Will Young is in con­trol

Pride Life Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - The al­bum 85% Proof by Will Young is out now.

He’s a clever one that Will Young. I’m not talk­ing about his de­gree in pol­i­tics from Ex­eter or the fact that he can get on Ques­tion Time or even that he makes pop videos about Th­e­seus and the Minotaur.

It’s the fact that he’s still here, putting out a new al­bum (a good one!) on a new la­bel with a new man­age­ment team years af­ter he should have gone the way of those other com­pe­ti­tion win­ners like Steve Brook­stein and Leon Jackson. By rights, he should have done a quick stint on Strictly, if he was very lucky, then a na­tional tour of Grease be­fore re­tire­ment in his mid-20s.

In­stead, he’s here in Soho House wear­ing a very clever shirt by Anne De­meule­meester he’s had on for three days, and wellies, be­cause he lives in the coun­try (Bod­min Moor in Corn­wall to be ex­act) and his dad reck­ons his legs look nice in them. At 36, he is a man at the helm of a still highly suc­cess­ful ca­reer. The fact that he’s at the helm and not dan­gling at the end of some­one else’s strings may be a clue to how that hap­pened.

“I don’t re­gret any of it,” he says when you ask whether he looks back over some of the stages in his ca­reer and cringes. Most tal­ent show win­ners tend to want to brush over their tracks and help us forget the Satur­day-night­spe­cial path to star­dom and that first dodgy sin­gle picked out for them by Si­mon Cow­ell.

“I did 20 weeks in a com­pe­ti­tion and peo­ple voted for me and I won it!” he says. “Fif­teen years later, I’m do­ing videos about Th­e­seus and the Minotaur! Who would have thought that, you know?”

It’s not just smarty-pants videos, ei­ther. The level of con­trol he has over his own ca­reer means he got to do an ex­cel­lently re­viewed stint in Cabaret in the West End as the Em­cee and starred along­side Judi Dench in Mrs Hen­der­son Presents…

“So, no, I love it,” he goes about his road to the top. “I think we have a spe­cial bond be­cause peo­ple voted for me and not many peo­ple have that. The peo­ple ba­si­cally got me signed. It wasn’t some ex­ec­u­tives in a room. They wouldn’t have signed a posh gay pol­i­tics stu­dent who was quite un­cool and didn’t write his own songs. You know what I mean?”

Maybe that’s true. Fif­teen years ago, be­ing a gay pop star – un­less you were El­ton John and had ma­jor clout – was pretty much un­heard of. But then, was Will openly gay at the time of Pop Idol? Wasn’t he dragged out of the closet the week af­ter his vic­tory by one of the Sun­day pa­pers?

“I was gay in that my friends and fam­ily knew so I wouldn’t have gone into a meet­ing with any­one and said, ‘I’m not gay’,’ he ex­plains. And we do need to re­mem­ber th­ese were very dif­fer­ent times.

“I didn’t do that within Pop Idol; ev­ery­one who knew me within the process was aware. I think it just would have over­taken what the com­pe­ti­tion was if I’d been open on the show. It would have been point­less. It was more man­aged be­cause un­for­tu­nately, it is a deal. Or it was a deal then, not so much now.”

Now we have Adam Lam­bert, Mark Fee­hily, Frank Ocean, Duncan James (or is he still bi­sex­ual?), Mika and, of course, the mighty Sam Smith, many of whom are us­ing their po­si­tion to push gay rights for­ward. Sam Smith has said he wants to help gay peo­ple come out wher­ever they are while Will has done a lot of work with Stonewall on chang­ing the way the word “gay” is used as a pe­jo­ra­tive term. And he’s up to speed on the sta­tis­tics of how hard many gay young­sters are find­ing it com­ing to terms.

“But the gay thing is still a big deal in films,” he goes on. “It’s not go­ing to hap­pen, is it? A ma­jor Hol­ly­wood movie star who’s gay. I ac­tu­ally don’t know why that is. When a straight man plays a

gay man, ev­ery­one’s so, ‘Oh, you’re so amaz­ing for get­ting over kiss­ing an­other man!’ Why don’t gay men play gay men’s roles? It’s a weird dy­namic. I don’t know why peo­ple have a prob­lem with it. It’s prej­u­dice but I’m not sure what the ac­tual deal is.”

As for Will’s own act­ing ca­reer, he’s still very much into it. “I’ve got a couple of things I’m look­ing at,” he says. “Cabaret took five years to sort out. I loved Cabaret… even though it called for full nu­dity.

“Not full frontal!” he goes. ”It was about be­ing gassed in the end, so I think that would have been too sen­sa­tional and taken away from what was go­ing on. But I did full frontal in Mrs Hen­der­son Presents… I don’t care! As a pop star, peo­ple al­ways think they’ve caught you out. It’s like, ‘We saw your knob!’ and I’m like, ‘I took my clothes off and there’s noth­ing else to see. It’s all there.’”

It didn’t hurt, mind, that Will looks pretty good naked. In the Minotaur video, for a track called To the River, there’s a glimpse of bum­crack that gives quite a fris­son and which his stylist is fu­ri­ous about. Just be­cause you’re clever, doesn’t mean you can’t be a bit of a tease.

“Fif­teen years later, I’m do­ing videos about

Th­e­seus and the Minotaur! Who would

have thought that?”

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