As the world’s only Vine star-turned-mainstream musician success story, it was only a matter of time before 20-year-old Shawn Mendes scored the cover of Rolling Stone. Aptly described as “a neurotic teen idol,” by journalist Patrick Doyle (within two paragraphs Mendes reveals “It’s literally my biggest fear, to wake up tomorrow and nobody cares,”) the profile is a wild ride for anyone (me) unaware that his come up story is more involved than “cute boy covers Justin Bieber on social media platform.”
He talks about anxiety, touring with Taylor Swift and never saying no to a selfie before getting into the good stuff: rumors about his sexuality, his relationship with Hailey Baldwin and weed.
While strolling on a beach in Portugal, Mendes turns to Doyle to tell him there are some attractive women walking about:
“There’s definitely some cuties here. Dude, I have no game. There’s less [the Mendes family] has to do because of the good hair. We’re already 10 steps ahead. But being good-looking doesn’t make you have game.”
Sure. Mendes then gets into the Hailey Baldwin did-they-or-didn’t-they gossip (“I don’t even wanna put a title on it. I think it was more of a zone of limbo,”) explaining that he’s actually happy she found love with Biebs. Really:
“I get it, you know. I texted Hailey, ‘Congratulations,’ and I really am happy for them. She’s still one of the fucking coolest people ever—she’s not just a beautiful person visually, but she’s one of the most beautiful hearts I’ve ever met.I think I’m an idiot to not, you know…But you can’t control your heart.”
Then he turns to the rumors that he’s gay:
“I’d like to say I don’t care about it, but that’s not true. This massive, massive thing for the last five years about me being gay. In the back of my heart, I feel like I need to go be seen with someone — like a girl — in public, to prove to people that I’m not gay. Even though in my heart I know that it’s not a bad thing. There’s still a piece of me that thinks that. And I hate that side of me.”
And quickly follows it up with the revelation that he grew up “braiding hair and painting nails. Maybe I am a little more feminine — but that’s the way it is. That’s why I am me.”
A quick perusal of Mendes fan accounts on Twitter revealed that Shawn stans seem to be most upset about the following innocent paragraph about drugs and not the whole “being gay is embarrassing” thing:
“I love weed,” he tells me with a grin. “I wouldn’t tweet that — not yet, at least — but it’s really good for me. When I’m home, I’ll smoke and then play guitar for seven hours.” (He also saw shrooms for sale in Amsterdam, but opted not to try them. “I want to so badly,” he says. “I think it would help me a lot.”)
It reminds me of another Rolling Stone cover story Doyle wrote back in 2015 with Australian punk-pop group 5 Seconds of Summer. The boy band—co-owned by One Direction and desperate to pivot to rock band in a time when guitars couldn’t be more uncool—used their profile time to talk about groupies and heavy partying, essentially forcing themselves to disappear for a few months and rebrand before fans fully forgave them. Mendes’ small endorsement of weed is no where near as sinful, but an interesting play for a dude afraid to say “fuck” on stage.
Read the full story here.