Eight years after they met, six years after they became a couple and two years after Covid postponed their first wedding, Sam Fox and Linda Olsen finally got married in an Essex hotel last week. Let the bells ring out! It was quite a day.
Sam and her Norwegian bride had matching glitter manicures and exchanged identical diamond baguette wedding bands. They cried when they saw each other in their jewel-encrusted white gowns from David’s Bridal in Stratford, East London, and they loved being attended by their eight bridesmaids in blush gowns to match the rose bouquets in the pink-hued ceremony.
During the Eurovision-themed party, both brides drank non-alcoholic wine — what Sam calls ‘virgin prosecco’ — so they wouldn’t miss or forget a single thing, forever and ever, amen. Newspapers reported on every detail of the knees-up, from the performance by the pop group Bobbysocks to the three-tier wedding cake.
Eight years after they met, six years after they became a couple and two years after Covid postponed their first wedding, Sam Fox and Linda Olsen finally got married in an Essex hotel last week. Let the bells ring out! It was quite a day
‘And at the end of it all I was absolutely gutted,’ says Sam. Why? ‘Because one newspaper said I was 57 and I am only 56,’ she shrieks.
Still, there were moments when the former Page 3 model and singer admits that she did feel her age. ‘At one point, someone said to me, ‘Where is the afterparty?’ Hello? Whatcha talking about? I told them, ‘My feet are killing me, you know? It is time to go home.’ ‘
Today, at their detached, three-storey property in East London, the happy couple are still on a post-wedding high — although a cancer scare has put a hold on their happy ever after and might even delay their honeymoon plans to go on an African safari.
For Sam is to undergo a throat operation within days, after doctors found a 1 cm growth on her vocal cords. ‘It is the size of a petit pois,’ she says. ‘Or a sweetcorn.’
She noticed her voice getting hoarse before Christmas but put it down to dust caused by building work being carried out at home. When it persisted, she sought medical opinion and doctors have advised removal rather than a biopsy, although it runs a risk of scarring and possible damage to her singing voice.
‘They said it could be a lesion, it could be a polyp or it could be something sinister. As in cancer. And they won’t know until they take it out,’ says Sam, who had six benign nodes removed from her throat in 1999. ‘So I’m just praying every day. A lot of friends are praying for me. My fan clubs around the world are praying for me.
‘I believe if you have enough people praying for you all over the world, then I will be healed. I really just hope so. You know, I believe in that. I am staying positive.’
That’s for sure. During our interview, I spend most of my time trailing after her saying what? What? WHAT?! and laughing at her jokes.
Today, at their detached, three-storey property in East London, the happy couple are still on a post-wedding high — although a cancer scare has put a hold on their happy ever after and might even delay their honeymoon plans to go on an African safari
Three decades on from her topless heyday, the woman the redtops called ‘the sexy smasher’ is still a force of nature; her tiny feet clipping around in sparkly heels as she remains determined to put on a brave face, no matter what.
She is looking good, even after cutting and dyeing her own hair during lockdown and then sticking to a 300-calories-per-meal Jane Plan diet for the wedding.
That celebrated embonpoint is still magnificent, of course, but to meet 5 ft 1 in Sam Fox in the flesh is to understand that it is not that her chest is so very, very big — 36D at her cheeky peak — it is that the rest of her is so very, very small.
She has always been aware of the power that her figure has over men. As a 14-year-old working on a greengrocer’s stall she remembers a man crashing his moped while staring at her and a lot of male customers suddenly realising they needed extra onions for the weekend. Ha! Isn’t the simple power of a pair of boobs an amazing thing, I say.
‘No it is not. I hate it when people say that,’ says Sam, slightly bristling.
‘Because it is not just the boobs, is it? Don’t forget that I had a nice face, too. You know, Jan, there is nothing special about a big pair of boobs. You can buy them nowadays.’
It would be especially cruel if fate and a bad diagnosis were to spoil the party now, at one of the happiest junctures in Sam Fox’s capricious life.
For her wedding was a testament to love conquering all, despite everything. Sam was in a relationship with her manager Myra Stratton for 16 years and had spent their last two years together as her carer before Myra died of sarcoma cancer in 2015.
Linda, 47, comes from a small fishing village on a Norwegian archipelago. She had been married to a woman for ten years, then separated from a long-term girlfriend of eight years when she met Sam.
‘Sam was my celebrity crush. I had pictures of her on my walls when I was a little girl,’ she says.
It was important to both women that those closest to them played a part in the wedding celebrations. Sam was accompanied by her mother, Carole, and Carole’s former fiance Colin. They never actually married but remain close and he has been a father figure to Sam for much of her life.
She was estranged from her own father Patrick, a former joiner who managed her career and who she sued for £1.2 million which she believed he embezzled from her at the peak of her fame in the 1980s. Father and daughter were never reconciled, and he died in 2000.
‘Because of him I ended up with nothing. It was devastating. But I didn’t come from money and I said to myself, I can get back up. I can do it again. And that’s what I did.’
Linda was escorted down the aisle by her twin sons Adam and Noah (both 20). She became pregnant with them after fertility treatment. ‘I knew I was gay when I was 20 but I always wanted children. Everyone said it would take a few times but I was lucky, I got double trouble the first time round.’
‘Now they are my sons, too. I just couldn’t be happier,’ says Sam proudly. ‘I married this beautiful woman who I love, and I got an instant family as well.’
Linda had worked in retail as the manager of a large toy shop in Oslo. Now she is employed as Sam’s tour manager, accompanying her to gigs and events across the world.
‘I hired her because she is so organised,’ says Sam, although there is little evidence of that in the happy post-wedding chaos of their living room, decorated with pink accents, mirrored surfaces and a fluffy purple hearthrug.
Three decades on from her topless heyday, the woman the redtops called ‘the sexy smasher’ is still a force of nature; her tiny feet clipping around in sparkly heels as she remains determined to put on a brave face, no matter what
Dozens of Sam’s gold and platinum discs line the hall and stairway — and do you know what really bugs her today? That people forget she has been a pop singer for longer than she was ever a Page 3 model.
And also that everyone gets the Trivial Pursuit question about her wrong. ‘OK,’ she says. ‘Who had a No 1 hit on both sides of the Atlantic with two different songs — Annie Lennox, Madonna, Samantha Fox or Cyndi Lauper?’
Was it, um, Madonna, I wonder?
‘No! Everyone says that but it wasn’t Madonna it was Samantha Fox. It was me.’
That must be really annoying. ‘It is! Now come and see my pervert’s corner.’ She leads the way to a downstairs loo hung with photographs of herself posing with the great and the not so good of the 1980s. Look, there she is with Freddie Mercury (‘I loved Freddie’), Linda Lusardi, Lemmy from Motorhead and Boy George alongside — whoops — disgraced former stars such as Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris.
Sam does an impersonation of Rolf following her around a television studio, his hands reaching towards her breasts. ‘ ‘Well you’re a pretty little girl, ain’tcha,’ ‘ she mimics.
‘But I never had any trouble. I was always accompanied by my mum or my dad. Except for that time with David Cassidy, of course.’
In her autobiography, Forever, she details how the heartthrob star sexually assaulted her in a restaurant loo following a photoshoot they did together in 1985. And how embarrassed she was, because he had an erection the entire time they were in the studio.
‘Well, I just ignored it. As you do,’ she says. ‘It was all a bit of a shock. He was my idol. When I was a kid, I had a poster of him on my wall and I used to kiss it every night. But he turned out to be a creep. He pushed me against the wall in the loo and tried to stick his tongue in my mouth.’
She was 19 then and, after getting fed up of ‘men pinching me arse all the time’ she had taken a martial arts course to defend herself. It came in handy. ‘I kneed David Cassidy straight in the b***ocks and smashed my elbow into his chin, like this.’
Then she went back to the table and carried on eating her pasta. ‘He was in pain. He didn’t come out for half an hour and when he did, he couldn’t look me in the eye.’
She was sexually assaulted on one other occasion, by a hotel worker when she was on holiday in Mauritius, repelling his advances in a similar way. ‘You’ve got to show them you’re not scared, you’ve got to be quick, you’ve got to commit to your own self-defence.
‘Do you know what I think?’
‘More women should do martial arts courses.’
To think of Sam and her pneumatic rise to fame is to understand how such a trajectory could never, ever happen today; the sexism, the exploitation, the absurd innocence of another age.
Samantha Fox was 16 and studying for her A-levels when she posed in a Janet Reger body stocking for her very first Page 3 shoot.
‘Mum bought it for me. She said, ‘If we are going to do this, we are going to do it classy.’ ‘ Sam was confused when the photographer turned on an electric fan. ‘Because it wasn’t a hot day. But they do it for the nips, you know,’ she says, nodding towards her chest.
Her life as a topless model was bookended by Sun headlines. The first, in 1983, read: ‘Sam, 16, quits A-levels for ooh-levels!’
Following publication, she was promptly expelled from her Roman Catholic school but couldn’t have cared less. She had already embarked upon a journey that would see her become the country’s most successful topless model of all time, quickly insuring her boobs for £1 million and indulging in the classic triumvirate of working-class triumph by buying a racehorse, a wine bar in Tottenham and a red Mercedes sports car.
‘And then on my last Page 3 they had a gravestone saying, ‘Thanks for the mammaries,’ ‘ she says. ‘Those pictures were taken by David Bailey and you know what?’
‘They weren’t very good. He had a skylight in his roof and he decided to use natural light that day, how arty. And my hair was horrible. I said, ‘Don’t curl it too much cos if you do I will look like Dolly Parton.’ But they went right ahead and I didn’t look like Dolly, I looked Kevin Keegan.’
Sam’s sexuality was never an issue, not at first. On the pill at 17, she had physical relationships with a series of boyfriends, including the serial conman Peter Foster. He sold stories behind her back, got her involved in a slimming tea scam and also ripped off Cherie Blair.
‘At least I had an excuse. I was young and naive. Cherie Blair was a QC. She went to university! What was her explanation? Anyway, I will never forgive Peter, never.’
Alongside her David Cassidy posters, she also had one of Bionic Woman Lindsay Wagner. ‘And I liked her more. I loved the scar on her lip.’
She reckons that she knew during her Page 3 days that she was gay and that her mother had known for ever, not just because she always wanted ‘an Action Man and a new pair of loafers’ for Christmas.
‘I had a couple of kisses with women and stuff like that. And really enjoyed them, you know. I thought, wow. Oh this is nice. This is different. I haven’t been with a man for over 25 years. My last boyfriend was a Christian and I didn’t even have sex with him.’
Sam didn’t officially come out for a long time because she worried about alienating her fan base.
‘I wanted to come out before, but I was so scared. I was still adored by so many men. Ten thousand boys would turn up when I opened a shop and most of them wanted to marry me. I didn’t want to ruin that. But by the time I was with Myra, most of my fans had grown up and got married themselves. I wasn’t this fantasy any more. I was no longer their dream girl. It didn’t matter.’
She has her own dream girl now and the pair of them seem delighted with each other. They first met at a gig in Oslo, when both were with other partners, but fate intervened and later brought them back together again.
‘She was on my radar,’ says Sam, who is now in the kitchen mixing the steroid gargle she has to take each night before her throat operation. ‘You don’t forget a face like Linda’s. I just couldn’t get her out of my head.’
The new brides are going to need each other more than ever in the difficult days ahead. ‘But we are both survivors,’ says Sam.
Let’s all drink a virgin prosecco toast to that.