‘God bless Freddie. It’s a unique advertisement, that’s for sure’

"This is the real life, living the fantasy, here in the beautiful Waikouaiti; open your eyes, the stars in the sky are free."

Those lines may sound vaguely familiar, because they are a take-off of Queen smash hit Bohemian Rhapsody, which is being used in rather clever advertising for some East Otago real estate.

Steve Larkins travelled the world performing his comedic Freddie Mercury act on cruise ships but is now at home in Waikouaiti with his wife Sharon, due to Covid-19’s effect on the cruise industry.

It was Edinburgh Realty agent James Columb who came up with the idea of Mr Larkins (63) reprising his role of Mercury to create an advertising video when they were selling two sections.

"I had the goods, he had the idea really. God bless Freddie. It’s a unique advertisement, that’s for sure," Mr Larkins, who was filmed singing and playing the piano on the property, said.

Musician Steve Larkins is using his alter ego, rock star Freddie Mercury, to advertise some of...
Musician Steve Larkins is using his alter ego, rock star Freddie Mercury, to advertise some of his Waikouaiti land. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Mr Larkins has been in the music industry for many years; he played keyboards in When The Cat’s Away and toured with the likes of Dave Dobbyn and Midge Marsden.

In 2000, he was part of a group which entertained in East Timor and, as a joke, he donned some fake teeth and did a Freddie Mercury impersonation, singing We Will Rock You. The response was very favourable, people saying he needed to do something with it.

It evolved from getting out from behind the keyboard and "doing this Freddie act". It was not a tribute show but rather a cross between Freddie Mercury and Dame Edna, in what was a fun and interactive performance, he said.

He and his wife spent almost 12 years on cruise ships, travelling everywhere from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean, Mr Larkins entertaining passengers with his Freddie act.

Although they were living out of a suitcase, it was not hard work, he said.

"It’s a comfortable shoe for me [to] get out in front of 1200 people and do my thing. It still entertains me when I’m doing it. I’m not me - I’m this other character. It’s rewarding when somebody gives you a pat on the back and that’s what applause is."

The couple had always planned to subdivide part of their property but Covid-19 moved those plans forward as there was no work on cruise ships.

While he missed doing the show, he found the township was "certainly the place" to be during the pandemic, rather than in a more suburban area or being in a flat.

They were enjoying the change of pace and lifestyle. He was playing golf and doing some gardening along with playing in a band in Dunedin. He was also volunteering at Puketapu Radio.

Although his agent in Miami had advised him cruise ships were sailing again, they were only about half filled and tended to use local acts so it was difficult to know when normal cruising would resume.

In the meantime, the crown he used in his act was polished and the fake teeth were "clean and waiting expectantly".



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