By Steven M. Housman

This Boy's Life

America and the World became aware of Boy George in 1982 when he hit the small screen with his first video “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” Not only were music fans and critics mesmerized by this man’s soulful voice, more people started taking notice of the androgynous appearance this man possessed. Then again, he raised the question among the “straight” world: What was it, with its long braids and cherry red puckered lips? We like the voice but ITS, HE’S, SHE’S so different, and different to the masses means strange, bizarre, faggot, queen. Even by 1982, the world had pretty much adjusted to the long-haired hippies and wild antics displayed by most rockers dating back to the 60’s and 70’s, but this time it was different with a capital “D.”

All of a sudden, Boy George started showing up on The Tonight Show and his group Culture Club started turning out hit after hit. At the time, it was a revelation. “I don’t know if it would work today”, he admits, “it’s all a question of timing, I suppose.” People were starting to realize this was not just a drag-queen-one hit-wonder-flash-in-the-pan. This was a man of substance.

1983 proved to be a pivotal year for George. Culture Club won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist of the Year and they were well on their way to mega-stardom. They also released their biggest selling album, Colour By Numbers, which included the smash-hit singles, “Karma Chameleon,” Miss Me Blind” and “Church of the Poisoned Mind.” During this time, the drummer of the band, Jon Moss, also happened to be George’s ex, which eventually added to the already stressful ties that accompanies the business of rock and roll. By 1986, the pace on George and the band were becoming apparent. Their albums and singles were becoming less successful and by 1987, George fell into the classic trappings of burnt-out rock stardom, nearly dying from his heroin addiction.

By the late 80’s, Culture Club had broken up and George seemed to be another classic casualty. “Not so”, said George. By the 90’s George had cleaned up his act, brought the members of Culture Club back together for a successful world tour and greatest hits package. In 1992, after the success of George’s solo effort, the title song to the motion picture The Crying Game, George turned his attention to one of his first love’s, DJ’ing. George was just 17 years-old when he started playing to a crowd of trendy Londoners at Planet’s nightclub. At first, people said, as expected, that booking Boy George was just a novelty factor. But the novelty that so many predicted would be short-lived didn’t wear off. Boy George was back on track and becoming more popular and in-demand than ever before. His DJ’ing gigs have taken him all over the world and has become one of the top acts to book. This also didn’t deter George from recording solo. As a matter of fact, his recording of “When Will You Leave” was so good, he received a 1999 Grammy nomination for Best Dance Recording.

Currently, George runs his successful record label More Protein and has been co-writing songs and has remixed a few gems by the likes of Missy Elliot, Liberty and EMF. He has written a best-selling book, his autobiography aptly titled Take It Like A Man and writes weekly for The Sunday Express in London.

Most recently, George’s latest project is his stage musical, Taboo, a semi-autobiographical, early-80’s romp inspired by the “post-punk” figures of the London club scene where he got his start, opened there in 2002. “I just really wanted to capture some of those people who helped shape my existence and make me the kind of monster I am today,” he laughs. George also stepped onto the stage in his first acting stint which won rave him reviews. The songs for Taboo have been co-written by George with long-time collaborator John Themis, and the songs range from old to new. Songs like “Freak” and “Ode To Attention Seekers” were especially written for Taboo.“Hits” like “Karma Chameleon,” “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me,” and “Bow Down Mister” are also featured. Former TV queen Rosie O’Donnell was so impressed with George and the production, she offered to take George and the show to Broadway. According to O’Donnell, when she approached George, his response was, “Oh Rosie, you’re so suburban.” With that, Rosie chopped her hair to look like former Culture Club performer Helen Terry, and re-approached him, and he said, “Oh Rosie, you’re mad, let’s do it.” George laughs when asked about the story. “She’s a liar! It’s not true at all. On her trip to London we went to dinner and she was walking around with me, and she said, ‘Oh, no one knows me here,’ and we got out of the cab and about five people went ‘Hey Rosie, hey Rosie,’” he laughs. “She’s very nice, I really like her. She’s my kind of girl.” So “do it” they will. Taboo is scheduled to begin previews with the Boy on Broadway on October 24, 2003, with the official opening on November 13, 2003.

© 2003 Steven M. Housman. All Rights Reserved.