ROB HALFORD: 'I've Always Had Fun With Costume Changes With JUDAS PRIEST'

PlanetOut, the leading gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender online community, recently conducted an interview with JUDAS PRIEST frontman Rob Halford. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

PlanetOut: Rob, you're such a style icon. How did you first develop what would become the metal "uniform?"

Rob Halford: A lot of it was out of experimentation. As I recall, the whole imagery came out of a song called "Hell Bent for Leather". We had an idea of bringing a motorcycle on stage and it made sense that if I ride a bike, I should wear a biker's jacket. It felt right. Elvis was doing it, and he was Mr. Rock 'n' Roll. It was a tough thing, a macho thing. And we had things around at the time that I felt should be utilized, like our fashion designers at the time, who took a jacket and vest and put studs on them all over the place. The sound was there, loud, brash and aggressive, but the look was not yet in place. That's what's so wonderful about the journey we've been on. Once we established a look, you just looked at yourself in the mirror before going on stage to make sure your fly was zipped. We finally looked like the music sounds, and everyone picked up on it and it became the look.

PlanetOut: Why did you decide to launch an apparel collection [Metal God Apparel]?

Rob Halford: In my golden years I'm looking to fulfill a lot of dreams and ambitions that I still have. One was to be in the world of apparel. I have to confess that I'm not like "The Real Housewives of Orange County" — I'm not in Neiman Marcus every two seconds. But I love fashion. I think it's fun and important, culturally, and I have my eye on that side of the world. Being connected to rock 'n' roll life, I can see how you can go from the roots of cowboy boots and that Ralph Lauren thing to some of the extremely flamboyant displays like the Elvis outfit last night on "American Idol". It's what we're all about. Also, we need to wear clothes, so there's a natural interest to explore that. I've always had fun with costume changes with JUDAS PRIEST and my solo work and I wanted to see what would happen with this new venture. It's just another project with my company; I got my record company up and running, a clothing line about to launch, with even more things on the back burner as we speak. Life is great… I love life… I just wanted to see how much I can get out of it really. And it's a good feeling to have that contact, musically, with people.

PlanetOut: What has been the reaction so far to the clothing collection?

Rob Halford: I've shown designs and samples to my guy friends, and they're always saying, "I'll take six of them, I'll take four of those." It definitely fits the niche for that type of look. So far the reaction has been encouraging, so I'm fingers crossed that when we hit the official launch, it will be successful.

PlanetOut: Do you think that gay audiences will be drawn to these designs?

Rob Halford: I think so. I think the gay community is just as open minded as the rest of society is... but I know what you're saying... A t-shirt is a t-shirt, and in terms of visuals, the gay crowd, as can we, can also relate to it. I think that as long as it's cool and edgy, it's got a place.

PlanetOut: Along those same lines, I love metal, but I rarely meet mo's that are METALLICA heads. So I'm curious, do you think that heavy metal is still a straight man's arena?

Rob Halford: First, I think it's great that you're a metalhead. I also think that we go as far as stereotyping ourselves, like if you're gay, you've got to be into leather or the white party circuit. I don't understand that because we already have a lot of difficulties. At the end of the day, it's freedom of choice, but we shouldn't be pecking away at each other. There's no doubt that there are LGBT metalheads all over world, because I see them throwing up the devil sign at my shows. Yes, we're a minority within a minority, but metal is for everyone. It's a great kind of rock 'n' roll music.

Read the entire interview from PlanetOut.

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