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Sex & The Single Girl

With a date at the Olympia Theatre looming in December, and a much anticipated album on the way in the new year, these are crucial times for Sinéad O’Connor. In a remarkable interview, she also discusses her search for a man, the lovers she has known, sex, sex – and more sex. Plus: Ireland of the squinting windows and the Catholic Church...

Olaf Tyaransen, 05 Dec 2011

Jesus Christ!!! Sinéad O’Connor is well known for making bold, brave and provocative statements, but it seems she’s now taken to wearing them as well. When the 44-year-old singer cheerfully answers the front door of her seafront home in Bray, she’s vampishly dressed in a low-cut black frock which reveals a massive tattoo of the Son of God atop a heart and roses on her chest.

Bright, loud and garishly coloured, the tattoo is a seriously arresting image, like something you’d see inked on a hardcore Mexican gangbanger. Not wanting her to think I’m staring at her tits (which, admittedly, I’m also doing), I feel the need to make some kind of comment. Unfortunately, words fail...

“Eh… wow! That’s quite… em… like… em… Wow!”

She tells me she had it done in LA a few weeks ago, but doesn’t particularly want to discuss it. “There’s nothing worse than people talking about their tattoos or going on about Jesus,” she explains in her quiet and husky voice. “So I don’t do either. All I’ll say is that it took about three hours and was probably the worst fuckin’ pain I’ve ever experienced.”

Whatever about the religious skin art, Sinéad is looking better than she has done in ages. Recent photographs tended to make her look haggard and, well, a bit like she couldn’t be bothered about her appearance. Today, though, she looks more like the Sinéad of old – shaven-headed, slim and ever-so-slightly sultry.

She attributes this renewed interest in her looks to the nagging of her teenage daughter, Róisín. “I am not inclined to care, but now I have a 15 year-old daughter who cares,” she laughs. “She kicks my butt the whole the time. She doesn’t like me not caring. She’s quite into clothes and make-up, and she likes me to make an effort. She’s like a fucking Nazi! But it’s lovely having a daughter of that age. They’re all so girly – so you get to be a girl yourself.”

With two tiny Yorkshire Terriers snapping around her stiletto-heeled boots, Sinéad leads me through the house – which is spacious, high-ceilinged and feels comfortably lived-in – and out into a wooden structure in the back garden. Inside it, despite the framed pictures of the Virgin Mary on the walls, is a room built for decadence. There’s a large double bed, a couple of couches, a stereo, a small range with a roaring fire, a well-stocked fridge, and a bathroom.

She shares the house with her four children (who range in age from five to 24, and were all fathered by different men) and two male nannies, some of whom variously use the shed as a party/chill-out zone at different times.

“I always made it like I didn’t want my kids to be out in the street or round somebody else’s house, doing whatever the fuck they were doing,” she explains. “I just want to make sure they’re all here. So I always set it up that this was the party house, or this was the gathering house. So I had a good eye on everything they were doing and everyone they were doing it with.”

She’s doing this interview to promote her Olympia show on December 18. Although she played the Main Stage at this year’s Electric Picnic, it’ll be her first proper indoor show on home turf in about five years. “I’m pretty much always touring, but I haven’t played Ireland for ages,” she says. “Aside from Electric Picnic. That was a good gig. Apparently loads of things went wrong, but I didn’t notice. The band was apparently having a terrible time – but I had a great time.”

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