13 unashamed and unabashed queer moments from Freddie Mercury, the greatest showman of all time
Freddie Mercury. An asteroid soaring between Mars and Jupiter has been named after him.
A box-office obliterating biopic made in his honour. A concert in 1992 raised around $35 million for AIDS research to pay tribute to him.
Queen was never a run of the mill band, and neither was its mystical, moustachioed frontman, Freddie Mercury.
The lead singer of the 1970s band died 24 November, 1991, of AIDS-related complications. On the 29th anniversary of his passing here are 13 unashamedly queer moments from Mercury:
1. The time he casually wore a feathered rainbow coat at a gig in Oakland
Pride-goers, eat your heart out. Every outfit Mercury wore on stage captured his unique blend of pomp, camp and glam.
“I have fun with my clothes onstage,” he explained about his style in 1986. “It’s not a concert you’re seeing, it’s a fashion show. I dress to kill, but tastefully.”
2. When the Queen singer wore a Queen of England crown and Royal robe (with sneakers) at Wembley Stadium
He’s rock royalty, and he made it known by strutting onto the stage a year on from his iconic Live Aid performance as the queen of Queen.
3. When Freddie Mercury told a reporter: ‘I’m just a musical prostitute, my dear’
The interview the frontman gave in 1984 became one for the history books after a reporter asked if he sees himself as “organised” as an artist.
Mercury puffed his cigarette in a blasé way, and delivered the one-liner with class.
4. Throwing on a bright and bold kimono in Tokyo
Mercury elected to wear a traditional kimono while the band toured in Japan in 1976.
They played the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo for a crowd of just under 15,000 people.
5. When he gave the sassiest reply to a reporter asking if he’s ‘bent’
In December 1974, a New Musical Express reporter asked the singer: “So, how about being bent?”
“You’re a crafty cow,” he said.
“Let’s put it this way: there were times when I was young and green. It’s a thing schoolboys go through. I’ve had my share of schoolboy pranks. I’m not going to elaborate further.”
6. Wearing a leather mini-skirt in the I Want To Break Free video
His moustache became the ultimate accessory in this dragtastic music video that allegedly proved too much for MTV to handle in 1984.
Mercury looked to Monty Python, British TV soap Coronation Street and pantomime for inspiration, but stateside viewers weren’t too impressed, thinking he was promoting “cross-dressing”.
7. When Freddie Mercury threw himself a 41st birthday party attended by some 700 people, including Kylie Minogue and Boy George
Around 232 broken glasses. A collapsed cake in the shape of Gaudi’s Sagrada Família. About 350 bottles of Moet & Chandon champagne opened in less than an hour. Three days of black and gold helium balloon-blowing.
After finding out he had acquired HIV, he threw the ultimate party to end all parties at Pikes Hotel, Ibiza.
8. Wearing candy cane-striped shorts and braces combo at a set in Las Vegas
Mercury donned a staggering array of short shorts while on tour. From black leather to teeny tight white.
9. Attending a ballet class in London in a sequinned unitard
Mercury studied art and design and adored the ballet and opera.
He even once danced with the Royal Ballet – a prestigious ballet company – for a special gala fundraiser in 1979 at the Royal Opera House.
10. Body Language, the music video that MTV banned
Set in a unisex bathhouse, drenched in leather outfits and filled with sweat.
The video that accompanied the track from their 1982 album, Hot Space, was way too much for the music broadcaster to handle.
11. When he wore a customised wedding dress to open a concert
In 1974, Freddie Mercury swung by the atelier of British fashion designer Dame Zandra Rhodes to scope out a costume. He found one, in the form of a pleated wedding dress.
She made a modified version of it for him out of heavy cream satin, without the skirt and with quilting rather than embroidery in the front, and he wore it with white trousers.
12. His interesting set of hobbies
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An interviewer once wholesomely asked if Mercury if he has any hobbies.
He cheekily replied: “I have none. I have a lot of sex. Try and get out of that one!”
13. Literally everything about Live Aid
The yellow military jacket. The Wrangler jeans and white vest combo. Does this need an explanation?
It’s all pure, queer magic from the bisexual singer, who surged back into the spotlight after months of disparaging, anti-queer speculation about his sexuality in the press.