Olly Murs isn’t your average straight dude. The U.K. “X Factor” alum, who recently released his proper stateside debut “Right Place Right Time,” has stripped down to a thong for an all-queer crowd, championed games of gay chicken and been on the receiving end of a man-spank.
We, uh, uncovered all the nitty-gritty in our recent chat with Murs, who also addressed the gay rumors, taking on America and the threesome he’d like to have with a Kate Beckinsale look-alike … and yours truly?
Some straight guys might have a problem being as chummy as you are with the gays, but not you. Why’s that?
Personally, it’s because I’m so comfortable with my sexuality. I know I like women and it’s simply that. I’ve had gay friends and it’s never been a problem. Sure, there’s obviously boundaries you can’t cross, but nine times out of 10, it doesn’t bother me. I find that gay guys are really funny and quite bitchy – but in a good way. It’s always very funny and it never bothers me if, like, they slap my bum. It’s not like I’m freaked out by it. I don’t care. That’s why I’m so chill with it.
Using the Kinsey Scale, where 0 is exclusively hetero and 6 is exclusively homo, how gay is your fan base?
Well, it’s funny, because I’ve done a couple of big events in the U.K. I performed at G-A-Y a few times, and every time I perform I have a really great response from the gay fans. I’m really comfortable with my sexuality, and to be around gay guys is fine. I enjoy their company and they enjoy the music as well, which is good.
So we’re saying maybe a 3 on the scale?
It’s about 3 to 6. I reckon quite a lot of guys like me.
Some interviews you’ve done address how not gay you are. Is that something that comes up a lot?
Yeah, like I said, I’m really comfortable with my sexuality and I’m really extroverted and I like having a good time. Some people have even said, “He’s obviously gay,” because I like to have a good time and I don’t really care. Some people struggle with that.
What do you make of the gay rumors?
I’m straight and I love girls, but I’ve always been able to hang around with gay guys and have a laugh. I think sometimes that offends straight guys for some reason. I don’t know why they decide to write stupid rumors on Twitter and in different magazines saying that I’m gay. I just think that’s ridiculous. The fact is, they’re probably more worried about their own sexuality than I am.
There are so many people in this industry that I’m friends with who are gay, and if I was so dead against talking to gay people, what kind of person am I? I think that’s just ridiculous. We’re all human beings. We’re all the same. Whether you’re gay, straight, bisexual – it doesn’t matter. But for me, I think it’s quite clear that I’m straight and that I like women. So I don’t know. It’s unfortunate. But hey, who cares.
I hear you’re a pro at gay chicken.
(Laughs) You know, I’ve played it twice now. Obviously the game is a straight guy vs. a gay guy, and normally you’d think that a gay guy would last longer. Well, I’ve done it twice now and both gay guys have turned away, which is funny.
So you win?
I won both times!
If you could pick any dude celebrity and play gay chicken with him, who would you pick?
Good question. Who do you think I could play with in America?
Anderson Cooper? Neil Patrick Harris?
Could I do it with Mila Kunis? (Laughs) I’d like to see if Will Ferrell would do it. I’d like to see if he’d actually go for it. I think he would.
Who are two gay artists who’ve influenced you musically?
Definitely Elton John. He’s incredible. I’d probably say George Michael, as well. Regardless of his personal life and the problems he’s been through, his music and his ability to sing and his performances – he’s an amazing artist. Elton John and George Michael are the two who’ve really inspired me in some way, shape or form musically.
Your first album, “In Case You Didn’t Know,” never had a proper release in the U.S., and then the label scrapped that for “Right Place Right Time.” What happened there?
To be honest, I always felt it was a bit weird. I was always unsure about releasing that album over here. I wanted a really good album, but it didn’t feel like it was the right album to release here at the moment. I was writing at the time, so I said to the label, “Look, hold off for a minute; let me just finish this album.” I told the U.S. label, “I have this really good album coming out. I’m really pleased with it. It’s got ‘Troublemaker,’ which I think will be a big song in the U.K. and hopefully in America.”
How is this album different than “In Case You Didn’t Know”?
This album has much more depth to it. It’s much more mature. It’s cooler. I think the American audience is gonna love it a lot more. The title, for me, says it all: “Right Place Right Time.” It feels like the right place and the right time for me.
What’s been the biggest challenge of cracking America?
It’s a massive market. I’ve never had my expectations high in America; I’ve always kept them low, and I always knew it was gonna be a tough challenge. I’ve noticed a massive change in the last year. I came from a TV show here in the U.K. – obviously, “X Factor” – so I came off that show with a huge fan base who knew who I was without any music coming out, but in the states, people don’t really know me, so people haven’t got to know me as a person; they’re just listening to my music. I haven’t really been over there that much to do lots of TV shows or big performances. To be at the point where we are now, with how well the singles have done, and to see that success and to see how much we’ve sold over there, it’s brilliant.
What kind of exposure did “The X Factor” give you?
It gave me an amazing opportunity. Reality TV shows seem to put a negative spin sometimes on artists, and people don’t seem to like that I came from “The X Factor.” For me, it gave me an opportunity to showcase my personality as well as my voice and my performing, and obviously I was able to showcase that to lot of girls and female fans – and, of course, the male fans. People liked it and I enjoyed what I did. It was great for me, and it’s given me the most amazing job and I love it very, very much. I hope I get to do it for many years to come.
You’ve toured with One Direction. Were you a fan of boy bands growing up?
Yeah, massive! I was NSYNC all the way, as well as Backstreet Boys. I was also a massive Spice Girls fan back in the day. I mean, come on, every guy hates to admit it, but we all bought or danced to their songs in a club at some point.
What’s your go-to Spice Girls song?
For me, it’s, (singing) “Stop right now, thank you very much; I need somebody with a human touch.”
Let’s talk about this naked infatuation you have. Pics I’ve seen on the web show you either with your shirt off, pants off, something off. And you stripped at G-A-Y. Are you an exhibitionist?
No, I don’t know why. I just, for some reason, have taken a lot of clothes off in the last three years. And people have taken pictures and caught me with my clothes off. But maybe I am an exhibitionist. I’m not afraid to take my clothes off; that’s basically it. It just happens. If someone dares me to do something, I always do it.
What’s the most ridiculous dare you’ve been asked to do?
Oh god, I was asked to dress up in drag for my documentary (“Olly: Life on Murs”). It just got weird. They wanted me to dress up as a drag queen and sing one of my songs at a proper evening night at a gentleman’s club or something. I was like, “No way am I doing that! I don’t think I can do it. I’m not that good at it.”
What don’t we know about you?
I can’t stand raw tomatoes. I hate olives. I’m a 32 waist. I am conscious of my belly and I wish I could have a six-pack. And I love Kate Beckinsale. She’s my ideal woman.
So maybe a game of chicken with her, too?
If you could arrange it. We’ll do a threesome. We’ll have a gay guy, a really hot Kate Beckinsale look-alike and me.
Let’s do it.