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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 11 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 15
An interview with Boy George
Arts & Entertainment
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An interview with Boy George

by Boy Mike - SGN Contributing Writer

George needs little introduction. With a career spanning over 30 years, he first shot to international stardom in the 1980s as the front man of one of the UK's biggest exports of the 20th Century, Culture Club. A multi-racial band, with an openly Gay front-man, Culture Club was ahead of the curve and went on to become the first group since The Beatles to have three Top Ten hits in the United States from a debut album alone.

With seven Top Ten U.S. singles under his belt, and continued success as a solo artist - over 150 million records sold with Top Ten hits in every country - Boy George, aka George O'Dowd, is without doubt a living legend. He's also one of the first true and unapologetic innovators in the music world and of our time.

He has been interviewed by prime time and late night legends such as Johnny Carson, Barbara Walters, David Letterman, Joan Rivers, and Howard Stern.

He has also received international acclaim and awards for his contributions and work in music. Alongside his band mates in Culture Club, George received 'Best New Artist' at the 1984 Grammy Awards, and cheekily accepted the nod via satellite with the message, 'Thanks America. You've got style, you've got taste, and you know a good drag queen when you see one.'

George is also a hugely respected house DJ, playing for twenty years and continuing to DJ successfully in clubs all over the world. However, it is his new album This Is What I Do that reinforces his first true love, writing and singing.

Now, a dedicated Nichiren Buddhist, George has been focusing his energy on this new album, his first studio full-length in 18 years.

Boy Mike: This Is What I Do seems to be cut from the same cloth as your album Cheapness & Beauty (1995). What was the writing process like for you?

Boy George: With Cheapness & Beauty, I had a real kind of, ya know, something to say, as usual back then - a broken relationship, an axe to grind. With this record, I didn't have any of that. I really had to stop and think, what am I going to write about? So, it was an interesting experience, writing from a happy place. So a lot of songs were written as a group with the music and then I wrote the lyrics. I am always looking for new ways to say things, ya know what I mean?

Boy Mike: So, how has the album been doing so far?

Boy George: Great! We had amazing reviews in the UK and all over the world and even charted in some countries. But, ya know what? At this point in the game, it's not really about that. I'm not Justin Beiber (big laugh). At this point in the game, my agenda is something different. I am 52 years old. I had a long break from making music. I've been DJing, which is incredible. I've come back to making records. The reaction to the record has been beautiful.

Boy Mike: What is the back-story on the second UK single, 'My God'?

Boy George: A few years ago while I was in New York at this bar, this guy randomly walked up to me and handed me this Jesus pamphlet. I asked him 'Why did you give me that & do you know something I don't?' I talked with him and had a little debate about it. It just stuck in my mind for years. I asked, 'Why did you target me? Of all the people to come up to?' But, ya know, when you're Gay, ya get a lot of people coming up to you with Jesus pamphlets. It was kinda crazy. So the song is a story of that night in New York.

Boy Mike: What is your favorite track on the album?

Boy George: My favorite track. Oh, that's a hard one. It's probably 'My God.' It's quite up and it's very Bowie-esque, unashamedly. I love the guitars on it and I like the fact that I mentioned Lady Bunny. For me, it kind of evokes a memory of New York.

Boy Mike: So, you co-wrote some of the best tracks on your new album with Mikey Craig (from Culture Club). How did that partnership come about?

Boy George: Well, over the last couple of years, I have been writing on and off with Culture Club. So we've been kind of talking about doing a project together, and when I started writing my own record, I just picked Mikey to do some writing with. It was great to have him involved. One of the next things I'm gonna do is something with Culture Club.

Boy Mike: What was the inspiration for the album?

Boy George: I went back to all the things I loved as a teenager like glam-rock, reggae, punk, Bowie. It goes back to a time when I was really falling in love with music.

Boy Mike: Now that Gay marriage is legal in England, would you consider getting married?

Boy George: Well, I guess I would have to find someone to marry first (big laugh).

Boy Mike: Can you believe it's been 30 years since Culture Club won the Best New Artist category at the Grammys?

Boy George: I know, it's mad. It's absolutely. It doesn't feel like it has been that long.

Boy Mike: Are you going to be doing any Culture Club songs on the tour?

Boy George: Yeah, I always do them. I will not be doing every one of them, but I will be doing some. I always make sure the show has a variety because you want people to have a good time. I throw in surprises, doing songs I haven't done in years. I try to do something that will make it really special.

Boy Mike: The last three questions were submitted by a 70-year old fan, and I promised her I would ask them. She says 'You're so pretty, but why do you have to hide your face behind all that scruffy beard stuff?'

Boy George: (Huge laugh) She sounds like my mum. What I think is 'make-up makes you look prettier.' I love make-up (laughs).

Boy Mike: And her other question is what one item would make you go back to the buffet table time and time again?

Boy George: Oh, my god! Um. I love all food. I can't think of anything that I wouldn't. Um. If I would have to say, it would have to be cabbage (laughs). I loved cabbage when I went to school, like all the other kids would go back for fries and I would always go back for more cabbage (more laughs).

Boy Mike: What would you like your tombstone to say once you've turned to dust?

Boy George: 'And another thing' (laughing hysterically).

Boy George performs live in Los Angeles on April 29 at the Belasco Theatre and April 30 at the Mayan Theatre. For more information, go to www.boygeorge.com.

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