Boy George, the Culture Club singer whose androgynous appearance and outlandish comments to the press made him a lightning rod for controversy in the 1980s, turns 55 today. The man behind “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” and “Karma Chameleon” has endured numerous legal, personal, and substance abuse problems over the decades but remains active in the music industry to this day.
Back in 1993, despite some doubts on the part of his understandably nervous manager, Boy George agreed to sit down for a comprehensive interview with shock jock Howard Stern. In those days, Stern was allowing remote-controlled cameras into his radio studio for a popular series on E! Entertainment Television. That show proved so popular that basic cable channel gave him a short-lived spinoff series called The Howard Stern Interview, focusing on one-on-one discussions with various celebrities. Luckily, footage of the Boy George episode has been uploaded to YouTube. It’s a surprisingly serious, earnest talk. The two discuss money, success, fashion, sex, and even Boy George’s infamous appearance on The A-Team. “That was one of the few things I’ve ever done in my life for money,” the singer admits to Stern.
Boy George talks also about the harassment he endured in his youth as a result of the bold fashion choices that he made. He also noted that, in Culture Club’s heyday, it was difficult for straight men to attend the group’s concerts without being mocked. Even some radio stations balked at promoting Culture Club, the singer says. Talking about the atmosphere of the 1990s, Boy George says, “In a way, we’re going backwards. In the early ’80s, it was like all these huge strides, and everything was more free and easy. I think we’re going back. I don’t know if it’s the economics or what, but things are getting more right wing, definitely.”
For more Boy George interview fun, make sure to check out his 1984 sit-down on The Tonight Show with talk-show king Johnny Carson, an old-school show-business professional. What’s amazing about this clip is how wildly different it is from The Tonight Show of 2016. Carson asks Boy George actual questions, and the singer gives him actual responses. No parlor games necessary.