June 14, 1961– George Alan O’Dowd. 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?
When he was at the very apex of his pop music fame, before the bruising blows of rejection by fickle fans, the drug addiction, jail time & tabloid infamy, Boy George was the very embodiment of fantasy escapism. All the way back in the zany 1980s, he was our Karma Chameleon, blurring the boundaries of sexuality & gender. Ahead of his time, Boy George was our example of how to transcend our physical limitations & become something other than who & what we are. Using bewitchment, beauty, & bemusement, Boy George proved that you could be anything & anyone & achieve acclaim.
Boy George: British gay soul singer, songwriter, DJ, Broadway composer, stage actor, Grammy winner, Tony nominee, fashion designer, sexually ambiguous gender-bending superstar, trendsetter, model, writer, gay rights spokesperson, anti-racism stalwart & animal rights activist. In the 1980s, everyone on our pretty spinning blue orb was fascinated by Boy George, with his dreadlocks, dresses, exotic make-up & Hasidic hats. For a moment, he was the most famous person on the planet. On talk shows & in interviews, he was pretty, witty & gay, charming fans of all ages.
“There’s this illusion that homosexuals have sex & heterosexuals fall in love. That’s completely untrue. Everybody wants to be loved.”
Yet, during those years of Culture Club, Boy George was helplessly drawn to the drama that came to define that genuinely great 1980s group whose tensions within the band were played out with such flamboyance that they soon resembled a public soap opera, with today’s birthday boy the ringmaster. At the center of it all was Boy George’s turbulent relationship with bandmate Jon Moss, a relationship that Moss, now divorced with 3 children, spent years denying had even taken place. Moss now says that he is a straight guy who had a single gay affair.
Boy George enjoyed hit records & international recognition as a celebrity until revelations about his secret hard drug problem hit the tabloids. At the end of the 1980s he began to rehabilitate & reinvent himself. No longer an outsider, freak, or victim, he became to an almost respectable figure. He turned to Buddhism, pacifism & vegetarianism.
But, by the mid-1990s he was back to the drugs, the booze & plenty of trouble. He was involved in a series of scandals, drug arrests & peculiar behavior, but who else could wear an ankle monitor with such finesse?
But, Boy George claims that he has been sober & happy since 2008. He continues to record music (a new single dropped this spring), DJ & 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 & 60 million albums worldwide. He promises another album & tour with Culture Club. Like me, he seems to own a lot of hats. Boy George has 2 terrific, highly readable volumes of memoirs, Take It Like A Man (1995) & Straight (2005). I have been a Boy George fan from the very start . I now that he is a friend of the World Of Wonder family. This year marks the 34th anniversary of Culture Club.
“When things are awful, you think, ‘Oh my god, everybody’s hideous.’ Then you encounter someone who’s really amazing & sweet, & 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!” & sometimes it’s nice to have your ideas challenged. I like that.”