‘It was lonely… I wanted out’: Justin Hawkins on the darkness and desolation behind The Masked Singer

For millions of television viewers worldwide, The Masked Singer, a singing competition created in South Korea which pitches masked celebrities against one another until only one champion remains, is frothy, feel-good light entertainment, to be filed alongside cultural behemoths such as Michael McIntyre’s Big Show and Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.

But is there a darker, sinister side to the show, masked by the latex, the laughter and the larynx-shredding larks? Probably not, to be fair, but that hasn’t stopped Justin Hawkins, frontman of The Darkness, who appeared as Chameleon in season one of The Masked Singer UK in 2020, breaking rank to reveal that taking part in the show was… “lonely”.

“The normal rules don’t apply to The Darkness when it comes to stuff that’s a little bit humiliating,” Hawkins tells Classic Rock. “Anything that gets us out there is going to be considered. But doing The Masked Singer was lonely. You’re not allowed an entourage backstage, cos other people’s entourages might recognise yours, and it would spoil the whole thing.”

“So you go on your own, you put a mask on, you sing some songs, and that’s it.”

“I didn’t take it too seriously,” Hawkins insists. “I wanted to be out the first or second week. If I’d stayed in any longer, I would have missed my daughter’s birthday, Plus the night I was unmasked [week three] my name was the most searched term on Google. It hadn’t been like that for a long time, let me tell you.”

Elsewhere in the interview Hawkins reveals an unexpected and wholly unwanted element to catsuit-clad celebrity - “People would finger your bumhole, trying to get stuff up there,” he laments - and vows to continue wearing his trademark catsuits when he hits 50, in 2025.

“I might balloon, I might lose a leg, but I’m still going to fucking wear that catsuit,” he promises.

For more from Hawkins, plus features with Deep Purple, Rush, Van Halen, Jerry Cantrell, pick up the new issue of Classic Rock, which is out now.

Deep Purple

(Image credit: Future)

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Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.