Interviews - Queen

It's A Hard Life - An interview from the set of the video shoot

It's A Hard Life

The first girl past out at about 11pm. As she was carried over the crowd towards the fresh air, one white foot trailing over an arm, director Tim Pope shouted: "Where's the Virgin?"

"She's what? Oh Christ. I suppose I might as well go home, too!!"

Outside, seventeen year old schoolgirl Tania Fuss was recovering and worrying that her white brocade gown might be dirty.

The strain of a day that had started sixteen hours earlier showed even through the white greasepaint and glitter, set with sticky hairspray that covered her face and body.


The temperature in the studio must have been well over 100 degrees. But when Queen make a video they really go to town.
No expense- and no one - is spared.

The video for their aptly titled 'It's A Hard Life' was shot over two gruelling days in Munich, South Germany, where Freddie Mercury is recording his own solo album.

"It's what you might call a typical Queen production," Says drummer Roger Taylor, loosening the ruff on his black and white Elizabethan costume. "If it's worth doing it's worth OVERDOING."

Guitarist Brian May feels somewhat foolish in his black and gold Tudor get-up, while the flamboyant Freddie flounces around his arms around the other two stars of the show.

These are a German friend called Kurt, who is plastered in make-up and looking rather fetching in a ballerina's black tutu, and the overblown Barbara Valentin-A sort of German Diana Dors.

"I find it pretty depressing," says Brian quietly. "It's not rock 'n' roll it's not glamorous. If you're honest, it's just like being an extra in Ben Hur."

It is hard to imagine two more different characters. Freddie is arrogant and flashy, with a string of nervy-looking aides ready to jump whenever he snaps his fingers.


Brian, in contrast, is content to sit outside on his own, drinking beer.

Quiet and charming, he says the variety of characters within the group are what keep it going after 10 years, even if does sometimes erupt in fireworks.

"A band is like a marriage" he says. "There are wonderful moments, great communication and energy. But at the same time there are points when you want to destroy each other."

Apart from the new single to be released later this month, Queen are planning a major tour in the autumn, beginning with six weeks of dates around Europe.

Like the other members of Queen -Freddie, Roger and John Deacon - Brian need never make another record.

But he chooses to keep working, even though it separates him his wife and two children, Jim, six and Louisa, three.

"My family are the best part of my life," he says. " It doesn't mean anything in my house how famous I am, how rich I am. All the problems always get left on the doorstep."

Camera crew, technicians, make-up artists and extras and extras mill around the vast studio, waiting for their cues.

"It's amazing to watch these things come together," says Michael Baldwin, who designed Freddie's elaborate scarlet costume decorated with plastic "eyeballs" and ostrich feathers.

"I flew over, had three costumes and a wig made up for Freddie in London, hunted out 30 more for the extras and the band flew back again all in the space of three days."

The set was designed and built in two days. Then artists Robin Beers and Richard Watkinson painted for 69 hours, turning the plain chipboard walls into a medieval banquet hall, complete with marble pillars, balcony and golden trelliswork. Queen's last video cost £120,000 and this one is bound to cost more - for about 4 minutes of film.

It seems wildly extravagant. But with a band who make as much money as Queen - each member earns more than £1Million per year - £120,000 might as well be 75p.

The call comes for another shot. Freddie appears howling with laughter in a Mae West blue sequined evening dress with a wide-brimmed hat and a feather boa.

Everyone shifts about uneasily, then they laugh, too.


Chief make-up artist Carolyn Cowan drops her kit on to a chair with a sigh of relief. Evening is coming on and the place is cooling down.
The heat makes the greasepaint run and she's lost count of how many times she's had to touch up the faces.

"It's not that bad," she says with a smile . "We all end up with sore feet and headaches but the end result makes it all worth it. These are the best jobs for all of us to do. Basically It's people paying you to go mad!"


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