I wish I had a pair of Freddie Mercury’s shorts. To be honest I’m surprised it’s not been one of my life goals from a very early age. Just imagine, I might have thought as a lad, what it must feel like to belong to a pair of shorts that once belonged to the lead singer of the world’s most overrated and most blindly celebrated band of all time. Just imagine. I mean, even back then they were unusually adored (the band, not the shorts) but now that misguided, aim-low adoration has been taken to a measure that outreaches preposterous it means that a simple pair of shorts worn by a man who once went under the pseudonym Larry Lurex (true) is seen as quite the catch. It might seem bizarre to some but on a good day it makes perfect sense to me, all the while making no sense whatsoever. That said, I actually really do wish I had bought a pair of Freddie Mercury’s shorts 40 years ago, but only because then I could sell them to a complete idiot for a huge profit today. Stranger things have happened.
To be honest, if I had bought them they would be in pretty poor shape, even by now. What would be the point of owning a pair of Freddie Mercury’s shorts just to keep them locked in a box or framed and hung above the mantlepiece? I’d want to put them on to see if they’d fit and then dance around singing gibberish and imagining that Roger Taylor was staring at my arse. I’m not quite sure how big Freddie Mercury was but the shorts in question have a 28 inch waist, which means they would be pretty snug on me, though when it comes to leather shorts I suspect that snugness is always preferable, as well as desirable. I didn’t see if it said they were to be worn with underwear but I’m guessing that when Freddie Mercury wore a pair of very small leather shorts he probably didn’t have a lot of need, or indeed space, for a pair of y-fronts. It would be missing the point. So he very likely wore them commando style, which means that whoever bought them instead of me could probably swab for DNA straight from Freddie Mercury’s sweaty cock and hairy balls, or at least from what was left of what was left behind. In fact, I’d be fairly put out if they’d had too many visits to the dry cleaners as that would put paid to my plan to clone Freddie Mercury and have him sing ‘I Want To Break Free’ to me while I took a foamy bath. Again, all these long-term goals I should have been making in my youth now seem so bloody obvious.
Sadly, I just didn’t have the means, luck, opportunity or, crucially, motive to get stuck in at the auction house last week. I wouldn’t actually want a pair of skin-tight leather shorts that Freddie Mercury got very hot in a few times on stage around 1980; including once, oddly, sitting on the shoulders of someone dressed as Darth Vader. Incidentally, that’s how you can establish how rock and roll Queen really were, by that kind of tomfoolery. A billion Queen fans will tell you Queen were quite rock and roll but the truth is they were about as rock and roll as a vicar’s garden party. I think that ‘intermittently fun’ would be more appropriate a description, and that would be a very generous version of a description indeed. But what do I know? Someone, seriously, has just paid £18,000 for what are described as Freddie Mercury’s “shortest, tightest” shorts and now I think the world is about to implode. Not just shortest but also tightest. That’s a lot of sweat and a lot of curly hairs and a hell of a lot of imagination to contend with. I doubt any night he wore those ended with a nice cup of cocoa and an episode of Bonanza. And yet that auction house must have been buzzing; and who knows what sort of big hitters were phoning in their interest?
A few months ago eBay was alight with people bidding for jars of sand from the spot where the NFL player Tom Brady stood when he announced his retirement (or more accurately, one of his retirements) from the game. You truly have to be a morbidly, gratuitously, extravagantly stupid person to want to make that kind of investment (as much as $15,000 in some cases, sweet Jesus) but if you had tried you’d be comforted by the fact you wouldn’t be the only one. That just goes to show how daft the ‘memorabilia’ market has become: one of James Dean’s cigarette butts; a strand of Madonna’s tooth floss; an authentic, bottled Lizzo fart (small); the remnants of Prince Harry’s credibility (circa 2018). Dead or alive, talented or talentless, if you spent even a few seconds in the limelight you’d be surprised what your snotty tissue might be worth to the right cretin. To some, Freddie Mercury was as good as it’s ever going to get and so his fans have been swooning over his flotsam and jetsam: you could have bought his stomach turning waistcoat, his guitar, his bedside telephone or that daft crown he wore on stage and more. Tat and toot fit for a King. But you’d have to be slightly unhinged and very wealthy King to justify paying £18,000 for a very short and very tight pair of dead man’s leather shorts. We’re talking about someone with more money than sense and an upcoming opportunity to show off. Surely the sort of person who’d be happy to spend £100 million of someone else’s money on his own big weekend in the spotlight. And who loves Queen more than the royal family? It’s suddenly all very clear: Camilla looks set for a big surprise and a short, tight and very leathery treat when Charlie drops his ermine robes next Saturday night. Let’s hope it doesn’t put her off her boiled eggs in the morning.
G B Hewitt. 01.05.2023