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Brand new kiwi Boyband: Spot the gay one

Sun 24 Sep 2006 In: Music View at Wayback

The Edge radio station's nationwide search for boy band members got well over 1,000 wannabe stars respond – among them was Wellington postie Robert Arnold. Robert, 24, is perfectly happy to be known as 'the gay one' in the group. "I've got no problem with it at all," he tells "Each of us is being packaged as a particular stereotype. We knew what we were getting into when we auditioned, and we're all like our names. The Mummy's Boy is innocent, naive, can't even do his own washing or cooking, and lives at home still. Hot Boy acts like a player. Bad Boy had a criminal record. And Fat Boy's fat! Well, he's fatter than the rest of us." As a huge fan of boy bands, girl bands, manufactured pop music in general, this opportunity is a dream come true for Robert. “I've been singing since the age of about nine or ten, for school choirs, and I started doing theatre at eleven. I wasn't a dancer though. That's a challenge for me. I'm the token 'white boy' in the group and I feel like it, with my moves! "I'm getting to know my band mates very well – we're always together, as we've been traveling a lot and doing so much. We've been out drinking together too. So far we haven't had any fights. We get on really well. They all accept me for who I am, what I am." A couple of Robert's friends heard about the competition, and thought he'd be perfect for the band. "I thought about it – I didn't think it was a serious thing at first, and I wasn't taking it seriously, because I'd had so much rejection in the past. It wasn't until they asked me to come in for a live audition that I thought 'this could be all real'. "I'd auditioned for all three NZ Idols, a show called Showstoppers about four years ago. I was disqualified from that one for auditioning twice! I've done The Ultimate Challenge, which was a hideous sailing reality TV show. I got seasick in the first three hours. And the show was taken off primetime after only three episodes anyway." Robert filled out an on-line application, including a photo, and within the week, the radio station summoned him to a live audition. "They started in Wellington, so I was the first person in the whole country to audition. I thought, it's based in Auckland, so they're probably going to pick someone from Auckland. But a week later they asked me to come up to Auckland for the ‘top ten'. When it got down to the top ten, there were two people of each type – so two gay boys too, me and somebody else. They called us live on the radio at specified times, and announced the votes live on-air. I was pretty excited. My boyfriend was crying." It hasn't been all good tidings though. Shortly after the band was selected, the company supposed to sponsor his clothes pulled out suddenly. "Apparently it was because they didn't want to be associated with somebody gay – a gay person representing their clothing company. Fat Boy also lost his sponsorship deal for the same reasons. They didn't want the fat person to be seen in their clothes." Robert has a boyfriend - Paul is 36, and they've been together just under two years. "I love him to pieces," says Robert. "We get on like a house on fire and he's probably my best friend as well. He's been very supportive, but it's hard to be away from him for so long while I'm traveling with the band. But he says he can speak to me on the phone, as well as hear me on the radio, and see me on the TV and in magazines! Thankfully, they've kept me so busy that I can't dwell on not seeing him." The band's already appeared in Woman's Day, Sunday News, TV One News, C4 (twice), and had loads of radio publicity – all before they've even had their first single out. So what does Robert's family think of his newfound celebrity? "I think my mother's slightly skeptical about it, because I've done so many auditions before, and been so excited about other stuff that hasn't happened. But my dad is really ecstatic about it. He thinks it's going to be the time of my life. He's going around telling everybody he's Gay Boy's dad! This coming from a guy who runs a panel shop, that's pretty amazing, I think. I'm so proud of him." The band's first video premiers on C4 at 5pm on Monday 25th September. Their first single is a cover of The Kink's classic You Really Got Me, and goes on sale Monday 2 October. Matt Akersten - 24th September 2006    

Credit: Matt Akersten

First published: Sunday, 24th September 2006 - 12:00pm

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