ENTERTAINMENT, MUSIC, POP, POP CULTURE

Boy George Iconography: The life, work and struggles of an ’80s icon

March 17, 2014

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Premiering on Saturday, March 22 at 10 am ET on OutQ, Ch. 109.
Encore presentations will air March 22 at 8 pm; Sunday, March 23 at 9 am and 7 pm; Saturday, March 29 at 10 am and 8 pm; and Sunday, at 9 am and 7 pm ET.

The subject of this month’s edition of Iconographyan exclusive series that honors the life, career, and impact of iconic personalities on SiriusXM’s 24/7 LGBT channel OutQ–Boy George sat down with Larry Flick for an in-depth conversation in front of a studio audience shortly before releasing This is What I Do, his first pop album in over a decade. He discusses the origin of the project, as well as how his longtime battle with heroin addiction informed the album’s material.

In examining his six years of sobriety to date, George reflects on the combustible collision of drug culture with fame, noting the recent passing of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. “[For me], you have compassion because you’re an addict,” he says. “People can be unforgiving. But it’s not a vocation. It’s not something that people choose. People who are addicts are often surprised that it’s happened to them.”

Boy George also reflects on Justin Beiber’s ongoing problems. “When I was 22, I had no idea of the cultural impact I was having. I was a young man and full of my own self-importance. When people try to help you, you don’t always appreciate it. The stakes are higher. You can make more money now and make it a lot quicker. I can’t imagine him wanting to be told what to do right now. I didn’t back then.”

George contrasts the current demands of fame with his own ‘80s heyday. “Back then, we were naive,” he says. “We believed that we were going to change the world. But in a weird way, I have no connection to what it was like. I see old videos of myself or I hear old interviews. I recognize that person, but I also can’t imagine how I managed to cross the road when I was like that, let alone have a career. It’s bonkers. At the height of Culture Club mania, you just went along with it. There was no time to think.”

The artist also traces his history as a British kid during the ‘80s, who was in love with music, fashion, and club culture, “and searching for a perfect way to bring it all together.” He offers insight into the impact of his gender-bending image on his working-class Catholic family. “For years, my pictures were turning up in magazines, and my mother wondered why people wanted to take my picture,” he recalls. “When I joined a band, it started to make sense to them.” And talks about his first memories of stardom.

Throughout the Iconography interview, George reveals the details surrounding his evolution with faith and spirituality, his views of sexuality and masculinity, as well as the prospects of a Culture Club reunion.

“We’re writing songs and seeing how it feels,” he says. “So far, it’s been fun. I’m optimistic about where it can lead.”