Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

The Breakout Club

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

The Breakout Club

Article excerpt

The Pet Shop Boys aren't the only gay-affirming Brits from the go-go '80s who are still grooving

By the mid '80s gays and lesbians on both sides of the Atlantic had plenty to react to, from the conservatism of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher to AIDS, In that milieu many British rockers--like gay Jimmy Somerville of Bronski Beat and Dead or Alive's bisexual Pete Burns--announced they were mad as hell and queer as hell, and they took that fierceness all the way to the charts. Along the way they provided for a generation of gay youths their very first touchstones. Burns, who contributed to the recent Madonna tribute compilation Virgin Voices, and Somerville continue to pop up now and then, while several other major trailblazers are still crankin' out the tunes.

Holly Johnson of Frankie Goes to Hollywood

"The '80s was a very creative and queer-flavored era in British pop," says Johnson, Frankie's provocative former leader. "I hope our openness helped the gay kids to reel good about themselves. I still get letters on that subject. We all need role models, although I did not feel that was my responsibility at the time."

Johnson's openness didn't stop there, He may never have managed to achieve on his own the kind of success he enjoyed with Ids cohorts--who shot to fame with the testosterone-packed 1984 bit "Relax"--but his bold announcement in 1993 that he is HIV-positive elevated him to hero status.

"I went from welfare 10 the top of the charts in a matter of moments, so I was on cloud nine for a while," says Johnson, who detailed his wild past in a biography (naughtily titled A Bone in My Flute). "But I don't really miss the '80s." Still, Johnson does miss his since-passed friends from those days, like disco sensation Sylvester and alterna-rocker Klaus Nomi.

The singer, who lives in London, has lately concentrated on painting; his colorful Gauguinesque looks at island men have been exhibited in Europe. Not that he has fallen out of the groove. Soulstream, his first full-length release since 1991, should wash up soon on these shores as an import via his own record label, Pleasuredome. A video to its first single, "Disco Heaven," an homage to Studio 54, includes an appearance by ...

Boy George

Culture Club's arrival on the '80s scene was embellished by kooky video antics, a wild wardrobe--and their lead singer's sweet voice, heard on chart-toppers such as "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" and "Karma Chameleon. …

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