Meet Katrina Leskanich, yes tis she, winner of Eurovision ’97, lead singer of the band that brought us ‘Walking On Sunshine’ and now author (with her trusty dog Peggy Lee). Lewis Fellows catches up with one of the most iconic voices of the 80s and 90s.
So your new book “Peggy Lee loves London” has just come out and might I say, it’s fabulous! Such a charming read! Now what was the inspiration for it? Word on the street is that you chose this particular approach after years of not being able to familiarise yourself with the city because of touring and other such engagements.
KL – Thank you! Well that’s one way of looking at it! Another is realising that after a few glasses of wine on the Eurostar between Brussles and Kings Cross, I decided that being in possession of such a charming little pooch, it would be a good idea to write a book.
Obviously Peggy Lee plays a big part in the book, was it a conscious decision to have her “star” in all the pictures?
KL – Well after months of mooching around the city with her, I realised it would make much more sense to have her in the pictures. This way it adds character to the book and if she’s there all the time, representing us, it adds a bit of cute eye candy and makes it a lot more fun! I think it’s a lot more engaging for the whole family or dog lovers and such.
I mean she really is fantastic in all the pictures. Especially the one of her posing with a rather serious looking artist down at “Flamin’ Eight Tattoo Studio” looking tough as nails
KL – *Laughs* YES! We loved the way she can pose with all these different people, whether it be a restaurant owner or the fierce tattoo guy, she just manages to soften everybody up. They always end up smiling even when they’re trying to act tough. What can I say, I love the idea of these tough guys, all posing with a little white toy poodle.
Fabulous! Now tell us, how long have you had Peggy Lee?
KL – *Laughs* Well she’s never told me.
TGUK – Ah of course, a lady never reveals her age after all.
KL – What I will tell you is that it took us six years to finally complete the book. It was a lot of trial and error and there were a lot of places that Peggy Lee just didn’t like or didn’t approve of. She would always let us know if she wasn’t impressed, whether it be by yawning or looking away.
TGUK – Brilliant, darling! Now how did the name “Peggy Lee” come about? Big fans or just a fabulous coincidence? You realise I myself have come worryingly close to buying a Pug and calling it “Lena Horne”. I’m somewhat disappointed you’ve beat me to it.
KL – *Laughs* She was absolutely named directly after the singer. It’s just fun and you get a lot of fuss when people ask her name and you say “Peggy Lee”. Initially it was her hairstyle that reminded me of her, the dog and the singer have the same sort of colour and style and also of course Peggy Lee was in “The Lady And The Tramp” so it’s just a lot of fun and when we tell people her name that get a kick out of it, usually the older women.
My second choice would have been Stella so that I could have lost her in the park on purpose then gone all out Brando and screamed “STELLA” desperately.
TGUK – So are we likely to see another instalment in the “Peggy Lee loves” series? We hear that there are plans for another.
KL – Well right now we’re seeing how this one goes. I think there is a market for this sort of book. Sher (My Partner) wrote all the captions in the book, which really are fabulous and match the pictures perfectly. It’s good because you get the picture, the caption then you learn something about the city or the spot in particular that you are reading about. We think it would make an excellent gift!
TGUK – Certainly! We also said in the office that it would be an ideal ‘coffee table’ book.
KL – Exactly! We don’t expect this to be a bestseller, more of a slow burner. We’ve had good reviews so far and it’s just a fun little read. We didn’t want to go for anything to cheesy or gimmicky, we wanted something that people would find endearing and kitsch, and I think that’s exactly what we’ve accomplished.
TGUK – You certainly have! It truly is a wonderful book. Now, our readers are dying to know about Eurovision. You obviously won it back in 1997, our nation’s last win. Would you consider doing it again?
KL – No. I think that a lot has changed since we competed. More countries are competing and also it seems to be more political nowadays. It’s no longer about the talent. I think they need to sex it up a bit. Like most things, I think they need Simon Cowell to come on board and make it appeal to the masses.
TGUK – Now of course, you’ve been around for a while with your fantastic music, you’ve travelled the world to perform and seen how the industry has changed. Do you feel that gay rights have progressed since you began?
KL – Absolutely. When I started out in the dark ages of the early 80’s, I never felt comfortable about coming out. Nowadays I’m so delighted for people like Jessie J who can come out and say “You know what, I am bisexual” and such an admission can be celebrated instead of discouraged. Back in my day I’d have felt way too much pressure.
TGUK – Also it could have completely ruined your career.
KL – Exactly. I think I’d have been warned against it, even by the record company. It wasn’t in the best interest of the group. That’s why I think it’s so brilliant that now, people in the spotlight can come out and be open without any major repercussions. The greatest thing about it is that no matter how difficult it was for me, it’s very special to me that when I die, I’ll be able to have seen so much progress for our community.
TGUK – Lovely. Now finally what does the future hold for you, my darling?
KL – Well I’m putting most of my energy into this book at the moment. Also I’m performing at Doncaster Pride this weekend, You’ll have to come and see me, have a glass of champagne!
TGUK – Oh fabulous! I shall bring a flask of Tom Collins just for you darling!
There you have it my darlings. The FABULOUS Katrina Leskanich! Do go and see her perform if you’re in Doncaster this week. Also I IMPLORE you all to buy her fantastic book “Peggy Lee Loves London” links below.
The news team for THEGAYUK. Got tips? Go to www.thegayuk.com/newsdesk to tell us something.