VASTERAS - We could blame it on the summer heat. But since this year there has been neither a summer nor much heat, there has to be some other explanation for the Gunther phenomenon.
Just how does a guy with an early 80s German porn-star look and a song about his, ahem, tra-la-laa, become one of this summer's biggest sensations?
Whatever the secret ingredient (we're guessing it's a mix of the mullet hairdo, the moustache, the oversized sunglasses and the pout), Gunther has certainly found it.
His debut single, the "Ding Dong Song," has gone gold in Sweden since its January release, as has the follow-up track, the delightfully titled "Teeny Weeny String Bikini."
To investigate the massive (no pun) Gunther phenomenon, The Baltic Times caught up with the man behind the moustache and Yves Saint Laurent shades.
He is, in fact, Mats Soderlund, a Swede with just a smattering of German. Once a model, and then later the owner of two clubs in his native Malmo in southern Sweden, Soderlund has now turned to music full time. He explained that "Gunther" is made up of all of his experiences in show business.
"Gunther is very extravagant," he said. "I think people want to express themselves like him."
And express himself he does. The music video for the "Ding Dong Song," for example, begins with Gunther waking up beside three beauties in an orgy-type of setting, and exposing his naked behind (not a body double, Soderlund proudly assured TBT). Besides 10 original songs, his album, entitled "Pleasureman," also sports a cover of Samantha Fox's '86 hit "Touch Me." The songs are catchy dance tracks with silly lyrics, punctuated by exclamations like "oh-la-la" and "cha-cha-cha."
The "Ding Dong Song," which mostly consists of Gunther throatily groaning "Oh, you touch my tra-la-laa," and its music video are both uber cringe-worthy. With his geeky-sexy image, the Pleasureman leaves no one indifferent. Together with his scantily clad sidekicks, The Sunshine Girls, Gunther continues to tour Europe, from Germany to Spain to Sweden and back.
Soderlund insists that Gunther's message is about love, even though judging from the song lyrics and his image, Gunther seems more like an Austin Powers whose mojo is stuck in perpetual turbo drive.
But just when it seems that Soderlund is taking Gunther a bit too seriously, he snaps out of character and doesn't hesitate to talk about creating the image, like darkening his moustache (which is real, as is the hairdo) with make-up before shows.Although on his Web site Gunther says he is 29, in reality, Soderlund is 36. He has a steady girlfriend and two daughters, aged 11 and nine. Asked what his daughters think about his alter ego, Soderlund replied, "Oh, they think it's very funny. But when I'm a father, I'm very much a father. When I'm out, I'm very much Gunther."
"I say I'm 29 because today everyone must be 20 or 22. After 20, you are too old for everything. I think it's crazy. I think it's time there came a grownup man and mixed the whole [thing] up," Soderlund said.
For Gunther's tour schedule, visit www.gunthernet.com