Another arena where Tutti has long done what she wanted is fashion. Unsurprisingly, as is usually the case when a person is considered something of a style icon, it’s not something she’s ever taken particularly seriously. “It’s always just reflected my life and what I was doing at the time,” she tells me. “I was very into Mary Quant and Chelsea Girl and all those things until I was about 15 or 16 when I became less bothered. I was quite lucky, because my mum taught me how to make things myself. I couldn’t wait to become different from everyone else, rather than be the same.”
Her stage looks, however, are a different story. Decked out in fetishistic, skintight latex, studded leather bras, PVC corsets, and rubber hotpants, the (often homemade) costumes Tutti wore were intrinsic to her performances and served to further push the boundaries of sexuality, gender, and the body.
“Sometimes I’d just wear nothing, or I’d end up wearing nothing, but I’d often use material to bind things – my legs would be bound, for example, which rendered them objects and introduced them as part of the performance, so my body was part of the presentation,” she explains. “We (Throbbing Gristle) also wanted to present as an industrious, disciplined unit, which is why there was a kind of uniformity to what we wore on stage – which also neutralised gender.”
Later, as Throbbing Gristle disbanded and Carter Tutti found their feet, the duo’s gigs in fetish clubs informed Tutti’s looks. “It was important I was in the zone when I was doing songs about the dangers of sex or the enjoyment and the pain and the love of sex,” she says.
Notably it’s mostly clothing from this era that the musician has kept tucked away in her wardrobe and storage. “I have all my stripping costumes, and some of the fetish gear as well,” she adds. “I actually went back to look at some of them and latex rots down, so I’m just left with this backing, with all the buckles and studs and whatever else in place, which in itself is quite nice.”
I (selfishly) suggest that, given a biopic based on her 2017 autobiography Art Sex Music is currently in the works, now might be a good time to put her costumes on show as part of an exhibition. “We did actually include a few pieces in the TG24 exhibition, including a pair of blue Nike running shorts I wore in a Throbbing Gristle promo shot,” she responds. “I was standing there looking into the case, and a girl came up and stood next to me and said ‘Did you really wear those?’ And I said ‘Yes, why?’ and I suddenly realised how tiny they were. I had no idea how small I was, and actually, I didn’t really care,” she laughs.
As well as the upcoming biopic, Tutti isn’t quite ready to let go of Delia Derbyshire. Landing next spring comes a new book which dives into the creative bonds that unite her, Derbyshire, and 15th century visionary mystic Margery Kemp. “When I was researching for the soundtrack, I picked up this autobiography, The Book of Margery Kemp, in a little bookshop,” she says. “The more I read up on each of them, the more surprised I was by how our worlds intertwined, and how we had all had to fight against society’s expectations of how we should be.”