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Queen of Everything: Gemma Cairney


Imagine a world run by a rather nice famous woman...

Stylist's 24-hour issue: 11pm

Radio 1 presenter Gemma Cairney, 28, would be a Marmite queen with a fetish for gold body paint and an overwhelming urge to dance

I’d be called ‘Queenie’, because it makes me think of lovely Jamaican ladies instead. I reckon I’d be a Marmite queen that some people would be really into, and that others would hate. I have an imagination that’s too big for my own good. It makes me scared sometimes, it makes me really excited sometimes, and sometimes it makes it really hard to sleep. But I think if I was queen, my imagination would come in handy because I could work with some really great people to make awesome things happen.

I’ll hardly ever admit this, but my mum is my main inspiration. We’re always at loggerheads with each other, we both have really strong opinions and we’re both really emotional, but in fact she’s a cracking lady. My family is one where anything goes, you just have be silly; I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My coronation? I’d paint my body gold and be completely naked. Can you imagine? I’d flank myself with my friends, who would all be painted different colours, and we’d march, all the way to Hackney and east London where I’d have my palace. No matter how much people hate on east London and no matter how much people say it’s become gentrified, I’ve been there for nine years and it still fascinates me – it’s a bonkers place, and I couldn’t live anywhere else.

I’d keep a low profile. I find fame a funny concept. I think it offers a strange notion, which is unachievable. Some people really buy into the concept and live their life by it, but I can’t connect to it. I don’t quite understand it.

My friends call me a ‘super fun nightmare’. I’m different day-to-day, it’s a bit of a rollercoaster living with me, but in actual fact I think of myself as like a duckling – still learning from everything and everyone every day. I need to embrace that side of my personality more. Sometimes, it means I’m not as strong as I’d like.

When it comes to style, this ruler sometimes gets it wrong. I like to make myself laugh when I dress. I found out a long time ago that I like bright, shiny, ridiculous clothes, and I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon. I have made some major errors though. Recently, for an awards ceremony, I bought myself a dress on the day because I don’t fit the sample sizes. I’m so scatty I hadn’t got anything sooner. I was really pleased with it – it was Sixties style, really short with long sleeves and tiny white frill cuffs. I squeezed myself into it, but when I looked back at the pictures the next day I saw it for what it was – a classic faux pas on the red carpet. It was a bit too tight and I looked a little bit squished.

I’d stand up for abuse against women. One of the things that really gets my goat is domestic violence among young people. I’ve been in a violent relationship, between the ages of 12 and 17, and I just find the whole thing terrifying. Romance and love can make you a bit crazy, and young people can have incredible tenacity, but it’s got to be used in the right way.

This queen’s a feminist. Hell yeah! I love that the idea of feminism is so up for discussion at the moment, and that so many people are talking about it. There are so many vibrant, interesting, loud women chatting and getting passionate in their own time about feminism. There are women sitting in pubs right now, their hearts pumping full of enthusiasm about what it means to be a woman in modern society. It’s inspiring really.

You might be surprised, but I’m a really good cook. People don’t expect it, because I’m quite messy, but I actually really enjoy food. I don’t deal in measurements, which really annoys some people, but sometimes there’s nothing I like more than to whack on a record on my massive disgusting old record player and make a huge tagine.

Before I became queen I had some terrible jobs. I once worked in a lingerie factory, where I had to stick labels onto bras that were emblazoned with ‘pussy rock’. Then I was a tequila girl for a year, selling shots to bankers in Canary Wharf. That was awful, but it kept me fed in my early 20s.

I’d invest in a pub. I got really annoyed about a week ago when I couldn’t book somewhere nearby for me and my 10 friends to go for red wine and meat. I’d love to own a big lounge and a pub, so we could all go there whenever we wanted.

Regular discos would be held in my palace. I’d make everyone dance. It always feels good. On my radio show we used to do this thing called Gem’s boogie, where every day we’d just dance for a minute, I was so delirious from getting up so early!

Gemma Cairney is on Radio 1, weekends from 7am



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