Need To Know: Shayne Ward
By Phillip B. Crook
If Shayne Ward weren't an international British pop star with a falsetto voice of gold, he could certainly have forged a career solely off his approachably good looks. But the 2005 winner of the UK's X Factor is more than a scruffy face, and he's ready for America to know it. With his third album, Obsession, and a new tour, Ward is making his debut onto U.S. shores. Out chatted with the singer about sporting hard nipples under a wet t-shirt (yes, you read that correctly), support from his gay fans, and what's playing while he's getting it on.
Out: Can we start with your tattoos? What's all that happening on your chest and your arm?
Shayne Ward: I've got a big tribal pattern down the right of my arm, but it's actually a cover-up of a leprechaun. I got it because I'm Irish and I've got three older brothers who all have tattoos, so I wanted to be like them. The problem was, every time I wore a t-shirt, a pair of legs stuck out. It didn't look good.
Do you have plans for future tattoos?
Yeah, I want to get a sleeve of all the things I love in life drawn up in a sketch on my left arm.
So no unicorn, ala Lady Gaga?
[Laughs] Definitely not a unicorn. I'll get favorite numbers, scripture, family names -- things like that.
We don't see much of your tattoos on your Gay Times December 2010 cover, but there is a lot of wet t-shirt. I always wonder, is that cold to shoot?
It's not that bad, actually. We shot it in L.A. and it's hot over there anyway. Somebody stood there with a spray gun just completely attacking me with the water. They didn't stop until they got that t-shirt absolutely soaked and stuck to my body. It's fun.
But if it's not cold, then why are you wet t-shirt guys always so nipply?
That was the photographer, who comes over, ruffles up the t-shirt and kindly walks away. And all the sudden, your nipples are erect.
A lot of straight male entertainers hesitate to embrace their gay fans, but you haven't. Why?
I think it's great. I've got a huge gay following. Pink power is important and I think everyone should embrace it.
Are the rumors that you're gay frustrating, considering you've been in a relationship with a woman for the past 7 years?
[Laughs] They're not. People are just quick to judge. I find it funny. Every male out there has a gay tendency in him -- that doesn't mean he's gay.
What do you mean every man has a gay tendency?
I suppose if you saw a straight guy with his legs crossed, people would automatically go, 'Oh, he must gay.' That happens all the time in the U.K. If you're a very tidy guy -- you clean up after yourself, your house, your kitchen -- they say that's a very gay thing. If you're clean-cut, if you're groomed, in the U.K. people are very quick to judge.
So you identify with David Beckham metrosexuality?
I don't go to the extent of being overly groomed, like David Beckham. Sometimes au natural is almost better.
You're hugely successful across the world, but this is your first chart release in the US, so let's introduce you. How do you describe your sound?
Traditional. I've got a real closeness with the songs I've recently done. It's a more mature sound now. I'm into big, atmospheric haunting vocal tracks. I don't really hear anyone else doing them. I'm really into listening to a song and getting lost in the lyrics.
I get a love-making vibe from your songs, like, 'Hey baby, I love you, now let's do it.'
A lot of the songs are like that. And it works!