You recall penthouse apartments, luxury holidays, mobile phones, Vivienne Westwood and Comme des Garcons outfits; ripped jeans, spiky hair, chunky belt and cowboy boots; the glittering ostentation and lip gloss of success that was the Eighties. And you realise it has all gone for ever; this is 1994 and time is running out. You must recreate yourself or spend the rest of your life labelled a loser, a has-been, a sad ex-pop star. Your name is Luke Goss.
You have two friends: Rob, a former audio equipment dealer who is now your manager, and Shirley, your girlfriend for nearly seven years. When no one wanted to know you, when your ivory tower finally crumbled and you tumbled headfirst into the baying tabloid press pack, these were the only people outside your family who supported you. Oh, there is the new band, of course, nice guys and fun to hang out with, but . . . Your twin brother, Matt, lives in Los Angeles now, so you do not see him so much anymore. And anyway, you were the one who decided to throw in the towel.
One day you realised the record company had no faith in you, that your career was based on illusion, that no matter how hard you worked in the studio they would never see Bros as anything but pop product, and that eventually they would drop you like a hot brick. So you rang your brother and resigned. A week later, every contractual obligation had been severed: that is how much they cared. You made them millions and they let you walk without so much as a farewell. You will never be sure you did the right thing, not until you prove yourself again.
Who could you turn to? Thousands of screaming little girls? Everyone smirked when they read how you squandered hundreds of thousands of pounds, though no one questioned the advice you were given: after all, you were barely out of your teens. Every time you pumped the handle, the golden jackpot spewed out all over your steel-toed Dr Martens. Money to burn, time to kill - who would not act like a prick in the same circumstances?
It was bizarre and terrifying, being so successful. You and Matt were out there on your own and, being equally confused, you could not even help each other. You are proud of having survived, proud that Jean Ritchie, who ghosted your autobiography, I Owe You Nothing, said you had retained your dignity. If only others could see it. But there is a wall of prejudice to scale in each new encounter; every meeting is a potential confrontation. You come with a history, one that has a nasty slant. You have been written off as a tacky Eighties phenomenon, out of step with the nobler, more modest times we live in now. Having learnt humility the hard way, every day presents a new challenge.
So you work hard, write and record new songs, put a band together and step back on the treadmill. You do not want to, but you know that being famous without money is a nightmare. You are a sitting target for every twisted, bitter prat, every sneering poncey music hack with an axe to grind; you know that sooner or later some little creep will take a cheap shot at you, and all you have as defence is your self-belief.
Yet something about this realisation makes you feel stronger, calmer, more stable than you ever felt when surrounded by bodyguards, managers, lawyers and press agents. Though your hair is thinning at the front, and time is already working at your once-flawless pink skin, some say you look better than ever.
There are moments of terrible self-doubt, of course, moments when you should have been wiser, kinder, more calculating in business. But you catch yourself frowning, wishing things had been different, and suddenly realise that being flash and nave and foolish is what youth is all about, and that everybody has to make mistakes if they are to develop.
You feel incredibly optimistic about your new work, but you know optimism alone will not keep you going much longer. You need a break. You need an album deal, but the record companies want proof of your viability before weighing in with a five-figure advance. Five years ago you sold millions of records: today your name counts for nothing. You must start at the bottom again. So tonight you will play a showcase gig at London's Criterion Theatre. Fingers crossed. Then Rob says you have to leave for Capital Radio - time is running out.
The journalist talking to you says he hopes it all works out. And he really means it.Reuse content