Now meets Peter Stringfellow: ‘I’m so loved up with my wife Bella!’
Iconic nightclub owner Peter Stringfellow chats to Now about finally finding love with wife Bella – and how he even changes nappies now
On meeting the legend and gentleman that is Peter Stringfellow, the first thing that stands out, aside from his twinkly eyes and warm smile, is that he’s not wearing any leopard print. In fact, there’s none anywhere at his Stringfellows nightclub, which is where we meet to talk about his new line of lingerie. ‘My wife’s banned it,’ he laughs.
His dyed-blond mullet has been replaced by his natural white colour, too. But despite being 76, Peter buzzes with the energy of a man half his age. No subject is off limits and once you get him chatting there’s no stopping him. Thirty minutes turns into three hours as he talks about everything, including how he found happiness with his wife Bella, 34, with whom he has two children. And, of course, there’s time for Now to take a twirl on the famous Stringfellows pole…
Hi Peter, tell us about your new lingerie line…
Stringfellows is the most famous gentleman’s club in the world, so lingerie is a natural step for me. I understand what women like when it comes to underwear and you get a good idea of what men like too. My line is a Victoria’s Secret style of lingerie – not threatening, and very beautiful. And there’s a second range called After Midnight, which is more erotic.
Do you ever buy underwear for your wife Bella?
For Valentine’s I bought her couple of fabulous outfits. My wife’s 34 – she’s an ex-ballerina with the Royal Ballet, she’s given me two beautiful kids and she’s drop dead gorgeous. Of course, I happen to be incredibly handsome! And as you’ve probably noticed, I’ve got the perfect physique [pats his tummy]. Some people have six-packs – I’ve got one big one.
You’re a silver fox, Peter…
Thank you! We have a wonderful life together.
Speaking of hair, how do you keep those luscious locks?
The truth is I’ve no idea! It must have been all the vodka and champagne over the years.
Have you ever had a hair transplant?
I swear to God, I’ve never had a hair transplant. But I did have a facelift because I was starting to look like a chipmunk.
How do you know what suits women?
Surprisingly, not every woman knows what’s sexy. I have talks with all my dancers and there’s one question that comes up: ‘What is it about suspenders, stockings and belts that men like?’ It’s not something you can explain; just accept they do!
Is there ever an excuse for Bridget Jones-style big pants?
Never! Even if you’re 85, never.
Where’s your animal print clothing gone? We miss it.
There’s nothing in my club that’s leopard skin any more – it’s all black. I’ve got a leopard skin chair in my office that I hope to take home, but I want my wife in a really good mood before I do because I don’t think she’d approve. I’m allowed it at my Majorcan villa because the décor is colonial, but in my Gerrards Cross home there are no skins or colours.
Does she ban you from having it at home?
Yes. I’ve got one coat left that I wore when I first met her – but it doesn’t fit me any more.
Do you still have a mirror over your bed?
My wife won’t have it in our UK home! It’s in my Majorca house.
Has Bella done a proper makeover job on you, then?
Oh, absolutely! [Pete takes a phone call from his wife and coos: ‘I love you, baby.’]
Aww! You sound so loved-up!
I am, and I have to be home for my little boy and girl’s bath. I read her a bedtime story and she takes total advantage of me of course, and I end up reading three. I’m a hands-on dad.
Do you change nappies?
Of course I do! Pooey nappies too! I’ve done more than my fair share and I feed the kids. But my wife’s a wonderful cook.
So you’re just a normal family?
I’m not normal and I don’t think my wife’s normal, but we try to live a normal life. OK, we have gleaming cars outside in the driveway, but we live in a very affluent area.
How has it been having kids at a later age?
It’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I adore the children. I also have a 53-year-old girl and 51-year-old boy and four grandkids. So having my two youngest is like starting life again in a funny way.
When did you realise that Bella was the one for you?
I’ve done everything – I’ve played the rock star that can’t sing, I’ve been the nightclub owner, friend of the rich and famous. I met Bella and that’s when I became monogamous.
Mick Jagger recently became a dad again, too…
Ah! He had a child – there’s a difference. I’m a dad. Mick is not going to be a dad, let’s be fair. He’s a lovely man, but Mick Jagger is Mick Jagger. Mine was a deliberate move. The negative thing is that I’ll leave my kids when they’re young, but I will leave them a great grounding, with the best mother in the world.
Will you leave them money?
I’m not one of those like Sting who says he’s never going to leave it to their kids. I will do, and that’s why I’m still in business. When I go, everything will go to the wife and kids.
Have you ever had a go on one of the poles?
I was drunk once and I took a jump at it and then gently slid all the way down the bottom!
Does Professor Stephen Hawking still come down?
I wish he did because he’s my hero. He was having dinner at the club once, and this was when he could talk a little more through his computer, so I said: ‘I’d love to talk to you about the universe, unless you just want to watch the girls.’ He replied: ‘The girls!’ His visit is still the highlight of the 40-year history of the club. He took a shine to a girl called Tiger.
Do Piers Morgan and Simon Cowell still visit?
What If Katie Price had come and auditioned?
She wouldn’t pass, but Katie knows that. She came here when she was a Page Three girl and started getting a little bit paranoid that she’d been photographed. Katie is Katie – I admire her and I don’t think she’d want to dance at my club.
Who’s been your best celebrity visitor?
Jack Nicholson danced on the table! And another that may surprise you was Margaret Thatcher. It was for a Sunday night fundraiser. I asked if I could have my girls standing around and her people said no. She said to me: ‘I think your club is very beautiful, but where are your girls?’ I said: ‘Well, ma’am, I was told it was better that they weren’t here tonight,’ and she went: ‘Next time make sure they are!’
Did she ever come again?
Sadly, there was never a next time. But it was down to her that I got married. Every time I met her, she’d say: ‘Who’s this beautiful girl?’ and I’d say: ‘My girlfriend.’ And she’d say: ‘Girlfriend, Peter? You’re missing something!’ A few years later I bumped into her and told her Bella was my fiancée and she said: ‘So marry her.’ And I did.
Peter’s lingerie range is available from stringfellowslingerie.com