June 14, 1961– George Alan O’Dowd:
“I can do anything. In GQ, I appeared as a man.”
Who among us has not restrained a rent boy to a radiator? I mean you can’t trust them to be left alone in the room. What is a pop star supposed to do?
He claims he knew he was gay when he was eight years old and he doesn’t seem to have ever struggled with it.
“Even when I was ten, I just thought: ‘It’s what I’m meant to be and that’s the end of it.’ I never, ever wanted to be straight.”
When he was at the very height of his pop music fame, before the bruising blows of rejection by fickle fans, before the drug addiction, jail time and tabloid infamy, Boy George was the very embodiment of fantasy escapism. All the way back in the zany 1980s, he was a Karma Chameleon, blurring the boundaries of sexuality and gender. Ahead of his time, Boy George was an example of how to transcend our physical limitations and become something other than who and what we are. Using bewitchment, beauty, and bemusement, he proved that you could be anything and anyone and achieve acclaim.
Boy George is a British gay soul singer, songwriter, DJ, Broadway composer, stage actor, Grammy Award winner, Tony Award nominee, fashion designer, sexually ambiguous gender-bending superstar, trendsetter, model, writer, gay rights spokesperson, anti-racism stalwart, jailbird, and an animal rights activist.
In the 1980s, everyone on our pretty spinning blue orb was fascinated by Boy George, with his gorgeous, rich singing voice, plus dreadlocks, dresses, exotic make-up and Hasidic headgear. For a magical moment, he was the most famous person on the planet. On talk shows and in interviews, he was pretty, witty and gay, charming his fans of all ages.
Yet, during those years as a member of the New-Wave band Culture Club, Boy George was helplessly drawn to the drama that came to define that genuinely great 1980s group. The tensions within the band were played out with such flamboyance that they soon resembled a public soap opera, with today’s birthday boy as the ringmaster. At the center of it all was Boy George’s turbulent relationship with bandmate Jon Moss, a relationship that Moss, now a divorced father with three children, spent years denying had even taken place. Moss now says that he is a straight guy who had just that single gay affair.
“There’s this illusion that homosexuals have sex and heterosexuals fall in love. That’s completely untrue. Everybody wants to be loved.”
Boy George enjoyed having hit records and international recognition as a great big celebrity until revelations about his secret hard drug problem hit the tabloids. He was an emaciated junkie in 1986 when Culture Club fell apart. But, at the end of the 1980s he began to rehabilitate and reinvent himself. By the mid-1990s Boy George was back to the drugs, the booze and plenty of trouble. He was involved in a series of scandals, drug arrests and peculiar behavior, but who else could wear an ankle monitor with such finesse?
He was also a sad looking Boy in 2005, when he was convicted of falsely reporting a crime in NYC. He was sentenced to some especially well-documented street cleaning as his sentence. Do you remember that Boy George? In London three years later, he was jailed for 15 months after that incident with the hustler, Auden Carlsen, who he allegedly chained to a radiator.
“My appetite for self-destruction and misery is greatly diminished. I’m not interested in being unhappy.”
No longer an outsider, freak, or victim, he became an almost respectable figure. He turned to Buddhism, pacifism and vegetarianism. He gave up booze, cigarettes, sugar, even gluten. Boy George claims that he has been clean, sober and happy since 2008, no longer an outsider, freak, or victim. He continues to record music (a new single dropped this spring), DJ at major parties and catwalks, and still make fodder for the tabloids.
“Not knowing when to shut up was one of my greatest faults.”
Boy George has sold over 100 million singles and 60 million albums worldwide.
Boy George has two terrific, highly readable volumes of memoirs, Take It Like A Man (1995) and Straight (2005).
I have been a Boy George fan from the very start. I remember how he really owned that new cable channel, MTV, back in the 1980s. I know that he is a friend of our World Of Wonder family, which makes me feel super groovy and just one degree of separation from the Boy. Like me, he owns a lot of hats.
Astonishingly, this year marks the 36th anniversary of Culture Club. Reunited, they are currently touring all over the world, even possibly to your own town. It’s A Miracle because I have Missed Them Blind.
“When things are awful, you think, ‘Oh my god, everybody’s hideous.’ Then you encounter someone who’s really amazing and sweet, and you think, ‘Oh my god, people are great.’ We all do that thing of judging other people for the way they look or the car they drive, we all do it. No matter how ‘spiritual’ we are, we still think ‘Wanker!’ and sometimes it’s nice to have your ideas challenged. I like that.”
This past winter, in a spectacularly odd moment in television history, Boy George was a contestant, along with Carson Kressley, on a television series called The New Celebrity Apprentice starring Arnold Schwarzenegger who had replaced the original host: a most peculiar, pee-splattered, Sno-Cone shaped, bankruptcy filing, pussy-grabbing, women cherishing, poorly-trained orangutan who was too busy destroying democracy to host. The Boy came in second place, raising more than a half-million dollars for his charity, Safe Kids Worldwide. At the end of the season, Schwarzenegger announced he would no longer host the show because he did not like the “baggage” attached to the show caused by the former host who now had a new show, a Dynasty style soap opera featuring his charming family, titled White Nationalists Blow The Shit Up, streaming 24-hours-a-day.
Yes, Boy George goes on. He currently is a judge and mentor on the British version of The Voice, receiving good reviews and having a good time. Last summer, Culture Club did a 40-city sold-out world tour. They have a new album that will be released later this year.
“The best thing you can do is work on your personality because we’re all gonna get ugly.”