Nine years sober and back on tour, the Culture Club star talks about the power of positivity and why pop needs mystery
I can tell you from bitter experience that there are more relaxing ways of preparing for an interview with a legendary pop star than reading their memoirs and unexpectedly stumbling across a page where they explain at some length why they think you’re an arsehole. But there it is, or rather there I am, on page 133 of Boy George’s second autobiography, 2006’s Straight, getting it in the neck as the result of an unnecessarily sour live review I wrote years and years ago. Worse, I think he’s probably got a point; although I didn’t say he had never written a good song, I did say “Culture Club never had many good songs to start with”, which rather reckons without Time (Clock of the Heart) and Victimsand It’s a Miracle, among others, let alone his solo songs such as 2013’s gospelly power ballad King of Everything. At least I can console myself with the fact that I’m in pretty glittering company on the old blacklist: over the course of Straight, he lets pretty much everyone have it, from George Michael (“please shut up – throw her a cerise boa”) to Prince (“the Artist Formerly Known As Get a Personality”).
Nevertheless, it’s hard not to arrive at his publicist’s office with a degree of trepidation. But no, we’re all good. He has long distanced himself from Straight – he told an interviewer a couple of years ago that it was “the rantings of a deranged drug user”, written during a grim spiral that culminated in him ending up in prison in 2009 for assault and false imprisonment. He says he can’t remember the review in question, and he doesn’t bear grudges. “I forgive very easily, and I suppose, in the same way, I expect to be forgiven very easily as well. I grew up with that. My dad was very explosive, God rest his soul. He could fly off the handle like no one I’ve ever known, and I have definitely got that in my personality, that ability to sort of smash the house up and then say: ‘Put the kettle on,’ to have that kind of attitude of: ‘Well, I’m OK now, so everybody else has got to be OK.’ People are like: ‘No, I’m not OK, you just screamed at me,’ and I’m like: ‘Yeah, but get over it.’”
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