If you’ve ever dreamed of packing up and running away to Europe, do it – you might just end up with a top 10 single, thousands of adoring fans and a shot at competing in the Eurovision Song Competition.

When he entered his 30s, Eddi (no last name – how very pop!) decided he was due for a change, so he left Australia for the Netherlands and wound up as Bearforce1’s “spare bear”.

The Dutch group calls itself the world’s first real “bearband” – an antidote to super-polished, polite and sexless boybands like N’Sync and the Backstreet Boys. They’re all hairy, muscled and ready to “bear” all, with lyrics like “give a bit of mmm to me/ and I’ll give a bit of mmm to you”.

Bearforce1 partly have gossip blogger Perez Hilton to thank for their success, after he featured their Bearforce1 video on his website in August last year, calling it “the most amazing thing ever” and “fagulous”.

“Remember this whole thing started with four friends who decided to record a song and upload a video onto YouTube,” Eddi said.

“Then Perez Hilton caught hold of it and it just exploded, so they were really taken by surprise. It really just has been quite overwhelming.”

When one of the band members couldn’t make the planned tour of the US, Eddi was called in as a temporary replacement. “Initially it was just going to be to cover Ian on the USA trip, but we had such a great time there that they said, ‘Hey, do you want to be in the Christmas video?’” he told SSO.

While Bearforce1 may have used the internet to hit the big-time, their songs are unashamedly retro, with a string of 80s disco pop hits sampled in their debut hit Bearforce1.

“There were so many amazing artists from the 80s, and I guess people in our age group now look back and think, ‘Man, those guys were wicked,’” Eddi said.

In true Europop fashion their Christmas single is cheesy and fun, putting a thumping dance beat behind standards like Walkin’ In A Winter Wonderland and wishing people a “hairy Christmas”. Christmas is Here reached the Dutch chart top 10, perhaps proof that the record-buying public is in the midst of a bear love affair.

Bearforce1’s fans range from other bears and gay men to average housewives and their kids, Eddi said.

“I think sometimes the gay community is portrayed as being overtly sexual or really full on, and this puts the other spin on it which is, hey, we’re just here to have fun – out for a good time, just dancing round and being ourselves,” he said.

“This is not about acceptance, it’s more about exposure and just awareness. The more we can put that out there, the better.”

Despite their sudden popularity, these bears have got their claws in – there’s no chance of any Spice Girls-style rivalry. “The only time you’ll see a diva tantrum is if we get back to the dressing room and there’s not food and vodka – not pretty,” Eddi said.

The Bearforce1 EP featuring Bearforce1 and Christmas is Here will be launched at the Friday Bears night on 29 February at the Flinders Hotel, with DJ Sandi Hotrod behind the decks. Copies of the EP are for sale through www.hcbears.com.au.

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