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Holly Johnson

Gay British Lyricist & Singer, Painter, Multi-Media Artist, Writer, Video Director
"Aquarians go out of their way to appear different and unusual."
-- Holly Johnson (A Bone in My Flute, p. 113)

Astrology chart, profile, books, music, links

Leo Ascendant, Aquarius Sun, Cancer Moon, Uranus Rising

Holly Johnson's astro-chart

ASTRODATA: William Johnson, 9 February 1960, 16:15 (4:15pm) WEST/GMT, Wavertree, Liverpool, UK (53n25, 02w55). (As stated by Johnson to Sy Scholfield [copyright] in an email in February 2001, writing that his father told him that he was born "about four or half past four" in the afternoon. The median time of 4:15pm (between 4 & 4:30pm) has been used. RR: A).
NB: Johnson also cleared up the confusion over the other birth data that has appeared in various references which state that he was born on February 19th, 1960 in Khartoum, Sudan. Johnson says this date no doubt came about through a typing mistake. "Khartoum" ("sounds exotic don't you think"!) was his fun answer to a journalist's staple question after a long day of interviews. This link with "Khartoum" has nevertheless entered popular culture, particularly as the answer to the Trivial Pursuit question, "Where was Holly Johnson from Frankie Goes to Hollywood born?"!! Talk about having Neptune on the base of one's chart (confusion about one's background) dispositing Mercury (names) conjunct Chiron (puzzles) sextile Jupiter in Sagittarius (popular culture) in the 5th House (of games)!
FEATURES: PERSONALIZED PLANETS: Leo URANUS (conjunct Ascendant, opposite & disposited by Sun), Scorpio NEPTUNE (conjunct Base, trine Moon), Capricorn MARS (semi-sextile Sun, opposite Moon), Aquarius Sun (conjunct Descendant, rules Ascendant), PATTERNS: KITE (Pluto, Neptune, Saturn, MH); MYSTIC RECTANGLE (NEPTUNE, SATURN, VARUNA, MOON), GRAND SEXTILE (Mystic Rectangle plus 2nd & 8th House cusps), TRIPLE CAPRICORN CONJUNCTION (Saturn, Venus, Mars). MUTUAL RECEPTION: URANUS in LEO opposite SUN in AQUARIUS. SHAPE: LOCOMOTIVE (Moon in Cancer in 12th leads). CHINESE SIGN: METAL RAT. NUMEROLOGY: "9" LIFEPATH.

Openly-gay pop singer, Holly Johnson, came to fame as the frontman of the mid-1980s British dance band, Frankie Goes to Hollywood (FGTH). After their single, "Relax," was banned by the BBC, the band received such phenomenal and instant success that they were described as "bigger than the Beatles." Most of this largesse was due to the antics of Johnson, the outrageous and out Queen who founded FGTH, came up with the band's name, and wrote and sang the lyrics of "Relax" and other chart-topping FGTH singles like "Two Tribes" and "The Power of Love." By 1985, Johnson -- with his handsome blue-eyed poster-boy looks -- had become "the most photographed Queen in England." In his 1994 autobiography, A Bone in My Flute, Johnson candidly discussed his rise from humble Liverpool beginnings to global superstardom, while unequivocally speaking out against homophobia and revealing his HIV+ status. Today a successful painter as well as a musician, Johnson has an official website, www.pleasuredome.co.uk, that contains examples of his vivid artwork and info on his most recent recordings.

With Leo Rising, Holly Johnson has been affected in big ways by the imagery and traits of the astrological sign of the Lion. Born William "Billy" Johnson with a Leonine mane of dark auburn curly hair, this creative and fun-loving individual expresses all that's typical of a person with a Leo Ascendant, even if his Aquarian Sun has led him to do so in atypical ways. Those with Leo-rising are born to be, have, and make fun, and so the debut album for FGTH was called Welcome to the Pleasuredome. Johnson today even uses the Pleasuredome title for his own label and as a trademark for his website.

Johnson originally made his visual mark in the video clip for "Relax" which includes extraordinary shots of him being pounced upon by what seems to be an uncaged live lion. "The lion was a cub called Tessa who appears small on the acreen, but in reality she was about four feet long, heavy and with large teeth" (Holly Johnson, A Bone in My Flute, 166). At this time Johnson's Leo Ascendant was aspected by a daring quincunx from its ruler, his progressed Sun (at 12° Pisces) which had reached the cusp of his 8th House (which is associated with cages and sexuality). Meanwhile, his Leo Ascendant had progressed to 5° Virgo, thus forming a conjunction with natal Pluto, the sexy ruler of musical Neptune that, in turn, rules the sign Pisces that contained his progressed Sun.

Encounters with other Leo-rising stars such as Elton John and Andy Warhol (whose Leo Sun/Ascendant conjoins his Ascendant) would also provide pivotal moments for Johnson. An early (musical, fashionable, famous and erotic) inspiration, David Bowie, has his triple Leo (Moon-Saturn-Pluto) conjunction on Johnson's Ascendant. Along with Warhol's Trash, the teenage Johnson was influenced by the homoerotic film Sebastiane by Derek Jarman whose Chiron (at 11° Leo) also touches upon Johnson's Ascendant degree. Equally amazingly, Jean Genet, a seminal influence on Johnson's poetry and paintings of sailors, has his Moon and Ascendant (both at 12° Leo) right on Holly's Ascendant.

Johnson's Leo Ascendant is ruled by the Sun in Aquarius in his 7th House. His Aquarian Sun makes him quirky and well, quite queer. As he has said, "Aquarians go out of their way to appear different and unusual" (Holly Johnson, A Bone in My Flute, p. 113). This is especially so in Johnson's case because he has his Aquarian Sun ruling his Leo Ascendant, also opposite, and in mutual reception with, his Uranus rising in Leo.

The 7th House is a Libran-like zone particularly associated with relating to other people, so when the Sun is located in this house this part of life is more enhanced. Long-term relationships seem to have especially influenced Johnson. After several long friendships and erotic attachments with other men (including some interesting threesomes and relationship triangles), he settled into a loving, domestic and business partnership with Wolfgang Kuhle in the mid 1980s and they have kept together ever since (along with their 'only child' -- Funky, the white poodle).

The Sun in the 7th House is also associated with beauty and fashion, balance, love and peace. In the fashion stakes, FGTH was the first group of the 1980s to wear designer (Katherine Hamnett, Vivienne Westwood) labels, and as the singer in the band Johnson was most conspicuous in this regard. The mid 1980s hit song, "Two Tribes," denounced warmongering.

My intentions when I wrote the lyric, inspired by Mad Max 2, had been to depict the threat of Armageddon between the two most powerful nations on Earth at that time, the USSR and the USA, fighting over the last oil fields. (Holly Johnson, A Bone in My Flute)
With his Sun in the peace-loving 7th House ruling his Leo Ascendant, Johnson has also radiated through songs like "Love Train" and "The Power of Love."

A 7th House Sun can also indicate major legal battles. In 1988, as Saturn progressed to his 7th Cusp, Johnson made legal history by winning a court decision that set him free from his unfair recording and publishing contracts. With progressed Saturn opposite his regal Leo Ascendant, ruled by the Sun in his 7th, a large part of the dispute was over 'royalties.'

Uranus/Aquarius and Sun/Leo are associated with the Atomic Age. As a reflection of the mutual reception between his Uranus and Sun, Johnson named his first solo album, Blast. This platinum record that reached number one in the UK charts in 1989 lead to the hit single, "Atomic City."

Holly's Sun is conjunct Chiron, a planetoid that is associated with transgenderism. No surprise then that Johnson traded in his boyish nickname "Billy" for the girly name "Holly" sometime in his early 20s (during the early 'swinging '70s').

    We would fantasise about exotic stage names we would use when we were famous
    -- which we believed was inevitable. 'Holly', after Holly Woodlawn, the Warhol
    superstar, or perhaps Holly Golightly, was one of my favourites. On that night,
    the name just stuck. The androgyny of it suited me and the zeitgeist perfectly.
    (Holly Johnson, A Bone in My Flute, p. 53)
Interestingly, gay writer Truman Capote (who created Golightly) has his Mars conjunct Holly Johnson's Chiron, while Audrey Hepburn (who played Golightly so magnificently) has her 28° Aquarius Ascendant conjunct Johnson's Chiron. Johnson also expresses his Sun/Chiron conjunction through the hermaphrodite figure he uses as an icon on his website.

"Relax," the song that began Johnson's world-wide fame as the frontman of FGTH, was of course about the joys of cocksucking, delayed ejaculation and orgasm.

   Relax don't do it
   When you want to suck to it
   Relax don't do it
   When you want to come
   Come-oh oh oh
Orgasm is associated with Pluto, the planet of sexual release, and this planet's sign (Scorpio) and house (the 8th). Johnson has natal Pluto sextile and dispositing Neptune (in the Scorpio decanate of Scorpio), with Neptune ruling his Piscean 8th House. Moreover, the musical planet Neptune is also placed prominently at the base of his chart. With these strongly Plutonic~Neptunian factors in his astrological make-up, all that was needed was a set of major progressions to spark an intense and provocative musical and orgasmic release. As mentioned above, when "Relax" hit Number One, Johnson's Ascendant had progressed to conjunct his natal Pluto. Meanwhile, his progressed Pluto had quincunxed its ruler, Chiron. Progressed Neptune (at 02° Sagittarius), the ruler of his 8th House, had quincunxed his Sun-Moon Midpoint (02° Taurus). All this tension to be released, along with his progressed Sun in conjunction with his 8th house cusp!

In 1996, when his progressed Moon reached his natal Ascendant, Johnson held his first solo art exhibition, "The House of Holly," in London. He continues to paint nudes and other colourful artworks. Keith Haring and Andy Warhol have produced works with similar themes, and like them, Johnson has Neptune, the Sun and Leo prominent in his chart.

With Neptune in sexy Scorpio (at the base of his chart) in trine with his Moon in Cancer, watery themes seem to have had an especially profound influence on Johnson's creativity. Indeed, the Moon and Neptune in water signs have worked wonders. His homoerotic paintings (like the phallomorphic Sailor Joe) express an erotic association with water that draws back to the days when he first saw naked men in the changing rooms at a swimming pool. As he explains in A Bone in My Flute, there were "grown men walking round with no clothes on. My eyes were on stalks at these fit, tanned bodies, covered with pubic hair and wet from the showers." This inspiring experience excited him so much that he kept going back to see more and more! Aren't we glad he did!


Christie, Rose. "Holly Johnson." Attitude 1.1 (1994), pp. 74-?

Hattenstone, Simon. "I Will Survive." (interview). The Guardian 16 August 1999.

Holbrook, Calvin. "In-House." Fluid Jan/Feb? 2001, p. 79.

Holland, Jools. "At the Piano: Holly Johnson" BBC Online, ?.

"Holly Johnson" Knitting Circle: Popular Culture, 22 August 2000.

"Holly Johnson of Frankie Goes To Hollywood" (interview). Lexicon, no date.

Johnson, Holly. "A Bone in My Flute." London: Random House: 1994.

Smith, Richard. "Still Relaxed." Outrage May 1994: 24-27.

"Style File: Holly Johnson." Rage 12-25 September 1991.

Holly Johnson Dotcom

Holly's PleasureDome
(official website #2, art exhibition & bio)

Holly Johnson Fan Pages

(pix, discography, lyrics, interviews)

(from Legendary Children (All of them Queer))

Holly Johnson
(at Frankie Goes to Hollywood: The Warriors Return)

Music - CDs

© 2001, 2011
Sy Scholfield