Last week, the web found a new hero in 29-year-old Robert Wilkinson, a viral video star who busted out with an extremely accurate version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” in the back of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police cruiser after being arrested on drunk driving charges in November. Recognizing star power when we hear it, Hive sought out Wilkinson to ask the hard questions: What exactly went down that fateful night? What are his plans for the future? And, of course, is this dude single? (The answer is ’Yes,’ ladies.)
After getting his hands on the now-famous tape during the discovery portion of his upcoming case, Wilkinson uploaded the footage to YouTube, racking up thousands and thousands of views in mere days (the video that initially went viral has been taken down due to a copyright claim from EMI, but clones of the vid boast tons of views).
Since then, there has been a whirlwind of press coverage and attention for the Edson, Canada, citizen, but despite all the perceived glitz and glamor of Internet stardom, Wilkinson’s life seems rather unaffected. Seriously, no one has even bought this guy a drink yet. Hive Skyped with Wilkinson this past weekend and learned about his sewing habits, moonshine love and what exactly happened on that fateful night.
So how has it been the last couple of days after this video hit the web?
It’s been OK, I guess. Except for the lack of sleep.
No sleep? What have you been doing?
I just lay in bed and ’Bohemian Rhapsody’ plays over and over in my head. Like someone in the world is psychically trying to sing with me — all the time.
I imagine that it plays in your head all the time, anyway, if you’re able to remember it note by note the way you did.
Well, it wasn’t as bad as it is now.
How are you handling the lack of sleep due to Queen overload?
I’m doing OK. I haven’t snapped at anybody, I haven’t become a victim of over-tiredness.
So what exactly was the experience like — getting picked up by the cops, etc.? A lot of people were wondering why you weren’t cuffed or anything.
Well, you notice, there is a time change. The whole video is an hour and 20 minutes, but to save the world from going into a deep, dark pit of lunacy, I had to edit it. I know the police officer doesn’t speak Spanish, so I start saying as much Spanish as I can to him. I think there might have been a couple of other songs. There might have been long, just ’Ommmmmmmm’s for as long as I could. Because they drove from my town over to the next town because the breathalyzer in my town wasn’t working.
So they took you on a trip to find another breathalyzer? So what was the chronology? What happened that night exactly?
If you watch my version of the video, which has the police officer tailing my truck, he blows a stop sign behind me and kind of just like ducks his lights down, and then roars up behind me with his police officer car engine. I had just come from a pub and I thought that he was a drunk driver, so I pulled into the other lane to sacrifice my passenger side to whoever it was that was coming up behind me, and then he turned on his lights. But he said in his statement that I got in the disclosure that I blew the stop sign and I was driving erratically. But it was really him that blew the stop sign and was driving erratically.
So then he drove you to the next town to get the test? And you had an hour and 20-minute car ride?
Yeah, to yell and get very mad and offer him every insult in the book. It was terrible.
Did he tell you to be quiet? In the video I think he only says something once.
The first seven minutes are me yelling, ’I want my lawyer!’ over and over again. And, ’Give me a cellphone, I want my lawyer!’ after he reads the right, ’You have the right to a lawyer forthwith’ or something. Then he’s like, ’Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law,’ and I was like, ’I don’t know what a court of law is! I need to get a lawyer to describe it to me. Go get a lawyer! I don’t even understand what any of these rights are. I don’t even understand what your job is. It doesn’t make sense. I need somebody to represent me.’ I’m not sure if he actually managed to read all the rights or not. I just kept on yelling.
So were you drunk?
Well, as my own lawyer, I advise myself not to disclose that information at this point. Yeah, I’m my own lawyer. No one has approached me to represent me.
So how did you settle upon cutting out that particular part of the video and putting it online?
Some of my friends told me that they would love to share that with their friends, because I was just showing them for fun. I knew it was on the end of the DVD once I got it.
Do you know how it went viral?
I think there’s a scene in Wayne’s World where he goes, ’You know how it goes, you tell two people, then they tell two people and they tell two people and so on and so on.’
So what has been the most interesting response from people who have seen the video? I’m sure you’re getting tons of emails and messages and things like that.
Yeah, it seems like I’ve got so many that if I just started walking down the road, I would be in an endless party. Everybody’s like, ’I want to get drunk with that guy!’
Have people bought you drinks?
Uh, nope. I’ve had one drink, a guy named Brian. The day before on a Wednesday. I don’t think it really was [connected to the video at all].
I see a lot of girls commenting on your video about how they’re into you. So I imagine you’re getting a lot of ladies now?
Yeah, but girls like to talk.
No marriage proposals? Seriously?
Nope. Nothing serious.
Yeah, but I would imagine that girls have been messaging you saying things like, ’I would like to have you serenade me.’
Yeah, right. I didn’t think that was a very sensual rendition [laughs].
I was asked by my female editors to ask if you were single, though.
Absolutely. Been single for a long time.
Ah, that’s about to change, I’m sure. They’ll pluck up their courage after a week or so.
No, I’ll be yesterday’s news.
But you do music at all? Is that something that you’ll keep doing?
Yeah, I go to karaoke a lot. I’ve sang songs in dedication to karaoke before. I sang songs, like, to karaoke. After, like, a few beers that’s what I decided to do. You grab the microphone and go, ’Karaoke, this one’s for you!’
So what you do? Besides karaoke and being Internet famous?
I don’t know. I’ve just been replying to Facebook things and replying to messages on YouTube, trying to keep up with everything so that I don’t seem ignorant at any time in the future. But I haven’t made any profit off of the thing. I also have sewn some homemade underwear that I was planning on selling at the farmer’s market in my town, but I might end up selling them on eBay.
Why homemade underwear?
Well, there are sweat shops in the world, still, and underwear’s kind of just the lowest thing, really. So I’d rather make my own and have nobody else have to suffer to make my underwear.
Are they patterned or plain or…?
Yes, patterned. They’re not plain. Do you have video on your Skype?
Wilkinson turns on his Skype video at this point and shows us an array of handmade underwear. Several are animal print. He takes us to his sewing room, which is littered with fabric and hockey equipment. There, he reveals more fashion creations: a white hoodie fashioned from blankets, a cloak with stars embroidered on the inside, as well as a jacket with knee pads on the shoulders that he calls ’The Jean Hornet.’ He also shows us the table where he brews beer, his distiller, an array of homemade wine and a pan of moonshine.
Wilkinson is currently seeking employment, so hit him up if you’re in need of underwear, liquor or a song.