HOW WE MET; BRIX SMITH AND KATIE PUCKRIK

The musician Brix Smith (far right), 35, grew up in Chicago. She moved to Britain in 1983, when she joined seminal Manchester punk band The Fall, and married its frontman Mark E Smith. As well as playing on and off with The Fall for 13 years, she also had her own band, The Adult Net. After her marriage split up, she had a relationship with violinist Nigel Kennedy; she now lives in London with her current partner, Philip Start. The presenter Katie Puckrik, 35, was born in Virginia. In 1984 she moved to Britain, and worked as a dancer and stand-up comic until 1991, when she became a presenter on Channel 4's `The Word'. Since then she has co-presented several TV shows, and has a regular programme on GLR. She lives alone in London

Brix Smith: I first met Katie when we were performing in Michael Clark's I Am Curious Orange in 1988. The Fall was doing the music, and Katie was one of the dancers. She had long, lovely, red, red hair, a cute, cheeky face, and she was American. Fifty per cent of the time I steer away from other Americans, but she was very bright and cool and kitsch and post-modern, and we just bonded.

The tour was an amazing thing to be part of, it lasted six weeks and we played in Amsterdam and at the Edinburgh Festival as well as Sadler's Wells. That was a complete blast, but my personal life wasn't going too well. During the tour my marriage to Mark ended. On the one hand it was incredibly hard for me to keep going and put on a brave face when I knew the cracks were happening; but at the same time there were these loving, supportive people around me, like Katie, who neutralised the hell. When I confided in Katie, I was very embarrassed that everything was going wrong. Mark and I were this couple, right - the couple - and everything was really Sonny and Cher. But underneath I was thinking, shit, what is going to happen?

After the tour Katie and I drifted apart for a while, until we met again by accident at auditions for The Word. That was a great surprise. At that point in my life I was going through another huge relationship-and-music thing, with Nigel. His career was skyrocketing, while I'd left The Fall and was doing solo stuff. It was very intense and crazed work-wise, and I wasn't 100 per cent there at The Word audition. I would have liked to present it, but in retrospect Katie was the right person for the job.

The best thing, though, would have been us doing it together. It would have been so much fun, we wind each other up and inspire each other to go further. She gets my brain going, she reminds me of a lot of weird things about growing up in America. She's sharp, sharp as a tack. Not everyone is sharp, well-read and adorable with it, so with her it's utterly charming and annihilating.

Me and Katie are physically similar, and we're mistaken for sisters all the time. I am a competitive person, but I'm happy for her and want her to do brilliantly - I don't feel jealousy. There have been people in my life with whom I've been intensely competitive. But she's not the kind of person who steals from me. That just drives me up the wall: when people take your look, or clothes, or the sound you're doing. I say: "I did it first and I can do it better, I can reinvent it." With Katie, even though being up for the same job was a test, I'm solid enough as a person that I can see why they chose her and be happy for her. I just took my life in a different direction.

Even though we don't see each other sometimes for months, we know we can still pick up at the same level of friendship, and we've never fallen out. There was one massive gap when I went back to America for four years after I left The Fall. I went to LA to get completely away from music. I acted in commercials and soap operas and did a play. All of a sudden I got the taste for music back again. Courtney Love asked me to play bass in her band, so I went up to Seattle to rehearse. She's another extremely smart girl, scary smart. Then Mark Smith called the same week saying: "Come back to the band, I'll give you anything you want." I decided to go back to The Fall for a while because it's the real thing, they begat everything else.

I feel Katie and I will definitely still be friends in 10 years time. I would love to work with her, that would be the best. To do a fun show about interesting, weird, bizarre girl-things. You could say we're good examples of Girl Power, whatever that is. We're examples of what women can do and achieve and still be good friends and have good hearts. The media loves to see two women as rivals, like Linda Evans and Joan Collins in the Dynasty cat fight, but we'd never do that.

Katie Puckrik: When we were doing I Am Curious Orange I noticed Brix right away because she was American, and when you're in a strange land you derive great comfort from hearing a familiar accent. I felt uncertain because it was such a cool-seeming scene. I knew I was a good dancer but didn't know if I was cool, hip or a good enough party-er. There was Michael Clark and Leigh Bowery and all these desperately fashionable folk. Brix was on top of a giant papier mache Big Mac, rocking out with a guitar in her pink tights, ballet slippers and mini-skirt. She was small, and had this beautiful, open face. She draws you in with a very innocent kind of charisma, not a manipulative one. I thought: "She's in with the in- crowd, but she's being nice to me."

At one point we were dancing on stage in a disco scene, and because the electronic music was so loud you could talk on stage without the audience hearing. I could smell a delicious scent wafting over me and said, "Mmm, who smells really good?" and I heard Brix's little, girlish voice saying: "I think it's me." I said: "Is it Chanel?" "No, it's by Clarins. Come up to my dressing-room afterwards." So after the show I went up there. She was so warm and welcoming. She told me to turn around. I was wearing my strappy leotard and she slapped all this Clarins lotion on my back and rubbed it in. As a dancer you really like to be touched, and it was so nice she did that - dove right in.

Brix was breaking up really painfully with Mark at the time, it was all going down the tube. I was flattered that she could confide in me, and trusted me enough to tell me how unhappy she was. You feel you're always having a pyjama party with her, she shares secrets.

After that we didn't see each other until we both auditioned for The Word. We arrived at this open call in London where 500 people were auditioning. I was a bit of a shrinking violet because I thought everyone was full of shit and trying to be loud, getting their face up on camera. But Brix was really charismatic. At one point everyone had to say something about themselves and she said: "I'm Brix, I'm a Scorpio, and Scorpios are very sexual." I remember thinking: "God, this girl is going for it." She was oozing it, baby: projectile sexing-up the crowd. I reminded her of that recently and she was excruciatingly embarrassed!

I never felt competitive with her because when we met she was clearly in a band and I was dancing. We were both small and American and we delighted in our similarities. Obviously auditioning for a major TV show is a different situation, but I felt positive that I'd get the job. I was at a time in my life when I'd gotten out of an unhappy relationship with a boyfriend and I was surging with power and energy. I felt very clear. I hate competitiveness. I'm happily ambitious, I know what I'm good at and what my goals are, but I don't like that unhappy jealous feeling. I don't have that with Brix. What I like about our friendship is that we're very relaxed with each other, I don't have to prove anything. As I've done TV work I realise how that changes the way people react to you. They try to impress you by acting all snide. They play games. Brix doesn't. She's had success on her own terms and in her own field. Although there is a crossover - we have complementary abilities and can flow into each other's lives and professions.

A significant factor in our friendship is that, despite long spaces between meeting each other, we just click right in, there's no awkwardness. When I met her again after she came back from LA, she was walking down Fulham Road with her dog Grommit, a funny smooshed-up overly upholstered dog with wrinkles in its skin - a pillow on a lead. She hugged me hello and immediately invited me to a party. I love that she's very open. I don't know how she's maintained that, being in Britain and the career she's in. London makes you shut down, whereas in the States I am more open and chatty to strangers. Brix has a childlike openness that brings out the positive side in me here.

I find her inspiring, she reinforces my sense of self. That's what friends do. They're not a mirror image, but they show you an image of you that you could be. I've always been a big proponent of women empowering each other. That quality is friendship - seeing that everything's within you anyway, it just needs to be coaxed out - that's what Girl Power is all about. The biggest comfort and joy in my life comes from my female friends. I'm going to sound like Julio Iglesias here, but women are so beautiful, all different kinds of beauty, I love them all and as for Brix, I have yet to see an obnoxious side. Especially while she feeds me cakes and champagne, that can't be bad.

Katie Puckrik's memoirs, `Shooting From the Lip' (Headline, pounds 12.99), will be published in October.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the first-look Fifty Shades of Grey movie still

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
    Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
    Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

    Feather dust-up

    A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
    5 best waterproof cameras

    Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

    Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
    Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

    Louis van Gaal interview

    Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
    Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

    Will Gore: Outside Edge

    The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz