On the eve Culture Club's comeback tour, Boy George talks about his band's troubled history, the joys of reuniting, his still-tense relationship with ex-lover Jon Moss, and what may be his favorite subject of all, George Michael
When Culture Club won Best New Artist at the 1982 Grammy Awards, the band's cross-dressing leader, Boy George, quipped, "America knows a good drag queen when they see one." This summer, when Culture Club regroups for a nationwide reunion tour, George and the boys hope America will once again embrace one of pop's queerest success stories.
Although the band never officially called it quits, it seemed to dissolved as the '80s came to a close. Perhaps the pressure of George's spiraling drug use and the breakup of his tumultuous relationship with band member Jon Moss proved too much for the group's tenuous dynamic to bear.
In the succeeding years George got off drugs, hit the Billboard top 20 as a solo act with "The Crying Game," formed his own record label called More Protein, wrote his autobiography, Take It Like a Man, and forged a booming career as an international DJ. Throughout the past decade George's relationships with the other members of the band have ranged from cordial (with guitarist Roy Hay) to hostile (toward drummer Moss) to nonexistent (with bassist Mikey Craig).
Cynical music fans may look at this tour--which also features the Human League and Howard Jones--as an opportunity for the band to cash in on the growing wave of '80s nostalgia. Whatever the reasons, gay music fans can take this rare opportunity to hear an unabashedly out singer on a major national tour, which kicks off in Atlanta on July 23 and will mark the band's first live shows in 13 years. It will also coincide with the release of a double CD, one disc to include greatest hits and the other to feature the band's studio performance on VH1's upcoming Storytellers special, airing June 14.
The following interview took place over tea in George's suite at the Regency Hotel in Manhattan during the band's press junket for the tour. Seemingly weary from talking to so many journalists, one after the other, the wonderfully irreverent George perked up considerably when the conversation veered toward topics like ex-lover Moss, the nature of sexuality in the '90s, and, of course, the April arrest of George Michael.
So tell me how Culture Club got back together.
About three months ago, Roy [Hay] came to London. I think he'd been talking to my manager, Tony [Gordon, the original manager of Culture Club and George's manager since the band's breakup], and they had been scheming behind my back. So I went to see them to talk about doing this tour. My initial reaction was, "Jon's not doing it. He's not in the band. I'm going to use my [current] drummer." And Roy said OK, but I could tell he wasn't happy with that. And then I thought, That would be a really cruel thing to do. So I called Tony and said, "Jon's got to be in the band. If we do it, it has to be proper."
And you hadn't seen Jon in how long?
When I interviewed Jon earlier, he said you said some horrible things about him in your book, Take It Like A Man, and that they aren't true.
Everything I said in the book was true. Of course Jon is going to say that book is full of lies. But the book is balanced. I say lots of bad things about myself in that book. I knew that if I was going to say stuff about Jon, I had to say stuff about myself.
And then you called him a liar on the Behind the Music show because he has always denied that the two of you were involved in a relationship.
He was a liar. You don't think he was?
No, I'm not saying that. He did avoid talking about your relationship on the VH1 show, but now it seems he's changed his tune. He was very honest with me. He told me he had been in love with you, and he admitted to having a relationship with you. …