If navigating one
long-term partnership with another man seems difficult,
try Andy Bell's life. Relationship number 1 is his
most famous: With Vince Clarke in the supergroup
Erasure, he's sold more than 20 million albums,
and the two are preparing for the release of their new
album, Light at the End of the World. His
second relationship, with longtime partner Paul
Hickey, is less well-known but nearly as long-lived.
third relationship, though, that has proved the toughest for
Bell to manage. As he's hinted in past songs, his
relationship with Hickey was an open one, though it
came with restrictions. Those rules had to be
reexamined recently when Bell met the new man in his life:
his boyfriend, Dave.
I had kind of a half-and-half platonic relationship,"
Bell explains, "and I had the freedom to meet
other people, but the shutters had to come down if I
started becoming emotionally involved with someone.
Then I met this guy."
relationship began playfully--"I met him at a
club, through some mutual friends in London...the
first thing he did was show me his cock on his
phone"--things soon became serious. As he
details in the new song "When a Lover Leaves
You," the most difficult thing about the new
relationship was for Bell to maintain his already existing
bond with Hickey, who suffered a stroke in 2000 and
is, like Bell, HIV-positive.
"I'm pretty much a coward, so I can't
give up one life and start a new one fresh,"
Bell says. "At the same time, as you look at your own
spiritual health, you don't want to be a bastard.
I've been very selfish in my whole relationship
with Paul, and he's taught me a lot about how to
love someone, which is giving and not expecting anything in
return. I just want to show that to someone
professional relationship, with Light following on
the heels of the band's Union Street, an
album of Erasure classics in acoustic and country
stylings, he and Clarke have been keeping up a furious
pace. "It isn't like we're on our last
legs," Clarke explains. "We're
still really enjoying what we do."
attribute Light's up-tempo vibe and positive
outlook to their lives: Clarke and his wife, Tracy,
are raising their 1-year-old son, Oscar, and Bell, who
just visited his doctor, pronounces himself in good
health. Though they live on separate coasts now, Bell and
Clarke have few problems recapturing that Erasure
still times when we sit in a room and go, 'Well, what
now?' " Clarke admits. "But
something always turns up, and that's very