were others of me and Syd, as well, which remind me of the picture of John and Yoko [on Two Virgins] which came out later. I'd love to see those pictures now."
Before long, Iggy had drifted out of Wetherby Mansions and out of Syd's life as quickly as she had drifted in. When she returned later, Duggie told her: "Syd's not here. He's gone back to Cambridge. Don't bother trying to find him." She never saw him again, and is adamant she only became aware of her presence on the cover of The Madcap Laughs after being phoned by the Croydon Guardian: "I went to a boot sale with my husband... When I saw the cover, I thought, Oh yes, that is my bottom."
Although the stories of her marrying a rich banker and joining a religious cult are untrue, there is a kernel of truth: after Syd, Iggy began seeing a wealthy businessman who was also a scientologist. However Duggie Fields' recollection of spotting Iggy climbing off a bus in a gold lamé dress is not in dispute: "It was a beautiful dress that cost £50." Still a fixture on the music scene, Iggy recalls accompanying Pink Fairies' drummer Twink to the Isle Of Wight Festival and turning up "for the very first Glastonbury... ". But in 1978 Iggy married her husband, Andrew, and "left that life behind me".
"I heard on the radio that Syd died, and I felt sad, but it was so long ago," she says. Since reading about those times in MOJO, the memories of the people and the places have slowly come back to her. "Mick Rock took some beautiful picture of me," she smiles. "But, of course, I wish I'd been paid some money for them. Still, it is amazing that people have been looking for me... and that someone has even set up a website. I still don't know what to make of all this." The fascination continues. Last week, Iggy called to tell me she had found a poem online written about her by a professor at a university in Missouri. "And it's in French," she said, sounding astonished. "'Iggy l'esquimo, Fille De Le Space'...it goes. I never believed anyone would ever write a poem for me."
by Mark Blake (www.markrblake.com)
Thanks to: Felix Atagong, Jeff Dexter and Anthony Stern
Previously published on mojo.com.
Many thanks to Mark
Blake for allowing us to host this article.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥