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.

Arts and Entertainment
Stewart Lee (Gavin Evans)


Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own