interview: Grub Smith
Rolls-Royce have their Spirit of Ecstasy, Ferrari have their prancing horse, but Simon Le Bon, one-time frontman of floppy-haired rockers Duran Duran, has something even better. As he screeches up on his powerful motorbike, I'm greeted by the sight of his missus perched on the pillion seat, her knee-weakening, willowy body clad in skin-tight leathers.
She steps from the bike, unzips her jacket, then flicks back her head and shakes out what she calls her "helmet hair". As entrances go, it's impressive. But then most things about Yasmin are just that: the fact that she still looks 19 at the age of 33, the fact that she's kept her snake-hipped figure despite knocking out three kids, and - last but not least - the fact that, despite all those magazine covers across the world, rock chick celebrity and catwalk bullion that's come her way, she's still incredibly friendly and unaffected. Best of all, though, she hasn't given a proper interview in six years - but she's decided to make an exception for FHM. And so, after the important tongue-loosening addition of a bottle of red wine, here's all you need to know about the fabulous Mrs Le Bon.
It's nice to see you like a drink...
God, yes. We've got a wine cellar at home, and it tends to get raided whenever we have a night in. A friend of ours tells us what to buy as an investment, but I don't think it's going to pay for our retirement - because we usually get pissed, then say: "Let's have that good bottle." It always seems like a fine idea at the time.
So you're not one of those models who just drinks water, then?
No, I don't drink too much water. But I'm sure wine's got water in it. I mean, it's liquid, isn't it?
Good point, well made...
That said, I did go through a water-drinking phase after I read all those health articles saying how two litres a day was good for your skin, but I found it just made me want to pee all the time. I'd be on location in some mouldy van and I'd have to keep running off to the bushes. I reckon I've peed behind most of the trees in Europe during my career. And I once got caught short in the car on the Kings Road. I thought, "I can hold on, I'm a grown woman," but it got so bad I was driving cross-legged.
Did you feel obliged to buy a drink in the pub afterwards?
Any other tricky situations?
Hmm... well, Simon peed in our front garden the other day. But no one saw, and I reckon you can go where you like on your own property. It's a good thing to do in the garden, anyway - it wards off foxes.
Well, that'll certainly bring a ray of hope to all those chaps in pink coats when hunting gets banned. But moving on, how would you describe yourself in one word?
Disorganised, probably. But that's me and Simon. We never get it together to decide things, whether it's just going out to a restaurant or taking a big holiday. I think we set that particular mood right from the start with our wedding, because we only decided to do it the day before. He was on the phone all night inviting people, and we picked a cheap ring in Pinner. It was the most terribly fucked up affair ever.
Did you have a ceremony later to renew your vows?
We kept saying we'd have a big party one day, but we've been married 12 years now. Maybe we'll wait for our fifteenth anniversary, then have a massive fuck-off do.
Do you at least get those yearly anniversary presents. You know - paper on the first, then tin or pottery or whatever?
Hey, was I meant to get any? Ha ha, actually I said to Simon: "I don't give a shit about the crappy ones, but when the ruby one happens I want a really big, fuck-off Burmese ruby. Don't mess around!"
It's interesting you should mention that, because I read that you won't do adverts for "real jewellery". Why not?
Did I say that? Oh yeah, I remember. That was ages ago, when the diamond trade was coming out of South Africa. But you know what, your principles can change. As a person, if you don't evolve, you might as well be dead. If you wake up and think "I know everything that's right", then you're finished. You carry on growing as you get older, and if life teaches you one thing it's that you should keep an open mind.
Name one thing you can't stand.
Cricket. I didn't mind it when I was a kid growing up in Oxford, because my friends and I used to lie on the lawn by the booze tent. We'd get drunk and ignore the game, except when we heard clapping, at which point we'd go: "Oh yeah, that was brilliant. Well done, mate... Er, what happened?"
So presumably you've got a spare TV set at home, in case Simon wants to watch the test match?
We've got loads, but we still manage to row over who gets to pick the channel. It's good to have a fight, mind you. I'm half Persian, so it's in the blood.
No, I'm a Zoroastrian. It's not a religion really, just a basic set of codes to live by, which is what a religion should be anyway.
Zoroastrians are the ones who leave their dead on cliff-tops to be eaten by vultures, aren't they? Is that what you'll go for when you pop your clogs?
No. I want to be buried, but in a simple plywood box, not one of those thick, expensive oak coffins. Your body should go back to the earth, but those big coffins don't biodegrade. You end up turning to soup inside them. Apart from that, I don't worry about dying. I've done it in dreams. You're not meant to be able to do it, but I have. And you know what - it's bliss.
Do you always win arguments?
Genetically, I'm a really fiery, intolerant person. When I lose it, my temper can be horrendous. I literally see red. But I enjoy a good argument, too - thank God, because not a day goes by without Simon and I having a massive row about something. And we love it, because ten minutes later we're in each others' arms, laughing, saying "Fuck, that was great, wasn't it?"
How do you express your anger? Do you throw crockery or kick the cat?
We don't have a cat because Simon is allergic to them. And I wouldn't throw plates because I'd be thinking, "Hey, I've worked hard to pay for that." When I was young I used to get really physical, lift people up by their collars and throw them against walls, but as you get older you realise how lame that is. And anyway, because guys tend to be bigger and stronger, women have to find a more subtle outlet for their rage.
Like the testicles?
Ha ha, no. Actually, the best tactic with men is to show them how independent you are. Let them know you don't need them. And the big thing I've learned about arguments is, if you're in the right, you're going to be proved correct anyway, so you don't need to push it.
So when was the last time you really went berserk?
It was at the fashion shows at Paris, with a photographer. I don't have a problem about undressing in front of anyone, especially backstage, where it's a working atmosphere and you're with people who are used to it. But anyone can walk in, and there was this sleazy guy with a little Super 8 camera who was running after girls while they were tearing their clothes off to get changed. He did it to this one chick, so I told her, but she shrugged and didn't give a shit. Fine, but then he did it to me and I lost it. I ripped the film out of his camera, and after the show he had the nerve to come up and started bugging me to return it. Now I'm known in my profession for being really calm, but there I was in front of the world's press and fashion editors, threatening to rip this jerk's balls off, calling him every name under the sun. Funnily enough, a year later I saw the incident on a documentary about models. I loved it. I thought: "Yeah! I was right! That guy's lucky he's still alive!"
What's the best thing about modelling?
I get to gawp at incredible bodies, both men and women's. I'm not a latent lesbian or anything, but I love looking at beautiful women. I think women can appreciate another woman's beauty in a way that men can't.
So you've never wanted to be a man, then?
Only when I wish I was the Formula One world champion. I really love Grand Prix: I watch them all, and I read Autosport and F1 News religiously.
When you're driving, do you ever overtake someone and think "Mansell!"
I'm pretty aggressive, but you have to be in London or no one will let you pull out. I just go for it, and say: "You guys are going to have to stop now or drive right through me."
You must get a fair bit of road rage...
Too right. But I think that it's best just to smile and defuse the situation. I can't start driving like a maniac to get back at someone - I'd be a can of dogmeat in no time.
You once edited Elle for a special issue. Has that experience made you cannier in your dealings with the press?
I don't really do interviews anymore and I don't read the papers, so I couldn't give a flying fuck what they print. But the Elle thing was fun, mainly because I got to write about Ken Livingstone. He was a really intelligent guy who I respected; he had a very lively, curious mind. He showed me his collection of newts, then we sat in the garden and got attacked by wasps.
Did he try his famous chat-up line out on you?
No. What is it?
Haha. Well, I obviously didn't rock his boat. I've failed to pull again!
Never mind. But if you edited FHM, what would you put in the magazine?
God, I'd love to do that. Can you get the readers to vote me in?
It's not really that democratic a process, I'm afraid. But give us your manifesto anyway...
Well, it's always got those busty, sexy girls on the cover, and that's why I want to be in the magazine. Because there are some guys who fancy me and other women my shape. You need to be fed different images, rather than just that Baywatch thing. And, even though I don't like all those American "new man" types who run around forests bonding with each other, I think you could get men to be more in touch with their feminine side. A lot of guys seem to feel, "Oh, I better not get too in touch with my emotions or I could become gay." Well, so what - maybe you should have been gay in the first place! Just be happy, be confident. Don't be frightened of anything.
Do women have it easier than men?
No way. Men just breeze through life. Like, I have moments where Simon pretends he doesn't know how to work the dishwasher. That pisses me off. I think men have a charmed life. A charmed fuckin' life. They're not stupid because they're stupid; they're stupid because they're clever. They know, like any dog knows, that if you play dumb, whenever you do anything vaguely bright you'll be rewarded handsomely.
If men didn't exist, which animal would you most like to live with?
Hmm... well, I think that gorillas are really sexy animals. You know, when they sit there kind of quietly, just chewing. And they have very brooding, sexy eyes. Not that I'd fuck one!
What if you had to, to save the human race...
Well, okay then. Maybe. If the circumstances were that extreme.
Thanks for the headline. By the way, did you know that gorillas have really small penises relative to men?
Get away! You're only saying that because you're a bloke.
No, it's true.
Are you a size queen, then?
Whatever fulfills you is what works. Sure, size does matter. But I like a surprise, and the problem with big dicks is that they tend not to grow very much. The growing thing - that's the really exciting and important bit. Oh, hang on... I've just thought of something else I'd like to put in FHM if I was the magazine's editor.
Oh, yes? What's that?
If anyone wants to buy an Alfa Romeo Montreal 1974, fitted with right-hand drive and a V8 engine, I've got one and I'm only looking for £16,000. There, that's saved me having to put an advert in Loot.