FHM, October 1997
In Your Dreams!

She's got a body that's weakened more knees than Stuart Pearce. She's got a new album that's set to rock the charts. And now Louise is ready to get intimate with FHM.

 The City of Marrakech is famous for many things. For instance, there's kef, the local variety of marijuana; there are its many male brothels, once popular with gay guys like Kenneth "Carry On" Williams and the playwright Joe Orton (who paid tribute to the sexual eagerness of the urchins therein with the line "Ah, Morocco, where you can get brown in minutes"); and lastly there's the Crosby, Still & Nash hippy anthem Marrakech Express. But this month its citizens finally had something to be really proud of. Because Louise Nurding, the most lusciously-curved nymphet ever to brighten up and episode of Top Of The Pops, jetted out there for our cover shoot.

 The resulting chaos when she stripped down to her bikini in a side street included drivers leaning on their horns, a kerfuffle with various religious bigwigs, and large number of men walking into lamp-posts. That's not to say, of course, that the 22-year-old South Londoner has only been making waves in North Africa. Since she left girl-group Eternal two years ago, she's had a hugely successful solo career, touring, promoting and recording almost full time. The video for her single, 'Naked' made men around the world sit bolt upright in their armchairs and say "Crikey!", and right now she's launching her second album, Woman In Me.

 This is the sort of workload that would make most singers look as addled as Keith Richards, but Louise still appears sunny enough to front a toothpaste ad. Meeting up with her, your eyes are at once trapped by the caramel skin, blonde-flecked hair and - it would be useless to deny it - the pneumatic figure doing all the right things to a swooping V-neck top. People stare. And so they should: this is, after all, someone who has twice finished in the top five of FHM's 100 Sexiest Women In The World supplement.

 In person, however, she's friendly and fun rather than coming over like an unapproachable sex siren. The world that sums her up is "cute", and if you didn't know it beforehand, you'd never guess she was capable of growling the arousingly up-front lyrics to her new song, "You touch me deep inside, there's nothing left to hide... you touch the woman in me." And this is, perhaps, along with hard work and a genuine vocal talent, the secret of her success: she manages to be both girlish and grown-up at the same time. You can see this paradox in everything she does. Look at the innocent face and the raunchy dance routines. The fawn-like eyes and the va-va-voom body. The coyness in TV interviews and the hard-nosed business savvy it took to leave a hit band and make it on her own.

 Trying to find out the truth behind this strange duality is one of the pleasures of meeting her. But - as any sane man could tell just by looking at our pictures - not the main one, of course...
Now you've seen Marra kech, do you think you'll be moving out of South London?
 No way! I spent most of the time worried that the police would come and arrest me for indecent exposure. It wasn't as though I was being too shocking, but the obviously have very strict rules as to how a woman can dress. I find it sad, actually. Sure, its their culture, and I respect them for having the guts to keep it up, but that whole veil business seems really cruel to me. It's 110 degrees out there and they're covered from head to toe in black robes.

Well look on the bright side, at least they don't get many cases of skin cancer.
 That's true...

And as men can only see their eyes, it's probably fairer on the less good-looking girls.
 Hmm, they do say black is a slimming colour, I suppose. And, much as I'd hate to live there personally, I like the fact that people aren't obsessed about what designer labels you've got on and how good your body is.

That would hardly be a problem for you.
 You wouldn't say that if you knew how crap I used to be at pulling. I've never found it easy to see an attractive guy in a bar, say, and then chat him up like my mates do. I could never even get to the stage of exchanging phone numbers. I don't know, maybe it was fear of rejection.

Did you suffer a traumatic rejection when you were young, then?
 No, I was one of those sad kids who only wanted to sing and dance. I never thought about boys at all. I used to drive my parents crazy, especially on car journeys, because I'd be singing constantly. My dad used to open the windows so the traffic noise would drown me out, and if that didn't work he'd turn up the car stereo really loud. It would develop into a war of sound between me and his Motown tapes. mind you, he's forgiven me now.

What's in your car stereo?
 Nothing, because I've failed my test three times. But saying that, I have got a car. It's a green BMW. I bought it because I figured I might not be able to afford it later if my career slumps.

It sounds a bit flash to me. Do you agree with that theory that a sporty car means the owner has a tiny penis?
 Well, in case you haven't guessed, I don't have a penis at all. So I think we've definitely disproved that one...
Hang on, you said you paid for your car, but I read that the Spice Girls all got a free motor from their record company for doing so well.
 I haven't had anything like that.

What, not even a moped?
 Nothing. Anyway, I don't need a Mercedes SLK...

Do I detect a slightly bitchy tone there?
 No, haha. Good luck to them. Anyway, I think I'd prefer to get a Shogun. Something large and chunky so no one can run over me.

Who's the oddest person you've slept with?
 Oh god. Let's see... well, I don't know about sleeping with her, but Martine McCutcheon did crash at my flat for a few weeks. In fact, it's still full of her clothes and stuff, so if she's reading this, I'd like to say "Martine, please come and get your gear back!"

So there was no bed-sharing or anything?
 Calm down, she was in the spare room. I only mentioned it because I'll be moving out soon. I'm going to get a place with high ceilings, white walls, wooden floors, and some big modern art nudes hanging up. Tasteful, of course - I don't want to look at private parts in the morning. And i'm going to buy a big white sofa that I won't let people sit on. And I'll make people smoke outside.

Your parties will be fun, then. but it sounds a bit girly, which makes me suspect you're the type of woman who's still got loads of teddies and gonks on her pillow...
 Wrong again. I do get sent lots of fluffy toys, but I take them to the children's ward. I don't want them getting in the way on my bed.

Have you ever been badly injured?
 No. I sprained my ankle once when - funnily enough - I was moving my bed and fell off it. And I got a scar on my head when I tripped over a Hoover as a kid.

I'm amazed you get through those dance routines in one piece. Why not try something safer like... er... skinny dipping.
 Well, I haven't done it yet, but I certainly plan to. It's not something I want to let slip me by. It would have to be in a private pool, though, as I don't like fish.

>Why not?
 It's just I hate the thought of them wriggling by my legs in the water. And I've always been afraid of snakes, too.

Surely you didn't see too many of them when you were growing up in Lewisham?
 No, but there was Adam and Eve in religion classes. That was always enough to freak me out, even though the snake only gave them an apple...

Sigmund Freud would have a field day with you. However, moving on, you've toured the world...
 Yeah, and you should see my passport photo! It's pretty bad. I've got this chubby face and big teeth. Maybe you should print it in the 100 Sexiest Women and see what the readers think.

I dare say Teri Hatcher doesn't send hers to that many casting directors either. But I was going to ask you which country has the weirdest fans.
 That would be the Japanese. They have a thing about hair, and wherever I'd go, people would be trying to stroke mine. And even though they can't speak English, they learn all the words to your songs. Once, when I forgot the lyrics on stage, all I had to do was listen to the crowd screaming them out at me. I realised I could have been miming half the time, which would have saved me a lot of trouble.

Do you get pestered for autographs every time you go out?
 Sometimes it happens a lot, sometimes not at all. It usually depends if one person plucks up the courage to approach me, then the floodgates will open. Some of them don't even know who I am. I've had so-called "fans" look at my signature and ask, "So, what part do you play in Neighbours?"

Share one embarrassing secret with us.
 Er... how about, the first record I bought was I'm In The Mood For Dancing by the Nolan Sisters.

Pretty bad. But talking of sex objects, what do you find attractive in a man?
 It sounds corny, but the inside of him. I like feeling at ease with a guy. Everyone else says a sense of humour is the most important thing, but you don't want to laugh all the time do you? It would be too intimidating. I want someone to relax with, because, after all, you can only be passionate for an hour a day.

Most of us do well to last ten minutes. Aren't you asking a bit much there, as you are officially the fourth sexiest women alive?
 Haha, yes, that was very flattering. I was so pleased, I rang my mum. But I look in the mirror every morning and I know my faults, so I'm not taking it too seriously. Anyway, my girlfriends laughed about it, because they've seen me in a T-shirt and trackpants doing the ironing.

I'll send my shirts round.
 Okay, two quid a pop.

Sounds fair to me. And are you considering any other smart career moves? People must ask you to be in films and TV shows all the time?
 I'd like to do that one day, but it would have to be a part that was more than just hair and nails. I'd want to do action things, something a bit hard. I really respect things Demi Moore does.

You didn't see Striptease, then?
 Yes, and she was good in that. Her body's amazing. There's something about those big thighs...

Do you get hassled in clubs?
 Most people are nice, but I do get some rude remarks. Sometimes they'll be rude about my clothes - you know, "What are you wearing that for?" And one guy recently swaggered up to me in a nightclub and said "Are you going to sing?" I asked him whether he worked on his day off, and he told me really cockily that he was unemployed. When I said "Why are you so happy about that?" he replied, "Because people like you pay taxes so I can doss about all day," I can't think why he reckoned that line was going to work on me.

Talk us through your new album.
 It's a good mix of up-tempo stuff and ballads. The lyrics are obviously from my own experience of life, so they tend to be about falling in love.

So what does rhyme with Redknapp?
 Haha. No, I just mean that I don't have a dark, junkie past or any particularly hard times to write about. You know, Eric Clapton can do that, because he's really lived it. But, for me, this is a more complete album, and I want it to do well in Europe. You know, in places like Germany where I'm not big yet.

You could do a video in leberhosen, I suppose. Or put a bit of oompah on the backing track...
 I'm not that desperate to be number one in Berlin...

You lost your virginity at 18. Do you think that was quite late?
 Not for me. I was working so hard with Eternal that I didn't really have time to settle down seriously with a guy.

Did you read a lot of Jackie Collins stuff to prepare for the act itself?
 No. I did read those books, but not just for the sexy bits. I suppose it did teach me something, but I'm not telling you what!

One of the "facts" about you on the Internet is that you prefer tampons to towels...
 God, how do people find out things like that? They must be going through my rubbish. That's almost as annoying as when I was accused of having a boob job!

What depresses you?
 Whenever I'm planning a holiday, I get a few catalogues to chose a new bikini. And then I'll see those models in, say, the Next brochure and wish I had such great legs. Then I turn the page over and sigh, "Oh well, I won't go on holiday this year after all." And it'd be really annoying if I slipped down into the nineties in the 100 Sexiest Women. If that happens, will you just leave me out?

What's the strangest compliment that anyone has ever paid you?
 Er... well, oddly enough, I suppose it was when I was last in Morocco. It was when I was 13, on holiday with my parents. We were in the casbah, and this Arab guy came up to my dad and said, "Young girl, how much you sell her for?" It was like in a joke film: he offered 40 camels for me, and my dad pretended he was seriously thinking about it. He even tried to haggle it up to 50, but then I kicked him. God knows what he'd have done with all those camels in Lewisham, except maybe use them to keep the lawn short.