entertainment

Erasure's Andy Bell talks bathhouses, bullying and HIV in new Attitude Heroes podcast

2017-05-22
One of the UK's first openly gay pop stars with more than 20 million album sales under his belt, Erasure frontman Andy Bell remains one of the undisputed icons of the '80s and '90s. In episode five of the Attitude Heroes podcast’ – available to listen to and download now – editor-in-chief Matt Cain chats to the legendary musician at his home in London in a rare in-depth interview which sees Andy talk about growing up as an effeminate boy on a council estate in Peterborough, his earliest sexual experiences, and the pressures of being one of very few openly gay celebrities in the '80s. Recalling a tough childhood in which he was bullied for his perceived effeminacy he says: "I was teased from really early on, walking into junior school and getting called girl and sissy and things like that. But I had no idea what being a sissy was or what being gay was…" Of his adolescence he adds: "I used to try and go cottaging in Peterborough but it was so small you couldn’t really… I was really, really frustrated to the point of when you’re boiling and explode over." After bursting onto the UK music scene with 1986's 'Sometimes' Erasure quickly became known for Andy's flamboyant performing style - but despite his lack of inhibitions of stage, however the singer admits the trappings of fame prevented him from ever feeling truly free to experiment as a gay man.   "I kind of feel kind of jealous of George Michael because I think he's explored every avenue that he wanted to and I don't think that I have…" the 53-year-old says. "I've been all around the world and everything but even going to bathhouses I would hardly do anything... "I remember one time being in Amsterdam and this guy was doing a blow-job on me and he goes, "Oh you really look like that guy from Erasure." And I thought, 'Oh, this is it now.'" He adds: "I've been to a few of those S&M-type parties and things but I've never surrendered myself to the full goings on in whatever is happening in there…" Elsewhere in the Attitude Heroes podcast, Andy opens up about the effect his 1998 HIV diagnosis had on both him and his late partner Paul, who had also been living with the virus prior to his death in 2012. The former chart-topper admits: "We just went through this very bleak, black period both of us, I think probably for about 10 years, where we were just oblivious, taking drugs, not even leaving the house, and my body was breaking down and I was kind of like in denial about it." Listen to the full interview with Erasure's Andy Bell in episode five of Attitude Heroes – available to download free from iTunes or other podcast platforms now. Attitude Heroes is produced by Wisebuddah and sponsored by the GREAT Britain campaign, which welcomes the world to visit, do business, invest and study in the UK, and also Jaguar. For more product information please visit jaguar.co.uk More stories: Arrested Development star comes out as bisexual Table for Two | ‘He said I was a lot nice than I came across on Twitter’