Boy George flaunts mermaid make-up and vixen eyebrows, however you’ll by no means catch him with a trout pout. Regardless of his apparent love of artifice, the pop star frowns on overfilled lips and eerily frozen foreheads.
“I’m horrified on the manner gorgeous, lovely persons are disfiguring themselves to allow them to appear to be another person,” the gregarious 57-year-old Tradition Membership frontman tells Alexa, backstage earlier than a packed live performance outdoors Chicago on the band’s world reunion tour.
“After I consider all of the laborious work I’ve accomplished to get individuals to be people — and now all people desires to have this bizarre look that’s simply boring. And sure, I’m making a judgment!” he proclaims, bursting into boisterous laughter. “There was a image of [Lady] Gaga the opposite day actually trying fishy and I made a remark on Twitter. It wasn’t essentially about her, I simply assume that persons are attention-grabbing due to their defects and their facial character.”
As the primary multi-racial band with an overtly homosexual singer, Tradition Membership has at all times serenaded self-acceptance. Now, because the multi-platinum British band prepares to drop its first album in almost 20 years subsequent month (referred to as “Life”), that ethos nonetheless resonates.
“Our message has at all times been: For those who really feel disenfranchised or left of middle, we’re the one-stop store for that,” says the “Karma Chameleon” and “Do You Actually Need to Damage Me” crooner, whose shiny crimson and black stage eye shadow makes him appear to be he went a few rounds with Tyson Fury. “You don’t should be completely different to be attention-grabbing, however there’s nothing unsuitable with being completely different. Being completely different is a reward.”
As nonconformist as George has at all times been, he stays true to his sound. “It wasn’t the intention to write down a pop document, however I believe we simply can’t assist it,” he says, referring to Tradition Membership’s catchy new tracks, just like the reggae-inflected “Let Anyone Love You.” “It’s simply in our nature: We like melodic songs and we would like them to get to the purpose as rapidly as attainable.”
George Alan O’Dowd (as he was born), grew up in southeast London, the third of six youngsters in a noisy, working-class Irish Catholic clan. “I attempted in useless to be like different youngsters,” he writes in “Take It Like A Man,” his dishy 1995 memoir. “I couldn’t disguise my female nature.”
The self-described “pink sheep of the household” was expelled from college at 15 for truancy. By then, the David Bowie and Marc Bolan fan had bleached his spiky hair white and was decked out in paint-spattered togs strewn with chains, pins and padlocks.
Within the early 1980s, George shaped Tradition Membership with Jon Moss (drums), Mikey Craig (bass) and Roy Hay (guitar-keyboards). His proto-punk look advanced into a freewheeling androgynous model: Cleopatra make-up, pirate garments and ribbon-tied dreadlocks topped with giant, colourful hats.
The soul-meets-reggae-plus-funk-and-country band went on to promote greater than 100 million singles and 50 million albums, successful the 1984 Grammy for Finest New Artist. At its peak, a sighting of the long-lasting group and its flamboyant diva may trigger a close to riot.
‘There was a level in my earlier life after I undoubtedly felt tremendous trapped by who I used to be. I bought bored of that, so I modified.’
However inside a few years, the pressures of fame had taken a toll. Riven by character clashes and the top of George’s secret love affair with Moss, the band broke up in 1986. As soon as a leisure drug consumer, the singer grew to become a full-fledged heroin addict. Though he went on to turn out to be a profitable solo artist, DJ and co-creator of the West Finish and Broadway musical “Taboo,” through which he had a position, his profession was stymied by a number of arrests, group service and jail time (for assault and false imprisonment). However on March 2, 2008, he lastly bought clear.
Right now, he’s a Buddhist who doesn’t eat meat and avoids sugar and strife. “I’m a excellent particular person! I dwell on macadamia nuts and kale!” jokes the performer, who co-authored the 2001 macrobiotic “Karma Cookbook.” “I eat very clear. I’m at all times experimenting with fasting, and attempting one meal a day, extra to see if it impacts my normal equilibrium.”
His legendary snark has even subsided. Up to now, the word-slinger shaded Madonna and dissed George Michael. Right now, he praises Prince. The reformed George is chatty, self-aware, surprisingly cautious to not be catty and virtually — however not fairly — earnest.
“After I was youthful, being bitchy was about defending myself,” he explains. “I’m quippy, fairly than bitchy. If I’m tweeting one thing, I don’t need to be merciless.”
Aware George can be a lot kinder to himself. Whereas within the ’80s he may need gone clubbing after a live performance or closed down a lodge bar, the older and wiser George works out and rests up. He describes his pre-show routine as “fitness center, hang around, yoga, watch crap TV, watch issues on the web. Strive and see town if it feels acceptable.”
At dwelling in London, he can hop on the bus or take the tube incognito, which fits him. “As soon as I’ve bought the glad rags off and a pair of sun shades on, I’m just about not bothered,” says the hit-maker, who’s draped in free black layers. “You get the odd one who will clock you — my voice provides me away and my eyes undoubtedly give me away. Generally I believe I ought to be extra mysterious, but it surely’s simply not the street I’ve taken.”
It’s a distinction from the raucous ’80s. “Again then, you have been kind of a prisoner of your movie star,” he remembers. “I didn’t like all that screaming and operating after you. If someone was a mad, marauding fan, they might discover a manner of attending to you. There’s a little extra calmness now.
“I’ve sort of been on a actual journey with the entire fame factor,” he provides. “There was a level in my earlier life after I undoubtedly felt tremendous trapped by who I used to be. I bought bored of that, so I modified. I’m far more comfy with being a figment of different individuals’s creativeness!”
Though he’s seen as swaggy, George swears he’s not a slave to luxurious labels. “I’ve been sporting a lot of my very own artwork on my garments and portray stuff,” he says, holding up a black shirt with childlike drawings on it — much like the customized items he rocks on this picture shoot. “I don’t care about garments, however I additionally love them. That’s fairly Gemini, isn’t it?
“Loads of excessive style is about sporting cash,” says the sometime-designer, who based his B-Impolite line in 2005 and modeled for Dior final 12 months. “It’s about saying, ‘Look how costly I’m, I’ve bought this purse!’ I’m not that sort of shopper. I believe that individuals can get fairly judgmental. Particularly in style, the unsuitable earrings can topple an empire.”
Feels like a pair he’d need to put on.
Photographs: Rankin; Clothes: Boy George’s artwork work was translated into customized seems to be by costume makers in London; Hats: A Little one Of The Jago; Footwear: Alexander McQueen.