Sept, 1998 - Ralph Magazine
By Milissa Deitz
FIONA HORNE, lead singer with now-extinct Sydney band
DefFX, is a witch. Not that you'd notice by looking
at her, but she has written a book all about it. She
penned Witch, A Personal Journey while contemplating
her musical future as a solo artist, and took time out
to talk to Milissa Deitz.
Do you think you'd still be as popular as a witch
it you were ugly?
"I know our society has an elitist aesthetic attitude.
I try to focus not so much on being attractive, but
being healthy and happy in my skin. I've gone through
all the hang-ups and obsessions - weight, droopy boobs,
cellulitey bum, or whatever. One of the great things
about surviving through your teens and 20s with your
sanity intact is being able to accept yourself as you
"Being beautiful isn't about how well you scrub up
in cleverly lit photographs with nice make-up; it's
how you feel about because that always comes through.
I felt beautiful the day of the photos.
"In the past, I had to overcome the assumption that
I was a lightweight, blonde bimbo. I persevered through
being portrayed like that for about five years. I busted
through it by becoming a writer and showing people I
had a brain.
"To answer the question though, yes, I would be as
popular. If I couldn't back up my witchiness with an
intelligent mind and a healthy dose of common sense,
I would have been written off by now."
Given that you're vocal about being a feminist and
strong woman, do you think people will be surprised
to see you in RALPH!?
"I only agreed to do the shoot if I was in complete
control. I chose the photographer, the stylist - I chose
everyone involved. I respect the hard political battles
women have won because, thanks to them, I can now do
what I want, when I want. Part of being a feminist is
being happy being yourself, and these photos express
my femininity and my sexiness on my terms. I feel confident
that the photos are strong and passionate and sexy and
"There's a chapter in my book dealing with sex magic,
called 'Beds, Knobs and Broomsticks'. Witches consider
the body sacred and not something that can be debased
or handed over to the devil. We have a very healthy
attitude towards our bodies and sex.
"The union between a heterosexual couple is symbolically
represented at every coven gathering. It celebrates
the idea that a male and a female can create life -
and that's sacred. Ninety-nine per cent of all sex magic
in ritual is expressed symbolically. I certainly don't
think that's any more bizarre than the ritual of communion,
where you eat the body of Christ and drink his blood.
"We don't celebrate the union of a heterosexual couple
as being superior to that of a gay or lesbian couple.
All expressions of pleasure and joy are divine to the
Goddess and the God.
"Love and sex and sexuality, expressing a love of sex
and a love of life are all considered divine. I no longer
suffer the guilt I did as a Catholic schoolgirl, being
led to believe I had the choice of being Madonna or
whore. The parameters of witchcraft have encouraged
me to explore my sexuality in a far more constructive
What about orgasm as an energy source?
"People get too attached to the idea of orgasm as a
quick thrill, but an orgasm can be cultivated and expressed
far more profoundly than a quick 'wham, bam, thank you
ma'am'. Or sir. One of the greatest gifts of being a
human is being able to orgasm, and I think we should
take advantage of that."
How do you cultivate an orgasm? "In my book,
I talk about how witches doing sex magic - using the
power of orgasm as a fuel - focus on their body's power.
A male witch - instead of sitting in a corner jerking
off with a dirty magazine - would concentrate on the
ability his body has to have an orgasm.
"It's an all-engrossing thing; I'd liken an orgasm
to all the joy there is at the core of the universe.
You transcend the physical, you transcend the boundaries
of flesh and lose yourself in that amazing moment. You
cultivate an orgasm by focusing."
As a witch, is the pressure on when you're having
sex to give a man an out-of-this-wodd expedence?
"No. I'm in a monogamous relationship with someone
incredibly sexy who I love. We always have great sex
because we love each other. Being a mature woman and
being comfortable with my body helps. He appreciates
that I'm comfortable in my skin. I guess being a witch
helps, because I feel that my body is sacred and there's
nothing wrong with it, so I tend to be uninhibited.
"I'm not being taken; I'm sharing. I share my body
with my lover. We have lots of fun, and we have a pretty
wild sex life. We can be as raunchy and hard-core as
we want, but it's anchored by the fact that we love
"I think there's pressure for people to feel the old
the-grass-is-greener thing, but I think there's a lot
of validity in monogamy. Sex becomes deeper and more
profound when you can really explore another person.
"I also think people need to slow down. The pressure
on individuals to compete can limit their ability to
connect with others. Worshipping a nature-based religion
can help that - you're encouraged to get back to your
How often do you work 'skyclad' [naked]?
"Isn't it enough that I'm in my underwear on these
pages? Now readers have to imagine me naked as well?"
"OK. The last time I worked skyclad was with a group
of people. It was a women-only gathering. Part of the
weekend involved a ritual where we were all naked. It
was a very healing and empowering time. There were about
40 women, aged from 15 to 70. It was incredibly liberating,
there were so many body types and shapes: bodies that
hadn't had children; bodies that had had five kids;
bodies that had had five kids and 13 grandchildren.
"We're brought up on a diet of these two-dimensional
air-brushed images, so it was fantastic being surrounded
by real women. I wish more people could experience that.
Working skyclad is empowering, because there are no
illusions and no masks. It's about not having anything
between you and nature."
How are your plans going for a solo career?
"I've been recording demos and writing songs and developing
a big picture of what I want to do as a solo artist.
For the last few months I've been focussed on publicising
my book, but I have found time to work on my music.
"I'm working with a lot of different people, which
I find liberating after the strict creative parameters
of being in DefFX - after seven years that tends to
happen in any band.
"It's been fantastic writing the songs I want to write.
Consequently, they're very different to DefFX and lyrically
they deal with different issues. The lyrics, in many
ways, are more accessible to a greater part of the community
because they're less esoteric.
"Musically, I'm working with a lot of programmed sounds,
as before, but overall there's more of a pop feel and
a bit more of a groovier feel. The screaming and heavy
guitars are of the past. I might do that again, but
right now I don't feel like expressing myself that way.
I've got a new record deal, which is exciting."
How much more pressure do you feel as a solo artist?
"It seems like a sensible and obvious evolution for
me after so many years in one band. I've been in the
public eye for quite some time. As the lead singer in
DefFX, a lot of the attention was on me anyway. I've
learned how to enjoy that. It's something that can be
quite alarming - you can end up asking yourself, 'Where
does the public's opinion of me end and I begin?'
"If anything, I feel less pressure because a solo artist
is liberated from a lot of expectations you're expected
to be mutable, more of a chameleon. Plus, I'm not a
young girl. I'm a 32 year-old woman. If I was 21, I'd
feel pressure, but I know who I am at this stage of
my life. I still feel very creatively charged and ready
to go, but I have the benefit of experience.
"At this stage of my career it's not about raking in
millions of dollars; it's about feeling creative fullfilment.
Part of that is having other people enjoy and appreciate
your work. My greatest thrill is the feedback I get
on a one-on-one basis from the public."
Tell us about the book.
"Writing the book was part of the cathartic and healing
process I went through, over the band breaking up, getting
to know who I was and what I wanted again.
"It became semiautobiographical for those reasons.
It is full of anecdotal stuff about the band and my
relationships. Putting it together was like putting
an album together, except I did it by myself, which
could be why I feel prepared to pul out an album as
a solo artist.
"I thought the book could be seer, as just a fringe
thing - fans of DefFX would buy it, and that would be
"Part of my research involved talking tc academics
about the rising popularity of witchcraft ir Australia,
so I became more aware of the growing interest in the
mainstream community. I talked to Professor Gary Bouma,
from Monash University in Victoria, who recently completed
a comparative study of the 1940, 1991 and 199, census
reports. He has concluded that nature-based religion
- in which witchcraft forms a cornerstone - is the fastest
growing religious trend in Australia. There was an approximately
150 per cent increase between 1991 and 1996.
"People seem to be impressed by the book's honesty
an the slightly irreverent approach to the subject of
witchcraft I wanted the book to say, 'This is a sensible
"A lot of men have told me they've enjoyed the book,
and lot of men are drawn to witchcraft. Men are just
as frustrated a women are by the roles and stereotypes
they have to fit into in a patriarchal society."
Witch, A Personal Journey by Fiona Home is published
by Random House