Boy George Opens Up About Culture Club And Gender Fluidity In The ‘80s


Boy George gender fluidityBoy George gender fluidity

People magazine celebrated its 50th anniversary with a flashback of Boy George’s first-ever interview with the outlet, coinciding with the release of the entertainer’s memoir, Karma: My Autobiography, which tells the story of his tumultuous childhood and thriving career.

George, who turns 64 in June, graced the August 1983 issue, A Boy Named George Breaks Down the Sex Barriers in Rock’s Outrageous Culture Club, where he talked about his controversial portrayal, the Culture Club band, and family.

Boy George talks about how he started Culture Club

Boy George talks about gender fluidityBoy George talks about gender fluidity

George grew up with five siblings in Bexleyheath, South London, and was the odd one in his Irish-Catholic family. While his father would coach at the boxing club, George would attend discos in stilettos and Carmen Miranda headwear. “I started wearing my hair like this just out of boredom,” he revealed. “I had long hair and couldn’t think of what to do with it.”

He worked as a makeup artist and then as a model before he began fronting for the New Wave group, Bow Wow Wow in 1981. That same year, George formed Culture Club with bassist Michael Craig, drummer Jon Moss, and guitarist Roy Hay. Although not a musician, George wrote songs and borrowed from R&B groups like the Four Tops and Gladys Knight and the Pips. “I am a plagiarist. I try everything,” he confessed.

Boy GeorgeBoy George

Thriving amid controversy

George crafted his narrative with his unique appearance featuring makeup, plucked brows, lipstick, brightly-colored clothes, and ballet shoes. “I’m a very masculine person,” he insisted, contradicting the average impression of him. “I don’t dress up. This is the way I am.” He recalled that while other celebrities snubbed him, the late Princess Diana acknowledged him at an event and complimented his outfit. “That must have taken forever,” she had said.

Boy George talks about gender fluidityBoy George talks about gender fluidity

George’s band thrived amid pushbacks, with their debut album — Kissing to Be Clever — going platinum in England and gold in the US. Their reggae single “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” sold 6.5 million copies, while the second, “Time (Clock of the Heart),” made the top five. “I was aware that the things that I did bothered people, but that only spurred me on even more. The more I dressed up, the more people reacted, the more I wanted to do it,” he once said.


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