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Culture

Not Just For Boys

There'll be no guessing games with this boy band. All of the members of Marilyn's Boys are openly gay. But their music is for everyone.

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Marilyn's Boys may only like boys, but they musically want to reach everybody.

Sexual preference has always been a mystery among boy groups. Robbie Williams loved to tease about his sexuality. And when Steven Gately of Boyzone and Eloy de Jong of Caught In The Act outed themselves as a couple in 1999, the world caved in for thousands of pre-pubescent girls.

This won't be the case with Marilyn's Boys, though. The group's five twenty-somethings are all openly gay. But their sexual orientation is not supposed to be in the spotlight, says band member Jeremy Golledge.

"As far as our music goes, the fact that we're gay has nothing to do with it," he told DW-WORLD in an interview. "We are not just addressing a gay community. This is mainstream music and we're trying to reach everybody."

Of course, the boys do fit to certain stereotypes, as is the case in any boy or girl group. "I'm more the George Michael type, for example, and each of us has our own role to play," says Jeremy. Manager and producer Swen Gutknecht says the band was consciously put together with five different types, which are also very international.

Jeremy was born and raised in London. Andrim Emini's heritage is Macedonian. Ruan Ratnatunga has his roots in Sri Lanka and Canadian Yves Steinhauer grew up in Luxembourg. "The many nationalities was really a stroke of luck," says Gutknecht. "It helps everyone find his personal favorite."

A new market niche

Test-tube groups in the tradition of Take That, Backstreet Boys or 'N Sync have been successful in Germany. The girl group No Angels and the multi-cultural mixed-gender Bro'Sis are thriving on the domestic music market.

However, record label edel music decided to look at a different sector than their competitors. "They wanted to find five boys who are openly gay, have no problem with this and do something new in this area," Jeremy explains. Over a thousand gay men took part in the recruitment drive across the country.

A contest to find the name for the group didn't fulfill edel's expectations. "All of the suggestions that came in were so typical boy group," says Jeremy, and the label wanted something different. The 40th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe's death came up in conversation one day, and the executives liked the relation to an icon. Hence, Marilyn's Boys were born.

No manufactured pop

The band says it isn't worried that being homosexual could limit its fan community. According to Jeremy, it's the talent that counts - for boys and girls.

At a recent concert in the eastern German city of Dresden, he says the first fans to come up to them after the show were a group of straight male teens. "And they were putting their arms around us and telling us how super we were. Girls were also asking for autographs," says Jeremy. "So the gay thing wasn't an issue."

Jeremy stresses that the band members were also performers in their own right before they became part of Marilyn's Boys. This also defines the group, says manager Gutknecht. "The strength of the group is that they are all passionate musicians. They can present themselves well and love to perform."

It's this common trait that holds the five members - who previously didn't know each other - together, Jeremy explains. "As of the moment we were chosen, we became a family. We're all looking for the same thing and have the same goals."

The first single "I Give You The Stars" is being released on January 6. A second track is already in the making. Now it's up to the consumer to decide if using sexual orientation to promote a band can be successful.

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