Interview for Hello!

a fruit salad with...
Anastacia

Her voice has made her a global superstar, and now Anastacia is judging the singing abilities of others on TV talent show Don't Stop Believing. "I love the title," she tells HELLO!. "I've always lived by those words. You need personal conviction and faith in yourself to succeed." It's a mantra that has seen the 41-year-old – born Anastacia Lyn Newkirk in Chicago – through some dark times, including her 2003 battle with breast cancer and, more recently, the breakdown of her three-year marriage to her former bodyguard, Wayne Newton. Over a platter of exotic fruit, the New York-based singer talks health and happiness, and tells why she might become "Momastacia"...

Who would you most like to join us?
Barbra Streisand. She's been in my ear since I was a kid; my mom played her records all the time. I find her very beautiful visually. As a woman she's always held herself gracefully.

Are you a pudding girl?
I love puddings. My best recipe for sour scream apple pie was passed down from my grandmother, but I have had to watch what I eat since I was 12 when I was diagnosed with Chron's disease, an inflammatory condition of the bowel. I've had times when I can eat anything I want, but then milky products or fibre give me a setback.

So you've lived with health problems since you were a child?
Yes. When I was 12, I found a lump in my abdomen and that's when doctors discovered I had Crohn's. I have a four-inch scar on my tummy where surgeons removed this mass from inside. I used to be ashamed of this scar but by the time I was 30 I didn't mind flashing my belly. To me the scar is like a war wound; it proves I survived.

And then you battled breast cancer in 2003...
I've always been top-heavy in the bust department and had gone for a consultation about a breast reduction. I didn't feel comfortable about being a sex symbol, I was a singer with a voice and attitude. When I was younger, I was a tomboy, playing dodgeball with the guys, I didn't want to be defined by my breasts. Just as well, because the scan showed up the cancer. I had to have surgery and radiotherapy.

How did you get through it?
My music helped me. If I look back at my third album, Anastacia, I realise I was doing whatever I could to get out of the idea of having cancer. Writing music was my way of saying to the cancer: "You can't take music away from me." It was very difficult, though. I was trying to put myself in a studio and make my brain think, which wasn't what my body wanted. It was telling me: "Girl, you're a patient," but I was replying: "No, I'm a singer!"

And now you are helping other women combat the illness...
I set up the Anastacia Fund to promote awareness. Once I found out that although 30 per cent of women have hereditary breast cancer, the remaining 70 per cent have the cancer I had, which was perhaps an environmental-, stress- or food-related cancer, that freaked me out. My message to other women is: "Get checked up."

Which part of your body do you most like?
My eyes. My eyesight was so bad that I used to wear glasses all the time. They were part of me. When people asked me to take them off for a photoshoot, I'd say: "No, can you take off your pants?" But the turning point was laser surgery in 2005. I could see clearly for the first time, but I was also forced to look at myself. Funnily enough, I'd preferred myself with glasses, but now the eyes I thought were beady were open and I could see.

What are you like as a judge on Don't stop believing?
I'm up-front and direct, but when I give criticism, it's constructive. Simon Cowell has a reputation for being cruel in The X Factor, but I think he's directly honest and although I might not have expressed myself that way, I agree with him most of the time. It's a bit of a performance and makes great viewing.

Have you ever stopped believing in yourself?
I've had my moments because I'm my own worst critic. On a daily basis I analyse myself and ask: "Did I say that right? Was that rude?" But I try to learn from my experiences. I always had faith I would be okay. Like a rubber band, sometimes you have to pull harder, sometimes it snaps back.

What kind of men attract you?
Funny guys, but I also like men who are opposite to me. Now I'm finding myself drawn to different types. This young surfer dude was on American Idol and I thought he was cute. Does that make me a cougar?

Who's your ideal date?
I would never turn down Sir Elton John. We're good friends and he's a great "date" to have. He can become camp, but he takes care of you in such a masculine way.

You once said you wouldn't have children. Is that still the case?
I'm not sure. I would consider adopting, actually. I'm feeling maternal, like a "Momastacia" I love buying presents for my godchildren. In fact they call me "Anna Claus". It's so much more fun buying for others. I have everyone's birthday down in my book. That's what calendars are for.

Are you a perfectionist?
I'm a typical Virgo, so yes, I'm fastidious, with an eye for detail. I'm very organised, anal, even.

What's your biggest fashion surprise?
Seven years ago, I bought a Dolce & Gabbana dress with tulips on it. Something in my head told me I must have this dress. But whenever I looked at it on the hanger, I thought: "Tulips? I can't wear a dress with tulips." But I put it on a few days ago and, girlfriend, that dress is so hot. To die for! Love it! I finally got to cut the tag off.

INTERVIEW: SALLY MORGAN
PHOTO: GAVIN SMITH

Don’t Stop Believing is on Five on Sunday evenings.

Where we met
Soho House, 40 Greek Street,
London W1

Why?
"I love the old English feel, the oak-panelled walls and squashy sofas in the drawing room. They do a pretty mean burger and fries here, too."

Who else goes? Everyone who's anyone, from Lady Gaga to Emma Bunton, Meg Mathews, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Macpherson, Kate Moss, Alan Carr and Danny Dyer.

Source: Freaky_Mari and Star from AFU.com