GuysLikeU’s editor-in-chief Christian Guiltenane meets Girls Aloud legend, Sarah Harding.
So imagine our excitement when GuysLikeU was invited to meet up with the fabulous Sarah Harding for a chat about her headlining this year’s Leeds Pride on August 7.
When we meet her at the plush Hilton Metropole in London, Sarah, resplendent in a set of super long blonde hair extensions, is busy fiddling with her mobile phone, trying – and failing – to get her new LuMee attachment to switch on. ‘I can’t get it to work,’ she says, with frustration, tapping at it repeatedly. ‘Can you have a look for me,’ she asks her handsome PR guy, who is hovering around in the background.
While he dutifully starts to fiddle around with her phone, Sarah finally joins and greets us with a kiss. ‘’Ello darling, it’s good to see you again, how’s it going?’
Sarah and I, you see, go way back, back to the days when Girls Aloud were at their height and I was climbing the ranks to editor of OK! Magazine. During that time we worked together on numerous glossy shoots that saw gorgeous Sarah either lounging elegantly around her plush new London home, playing Lady Muck in the country or getting up close and personal with a handsome boyfriend in romantic Paris. Oh those were the days.
Since then, life has taken us in different directions with me going on to launch GuysLikeU and Sarah dipping her toes into the world of acting, starring in films such as Run For Your Wife and TV shows like Corrie.
Although it’s been too many years since we last saw each other, it somehow feels just like yesterday and I’m pleased to see that Sarah hasn’t changed one little bit, and is still the bright-eyed bundle of energy she always was.
As we settle around a meeting room table for our one-to-one, she lets slip she’s been filming an upcoming documentary which sees her revisiting some of the places she used to live, which she says has made her feel very nostalgic. She also excitedly teases us that she is on the verge of collaborating with a big star on a dance record. With all this and her headline gig at Leeds Pride in the offing, there is much for us to look forward to over the coming months.
Here, gorgeous Sarah opens up about the importance of her gay fans, girl-on-girl kisses and her most embarrassing moment ever!
So, Sarah, FACT – the gays adore you so much. Why do you think we are drawn to you so much?
Because I love them. Ha! I don’t know. I think it’s because I can be a little OTT sometimes and the guys like that. I like to get dressed up for a stage performance. I like to be flamboyant and have a laugh.
Also, gays have always been drawn to women who have had their fair share of ups and downs and wear their hearts on their sleeves.
Yes, I’d agree with that. I am not media trained, you know that. I say it as it is! Some people like it, some people don’t. You’re right, I do wear my heart on my sleeve, what you see is what you get. I think people like that. People like honesty. I’m not hiding behind a mask. You know, if it hadn’t have been for our gay fans, we wouldn’t be here, so I can’t thank them enough.
Over the years have you amassed an army of gay pals – enough to make a football team?
Probably. I didn’t know that many gay guys at school because – well, I wasn’t really at school all that much. Ha! I went to more schools than I’ve had homes, so it was more when I went to drama school and workshops that I got to meet more gay guys. That part of my life really began when I went to Manchester. I loved going to Pride there. I’ve been twice. And then me and the girls did London Pride one year where we dressed up as school girls. See, I love dressing up.
Don’t you just!
But only when I’m performing, darling.
And certainly not in the privacy of your own home, eh?
Well, maybe. Get me a good man first. Or a woman!
Oh no, so you’re single again.
Yes, I am. I’m the Peter Pan of the singletons. I don’t think I’m ever going to grow up.
Oh Sarah, you’re still young.
Well, you’re not in a walker, so you’re fine. Now every gay guy wants to be part of Taylor Swift’s glam squad. Do you?
Erm… They’re a bit like the Primrose Hill set, aren’t they? But she’s got the Swifty set! Ha! I don’t know if I’d want to be part of a group. I’m in a league of my own, I don’t think I’d fit into any category. I’m very mixed, you see. I have a lot of mates, some who are gay, a lot of rocky mates, who are all tattooed up. And then I have my other friends who are a little bit more WAGGY. Put them in the same room and then I’d be desperately trying to make sure they all got on. I think they would all clash. I have so many different kinds of friends. I don’t’ think they’d cat fight, they just wouldn’t get each other. I have friends from different backgrounds. I have friends from Essex who are like ‘’Ello darlin’’ and then I have my northern monkies.
Has anyone ever come out to you?
One of my fans did actually. He came out to me on Twitter, admitting he was bisexual and was looking for some advice. I didn’t really know what to say to him to be honest. He had previously told me he had a girlfriend and then he said he liked boys too. I think he’s happier now than he was before. You have to get it all off your chest. You are who you are, then that’s who you are and there’s nothing to be ashamed of it.
You have had your fair share of good and bad relationships over the years, have you ever thought to yourself, ‘Oh God, I’m sick of men, I might try a woman!’
Ha, definitely, every time I’ve had enough of men. But as I am quite a tomboy, I could imagine myself as a good lesbian. Ha!
Well, you’ve had a few short haircuts in your time, have you ever been mistaken for a lesbian?
Haha, yeah a lot of people did think I was. And to be honest, I did look a little bit butch at times.
Oh, I wouldn’t say that you were butch. Just feisty!
Okay, maybe not butch. I don’t know. Look, I am not gay, or bi, I’m hetero, but never say never. But I’ve kissed a woman in my time.
Oh yes? Spill!
I’m not telling you. Though me and all the girls liked a little kiss from time to time. Not like that, though. Kimberley was the friskiest when she had a few drinks in her. She’d always tried to snog us on the faces. It’s well publicised so that’s why I am saying it.
Actually talking about the gals, where the bloody hell is Nicola right now?
You know what? I never see her! She’s gone AWOL! Where is she? I have no idea where she has gone. To be honest, the girls and I have all gone off and done our own things, although Nadine and I were in touch recently. She’s back over from LA. But the rest? I haven’t seen hide nor hair of anyone for ages. But Nicola, you don’t see at all.
Well, actually, a photographer called Thomas Knight recently shot her for his new RED HOT collection.
Really? It’s weird, it feels like she’s vanished off the face of the earth!
Now looking back at the mighty Girls Aloud years, you were all cool, but pretty camp at the same time. Which of you had the campest barnet?
Oh I don’t know. All of us at some point. Probably Nicola, Kimberley and Cheryl, cos they used to love going for the big bee hives. I totally blew those out of the water though when I wore the Marie Antoinette wig for the Can’t Speak French video and on tour. I loved that hair. I remember I used to use it as a pom pom and would get into trouble with our hairdresser. She used to run around after the shows chasing me, while I was de-robing. She’d be screaming ‘give me back the wig’ and I’d scream back ‘no I’m keeping it.’ And she’d say to me ‘no, you won’t, I know what you’ll do with it when you get to the bar – you’ll end up using it as a pompom.’ She was so precious about it.
Well, it probably cost a bomb!
I remember having to leave it on the door knob of the room on the last night of our tour and I told her ‘I’ve left it on there for you.’ And she came back to me and said she hadn’t received it and that she was very disappointed in me. I remember getting so panicky and started running around the place screaming ‘has any one seen my hairpiece – it looks like a pom pom,’ And then she said, ‘Don’t worry Sarah, I do have it!’ and I was like – ‘oh you bastard!’ See we really did have some laughs.
Clearly. Now, let’s get serious and talk about Europe. Well Eurovision. We’ve done so badly over the years would you try to save it for us?
When did Eurovision become such a camp thing? It’s so big with gays, but it wasn’t always that way, was it? Back in the day, my dad used to write songs for Eurovision. When I was little, I never remembered it as being very camp and gay but now as I get older I see it more. It’s become a lot camper.
Yeah, but we need someone like you… a big star, glamour, an amazing voice.
If I got to wear my big rubber suit [from Sexy No No No] maybe I’d do it! Didn’t Kate [Price] do it in a pink rubber outfit once when she was pregnant? Oh God! I wouldn’t have done that. It wouldn’t have been easy to get into that with a baby in her tummy.
Talking of Katie Price, you were her bridesmaid back in the day. Do you like the new sophisticated Katie she’s become?
She’s great. She really has changed. But then we all have. I hadn’t seen her in ages and then I bumped into her at the LGBT Awards. It was great, as I hadn’t seen her in so long. Back in the day I used to hang out with her a lot, when she was with Peter and they had just had Junior. I remember I used to go round to see them at their place in the country and we used to make Peter audition for us as if he was in The X Factor. And he would so love getting into character and we’d be like Simon Cowell, and start yelling ‘NEXT!’ at him! And then he’d come back out again as a different character. We used to have such giggles. Katie had such a lovely house in the country back then with her horses. Then once she and Peter split, we kind of lost touch a little bit and she moved house – I guess people drift apart. I do remember seeing her again shortly afterwards in Ibiza with Gary and Phil, where she was having a bit of a breakdown – but then who doesn’t after a messy break up?
Yeah, we remember that – she was papped on her hands and knees on a beach looking like a table.
I remember that picture. She wasn’t in the best place at that time, bless her. But now she looks great and is doing so well for herself. She’s outspoken, I like that. She’s straight talking, she says it as it is. But she is very thick skinned, she can take it on the chin whereas I would probably just run off and cry. She’s not scared to say anything.
You’d be a great Loose Woman.
I’d love to do something like that, but I’d be sacred of offending people. I mean, I really don’t mind saying it as it is, but then I worry about upsetting people. And then if there was a backlash I’d get upset and think ‘oh no everyone hates me!’ I need to get a thicker skin. I really do. It’s funny, because I think people think I’m this hard faced kinda girl, but I am actually quite the opposite. People don’t see the shy and softer side of me. They just see my resting bitch face. And then they meet me and they say ‘oh you’re actually quite nice!’ I mean I can’t help having a resting bitch face – I was born with it.
Oh shush, Sarah, though you do have wonderfully evil, villainous eyes!
I’d love to be a Bond girl.
You’d be great, we can just imagine you breaking someone’s neck with your thighs.
Oh yes, baby! Hahahaha! Oh, you’re really bringing out the worst in me.
We hope so! Now, which of these Sarah moments make you blush the most? 1) That bum note on GMTV? 2) singing Mustang Sally on the Michelle Heaton wedding TV show. Or 3) That Spock haircut you had in the Call The Shots video?
Oh God! I was soooo drunk at that wedding. And Kate [Price] was screaming at me ‘Come on Sarah, get up and sing!’ So she plied me with drink and got me up to sing. And I belted out Mustang Sally because it’s a song I used to do as a kid with my dad’s band and which over the years I made my own. And now the result is I have been banned from ever singing it again. Even the girls banned me from singing it because I started over singing it, and over add-libbing it. (she bellows) ‘RIDE SALLY RIDE!’
I have to admit, it is actually one of my least favourite songs ever!
It’s so over done now, but when I was a child, growing up, it was a classic. Now it’s lost its pizazz. I remember being at Nadine’s birthday and her dad’s band were playing. So I got and joined them and it was the first time the girls had heard me sing with my rocky voice and they were like, ‘where did that voice come from?’ But I wasn’t as bad as I was at Michelle’s wedding. Oooh, I’ll kill Kate next time I see her for that. Thanks for reminding me
Three years on! Gays are still furious that Girls Aloud split – do you ever think to yourself, ‘I wish we hadn’t done that!’
I still have flashbacks. There’s a guy on Instagram who keeps posting video clips of our tours and I‘ll think ‘oh I forgot we did that song, like Black Jack or Love Is Pain.’ And I keep watching them back, loving the old clips. It reminds me how much I miss it. I still miss the touring, I miss performing. I don’t miss the rehearsals, cos I hated the dance rehearsals. It always took me longer to get my head around the routines. I used to have a faff and a meltdown, ‘I can’t do it. I much prefer the singing part to the dancing. But once it all comes together with the costumes and the lighting it always looks so great and I love watching it back. I am very nostalgic.
And finally we hear you’re going back in to the studio. We loved the track, Indelible, the B-side to your single, Threads. We actually preferred it to the A-Side
I love Indelible, but I couldn’t bring out a ballad to start with. I don’t think I can sing with out crying. It’s about a break up, it’s about heartache. It’s really tough, I can’t imagine singing it live. You can hear my voice shake in the breakdown.
We’d love to see you produce a Nothing Compares 2U style video to go with it – it’d be amazing.
Maybe I will one day. I might be doing a collab with someone too. I can t say anything just yet. I’m waiting until its been laid down. I don’t wanna jinx it. It’s a classic tune with a twist!
Sarah will headline Leeds Pride on Sunday 7 August. Go to the Leeds Pride Facebook page for more details about Sarah’s appearance and the overall weekend.