GAY CITY ROLLERS
FROM THE DAILY MIRROR-
BAY CITY ROLLERS SINGER GAY.
As the singer with squeaky-clean 70s boyband the Bay City Rollers, heartthrob Les McKeown helped fan the flames of Rollermania.
Back then the Scottish pop rockers could barely move without being mobbed by a tartan-clad army of teenage girls – screaming for their favourite Roller, begging for autographs and singing along to Shang-A-Lang.
Those shrieking fans would soon be silenced by today’s shocking revelation that one of their heroes has been living a secret gay life for the past 30 years.
Certainly Les stunned wife Peko. She had no idea he has been meeting strange men for sex throughout their marriage until he admitted it in front of cameras for a TV documentary!
Last year, 53-year-old Les was offered a free place at Passages, a radical rehab clinic in Malibu, California.
His liver was on its last legs after years of him downing two bottles of Wild Turkey bourbon a day. His GP had told him in no uncertain terms he had to quit boozing, or he wouldn’t live to see 2009.
Les’s marriage was also on the rocks because his alcoholism had turned him into “a complete b*****d”.
Rehab was a chance he had to take, especially since a TV company would be picking up the £55,000 bill.
The ethos at Passages is that addiction is a symptom of underlying emotional problems. Initially dubious, Les ended up telling a therapist a secret he had never shared with anyone – not even Peko. He claims that aged 19, at the height of the Rollers’ fame, he was raped by another man.
Les says: “Date rape is the best way I can think of to explain how I was cajoled into a situation through drugs into having sex with another man.
“It happened in America in a hotel room. I was given Quaaludes, a drug for lowering your inhibitions and making you horny. If a girl took it she’d be all over you.
“Afterwards I felt really used and abused. I never told anybody about it, not even the other guys in the band, because I was ashamed.
“Maybe part of the shame was that I’d actually enjoyed it. Before that, I’d always thought I was straight, but what was happening to me was very erotic and I felt pleasure from it.
“Now I think a lot of the shame I’ve felt ever since has to do with the person who did that to me. I hated him.
“I tried to drink it away and push that memory into obscurity. The knock-on effect was that I found myself attracted to men, and now and again I’ve taken action on that.” Pressed to define “now and again”, Les reckons “a couple of times a month” but he later backtracks and admits to a dozen gay partners in all.
He says: “I’ve been a bit of a George Michael, meeting people, often strangers, for sex. Not in public toilets – I’m not big on the unhygienic side of things.
“These days you’d meet online and figure out a place where to meet – your place or mine. I certainly wouldn’t introduce myself as Les from the Bay City Rollers.
“I’d say my name was Les but they weren’t really interested in surnames. We weren’t going on dates, we were just getting together for sex.
“I had a couple of regulars I’d see quite a lot of, but I didn’t have what you would call a relationship with them. It was just meeting the same person for sex.
“I don’t think I ever put myself in dangerous situations and I think I’m a good judge of character. I have had an Aids test.
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“I’d always use protection but sometimes, because of the drinking, I couldn’t remember what I was doing last night and there was that nagging fear: what if? Afterwards there was no guilt or shame, and Peko would be none the wiser.”
Until, that is, his Japanese wife, who he met in 1979, and the couple’s 24-year-old son, Jubei, were flown out to Passages to hear this bombshell for themselves – on camera. Was she angry?
“She was, yeah,” admits Les, who was also unfaithful with other women. “She said, ‘You little s***!’ I’ve kept this secret from her for all these years because I was afraid of losing everything I’d got. But I think she was relieved when I did tell her.
“She told me she did have suspicions about my sexuality. Actually, I think my bisexuality is a minor thing compared to what else she’s had to put up with.
“She did cry when she found out, but she’s been crying for the past 15 years. But she would hardly ever cry in front of me because Mr Nasty B*****d would say, ‘What the f*** are you crying for?’
“Most of the time I just wasn’t around. I’d be in the pub at nine in the morning, come home for a sleep around one o’clock, and then go back around 3pm to see my mates. Mr Drunk would come out and I’d drink to show off. Sometimes I’d pass out in the pub and they’d have to call an ambulance because they couldn’t wake me up.”
On the rare occasions that Les was at home it was, if anything, even worse.
“I never raised my fists to my wife or my son, but abuse doesn’t have to be physical. I can’t believe how absolutely abhorrent I’ve been towards people that I love.
“I would go out of my way to put my wife or my son down any way I could. I would tell her, ‘Just f*** off, you stupid Jap.’
“It was all just me, me, me. You try to destroy other people. You want them to be as f****d up as you are so you try to bring them down. Peko did leave me, but she always came back, she wanted to help me.”
Peko is still standing by him – for now.
“I’ve apologised to Peko,” says Les, who is also repairing his relationship with his son. “We’re going to see how things go.”
Is he worried what the wider public reaction might be to his confession?
He says: “When I agreed to do the TV series I didn’t think I’d end up talking about things like this, but I feel relieved now it’s out in the open. I think it will give me the opportunity to blossom a little bit.
“If you’ve got a secret and you’re a rotten lying b*****d you always have to be careful of your lies. Now that I don’t have a secret I can’t get found out, can I?
“I don’t think you can just spend a month in rehab and be fixed, but I’m about 90 per cent fixed. I’ve had 20 years of being an alcoholic and a secret bisexual, so the other 10 per cent will take a bit longer.
“Since I’ve come out of Passages I had three glasses of red wine one day and I thought, ‘I can handle this’. Then I felt the old darkness coming in and I stopped.
“I do still want a drink sometimes, especially when I’m stressed. But since I’ve been home I’ve not had the inclination to phone anybody and say, ‘Do you fancy a sexual encounter in the woods?’
“Maybe now it’s not a secret it’s not so naughty any more.”