Poster girls for their generation

Richard Fitzpatrick asks Irish celebrities to name who adorned their walls as teens

David Cameron admitted once having a poster of Cheryl Tiegs on his bedroom wall, while Kian Egan of Westlife opted for Cindy Crawford.

BRITISH Prime Minister David Cameron revealed in a television interview last week he used to hang posters of half-naked women on his bedroom walls as a teenager “like everyone else”. He was chatting to Carol Vorderman, who may well appear on one or two thinking-men’s walls herself, during a soft-focus slot dreamed up by his handlers to woo female voters.

He played up his beta male tendencies, including his love of baking and goofing with his three kids, and admitted his first celebrity crush was on Cheryl Tiegs, an all-American model and actress from the 1970s. He had a wall poster of the brunette, taken from a 1978 Sports Illustrated edition, togged out in a white, fishnet bathing suit. Apparently, the photo was so racy it prompted hundreds of people to cancel their subscriptions to the magazine.

It is unknown what, if any, posters his Irish counterpart, Enda Kenny had on his walls growing up. Perhaps, as Father of the Dáil, he had one of Raquel Welch in an animal pelt bikini from her movie One Million Years BC. Did his Minster for Health, Dr James Reilly, who is so averse to health spending, have one adorning his bedroom wall as a teenager? Possibly he had one of Ursula Andress emerging from the sea in Dr No. Maybe embattled Fianna Fáil’s leader Micheál Martin, who came of age in the seventies, had one of Charlie’s Angels.

“I had Béatrice Dalle on my wall,” says comedian Karl Spain. “She was the French actress from the film Betty Blue. It was from issue 2 or 3 of Sky Magazine, which started in the mid-eighties.

“It wasn’t a risqué photo. I don’t think it would have been allowed — a risqué photo wouldn’t have been available in Ireland in the eighties. Playboy didn’t go on sale until January 1996. Give or take. I don’t know,” he says, pulling a gormless face. “Until then we had to make do with a nice colour picture of Anne Doyle out of the RTÉ Guide or something from the shower section of the Argos catalogue.”

Britain’s Prince William had posters of teenage pop sensation Britney Spears Blu-Tacked to his walls at Eton while it is rumoured Kate Middleton had pictures of her future husband on her walls in Berkshire.

There are doubtless more than a few Westlife posters still hanging up inside Irish bedrooms. The group is in rehearsals at the moment for a farewell tour which kicks off in London’s O2 Arena at the weekend. Kian Egan, one of the band members, who is also a coach on The Voice of Ireland, had to vie for space for his wall displays back home in Co Sligo in the 1990s.

“I had a picture of Cindy Crawford on the beach and I had a Metallica poster of their album, Justice for All,” he says.

“Cindy Crawford was in a bikini or swimsuit of some sort on her knees and on her hands. It was a black-and-white photo. I was about 15 years of age when I put it up. There was nothing bad about it, really. I also had a picture of Pamela Anderson later in a cowboy outfit — in a pair of shorts and a red, checkered shirt.”

Some people didn’t bother with posters. “It never crossed my mind,” says Kevin McAleer, the comic, while his colleague Anne Gildea from The Nualas struggled to accommodate all the posters she had of David Bowie.

“I had posters of him in his underpants, in his spaceman truss — I love the word truss — David Bowie in his big, silly hair. I was absolutely obsessed with him and David Sylvian of Japan, growing up in the bog in Sligo.”

If girls are suckers for romantic posters, and possibly none more so than Robert Doisneau’s The Kiss by the Hotel de Ville, it would seem there’s no topping the soccer team photo for the boys.

“When I lived in college we put up a Man United team photo on the wall of the house,” says Spain. “We cut out our own passport photos and put our heads over some of the players. The team photo was: Giggs, Cantona, Finucane, Spain, Chalky White and Peter Schmeichel. One of the lads’ girlfriends, who is now his wife, is on it, actually. I still have the picture somewhere at home.

“There were five lads living in the house in Dublin. We always had people coming to stay. They’d nearly bring a passport photo with their head cut out.

“I remember getting really pissed off with someone. He took out someone big and put in himself. I think it was Cantona’s head. ‘You’ve kind of ruined the whole point of the picture. You don’t cover the main players. At least leave Cantona and Giggs and Schmeichel,’ I said to him.

“One of the other lads used a black-and-white passport photo because he wouldn’t spend the extra 50 pence. ”

* The Nualas perform at the Everyman Palace Theatre in Cork, on Saturday

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