The wisdom of Boy George | Features | MN2S

Boy George has maintained his position as a musical icon for decades. It takes some serious wisdom to do that. The ‘Karma Chameleon’ singer has it by the bucketload.

Beginning his career in the 80s, Boy George has found success as the singer of Culture Club, a globe-trotting DJ, a TV star, and a solo artist who has performed with many of the world’s greats. Needless to say, the singer has experienced enough to fill several lifetimes.

After a much-loved stint as a judge on BBC’s The Voice, and a widely-watched performance on Children in Need (in which he paid tribute to fellow 80s icon Prince), Boy George is still relentlessly creating and performing.

We trawled through some of his interviews from recent years to put together a picture of an accomplished artist who is more comfortable in his own skin than ever before.

…on the power of youth

“When you’re 19, you have this unbelievable feeling that you have this undeniable right to be who you want to be. I look at myself at 19 and think I would never do what I did then now! I was so brazen, so confident, so fearless in a way. And remember, the world was a very aggressive place then. People would punch you in the face [for looking different] — and that happened a lot to me. But that didn’t stop me from wanting to dress up. It made me want to dress up more! How bizarre! It’s the Irish in me, I think. It’s kind of a teenage thing: ‘I’m right, you’re wrong. Of course this is what I should look like!”

…on fighting for equality

“Sam Smith can say, ‘I’m gay,’ and no one goes on about it. “I always think that change is like a daisy chain. People that kind of made my life easier, like Bowie, Quentin Crisp, Oscar Wilde, Sylvester, Klaus Nomi, it goes on and on and on… there are people that get the glory. And in a funny sort of way, it’s the world that I wanted to be in. It’s that world I was fighting for in 1984. That was what I wanted. I wanted people not to care about whether you were gay, straight, black, white, transgender, whatever it may be… that being said, there’s more work to be done… I still want to change the world, absolutely. And I feel like we did back then was part of that.”

…on addiction

“Addiction is about not being in your life, not being in your body and not being in the world. You get so far into it that you kind of confuse it and obviously if you’re lucky enough to get it back to a place where you go, “Life is beautiful, life is great, life is worth enjoying,” then, of course, your perspective comes completely different. And having done that myself I can look at my former self and go, “I don’t know who the fuck you were. I don’t know what you thought you were doing because you were having a fit time.” Now I’m having a great time. The other thing, for me, is I didn’t realise you could invest in happiness. I have discovered that the real joy comes from kind of small shit, mundane stuff. That’s the real pleasure, particularly if you have a life full of fireworks and extremities and sound effects, you find that simply going for a coffee with some friends or having a decent conversation or a nice meal can be so much more pleasurable than other stuff.”

…on giving up smoking

I was really struggling to sing. Every time I sang was like going into the ring. And I thought I’d better stop smoking. It was obvious: I’m asthmatic, and I sing! One of my close friends, who’s a Hare Krishna, said “What are you doing?! Stop smoking!” And I literally put down my cigarette and stopped. Because I was so angered by that comment, “I can’t believe he said that!” I wanted to record this Italian song called ‘Nel Sole’ just for fun, and I couldn’t quite get it, because it’s a big dramatic song. And after about six months of giving up smoking, I was able to do it.. I don’t get ill these days, I don’t lose my voice, I’ve got quite a Teflon throat now. I can go deeper, I can go louder, I can sing for longer.”

…on longevity

“My whole career was an accident. The only reason I started a band is that everyone else was doing it. I had no ambition. At first, I just wanted the bohemian lifestyle. Then I met Jon Moss and he joined my band, and I was in a relationship with him and it was, oh my God, then I really got into the whole thing. But it’s only in the last six years I’ve come to look at what I do as a job and I do it with more respect. But it’s not ‘all or nothing’ any more, like it was when I was younger. I can’t imagine living my life feeling like that ever again. I had no ‘off’ button. I was an extreme person.”

Sources: The QuietusYahoo MusicBillboard, The Big Issue

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