Interview with Boy George
Still outrageous after all these years, Boy George dishes on circuit parties, his latest remix CD, and why Eminem really needs some TLC (and more) from the Boy himself.
Not a lot of people know that Boy George started his musical career at the turntables in 1979, long before he became the extravagant epicenter of early '80s glam-pop as the lead singer of Culture Club. Not long after the band broke up, Boy George decided to return to his love for dance music and launched a highly successful DJ career.
Now the Boy is back with a new dance complication CD, "A Night Out with Boy George: A DJ Mix" (Moonshine 2002). The album features eclectic, freestyling tracks that range from drum 'n base and techno, to house and disco. Boy George decided to trust his own musical taste, going with small label, indie dance tunes that are often overlooked by big-shot producers and their diva-whaling complication CDs.
Boy George is known as much for his outspoken candor as his music, including a recent tiff with fellow '80s survivor Madonna. He was at it again in a candid interview with the Blade. He shared his disgust for corporate record labels and his disappointment with the gay dance scene. He mocks fellow queers Elton John and George Michael and wound things up with a playful rage about Eminem.
Arjan: How did your new album come about?
Boy George: I recorded this album for … Moonshine Records. They really allowed me to pick my own favorite dance tunes for the album. I made a number of albums for other labels before and was often dictated to put certain tracks on the record. I think there are so many compilations out there with the same songs on it. Overall, I wanted this album to be a reflection of what I play in the clubs.
Arjan: Where do see yourself on the dance spectrum as a DJ?
Boy George: In general I play across the board, from old classic tunes to tougher, edgier sounds. I don't really have one style. It very much depends on the size of the audience. In America, my audiences are generally smaller than in the U.K.. When the audience gets bigger, they will also dictate you what to play and if you are a DJ with any kind of integrity you fight against that.
Arjan: How important is your gay fan base?
Boy George: Ha. I don't have a gay fan base, really.
Arjan: You don't?
Boy George: No, I play everywhere. Most of the DJ gigs in America were in gay clubs and on big parties, but I am pretty mainstream in the U.K. The gay scene in the U.K. is very clique-y. It's more about who you sleep with than how good you are.
Arjan: Is there a difference between DJ-ing in America and England?
Boy George: I think the U.K. scene is more vibrant because kids have been clubbing since a very early age. American kids can't do that until they are 21. So my audience in the U.K. is much younger. I found when I play in America, some people in the audience are Culture Club fans just staring at me. From a DJ point of view that is kind of boring. It is not a Boy George concert. It is to dance, you know. I think I have success in cities where there is already an established dance culture. People there realize I am not there to sing "Karma Chameleon."
Arjan: How do you find it to be labeled as a gay artist ?
Boy George: I don't see myself as a gay artist. Now that I am getting older, the word gay doesn't make any sense to me anymore. Plus, all the guys I sleep with tell me they're straight anyway. Sexuality is such a modern thing. If you go back to the Roman times, guys were sucking everything, you know.
I think there is no difference between being gay and being a fireman. You are what you are, and that's the end of it. Some people have called me the world's most famous gay man. That can work in your favor or it can work against you. Actually, it cuts all the crap out. If you meet a guy, you can skip all the small talk and get right to it.
Arjan: Do you think there is a difference between being gay in America and in England?
Boy George: Well, I think in America the gay thing is so much more political. It is in the nature of Americans to be more active and explicit. In England, kids come out much younger and that makes a big difference. It is a cultural difference, actually.
Arjan: What are some of the things that inspire you musically?
Boy George: Boys and baselines! Things like that are sexy. That is what it is all about for me. Hard house turns me off. That is totally horrible, anemic gay disco for straight people. To me it is like war music, music for angry people who can't dance, and who have not found their G-spot yet. It is like if you don't know how swing your hip, get off the dance floor! Gays at least know how use their hips.
Arjan: What do you think of the circuit dance scene in America?
Boy George: I find it interesting. Dance music comes from the gay scene, but there is an assimilation in the gay dance community which is resulting in a loss of identity. Similarly, in the U.K., a lot of people think that the gay culture began with Kylie Minogue's ass. They have no sense of their history you know.
Arjan: Why do you think that has happened?
Boy George: A lot of it is political. The great thing of the '80s was that you had Thatcherism and Reaganism, and gays had something to rally against. Today's pop has no substance. It worries me that these dreary, polished, pop bands are ruling and are not embracing the emotional base of their culture. I think in America people like Busta Rhymes and Missy Elliot are most interesting.
Arjan: How about Eminem?
Boy George: I think he is really clever, but he is just a wanker. He is angry about some shit, man. He needs to have something up the ass, if you know what I mean.
Arjan: Perhaps Eminem's anger is just part of his act…
Boy George: Well, you can say that, but then you can say Hitler was an act as well. I think the duet Elton John did with Eminem was like dancing with the devil. Elton John lives in this rather sad cultural bubble. I don't think he did it out of malice, but he probably thought "Eminem is cool, so I want a bit of that."
I would rather work with somebody really interesting. I would not work with Britney Spears. Why? I don't want her fucking audience.
Arjan: Would you work with George Michael? He has been very outspoken lately.
Boy George: I wouldn't want to work with him either. I think he needs to get out more. He looks like one of the Village People. In his latest video, he looks like a construction worker. You wonder where the other five are. "Why are you gay? Why don't you go away?" [Singing to the tune of Village People's "YMCA"]
You know, my point is, when did George Michael become political? It is like Madonna with her latest video, the car-splashing and all that. With Eminem all of a sudden everybody thinks they need to be outrageous to sell records. Who cares? Elton John said that Eminem was one of the most important artists of his time. It is like comparing fucking Tiffany to Aretha Franklin. Get a grip!
Arjan: Do you think then that today's pop music is lacking musical originality, as opposed to the '80s?
Boy George: Yeah. Obviously Eminem is very intelligent, but he is a brat. He probably needs like three years of therapy and big, hot cock up his ass. Maybe Dr. Dre can do it, who knows. My point is that there are enough of things to say without attacking gay people, like Eminem does.
Arjan: Are you surprised however that his records are selling so well?
Boy George: Selling millions of records doesn't mean anything. People are buying shit paintings. Arms dealers are selling weapon heads to Iraq. Some of the worst things in the world are successful; it doesn't mean they are respectable. I think in America there is a lot of misplaced anger, kids have too much time on their hands, buy this shit and think they are rebellious while they are not. RuPaul is rebellious; I am rebellious.
Arjan: Eminem is really bothering you, isn't he?
Boy George: You know what? I am coming over and fuck Eminem to sort him out. He probably has a small dick. I'd like to fuck him anyway. Tie him up. Fuck him and hear him moan: "Fag, do it again/Fag, do it again/Yo, Eminem." I am going to use that line. You will hear it soon.
Arjan: Can we keep that on the record?
Boy George: Yeah, you can quote me all you want. I don't give a shit. If I find him, I will knock him out.
Battle of the Divas
This season, three of America's best-selling divas face off in a high-stakes battle to regain critical success and public recognition. Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton and Mariah Carey all dealt in recent years with an ongoing media frenzy surrounding their respective drug use, financial troubles and mental breakdown.
Whitney Houston has faced incredible public scrutiny with speculations of her out-of-control cocaine addiction and alleged homosexuality. Houston kept going strong, releasing the impressive "My Love Is Your Love" in 1998, which delivered the mega (remix) hit "It's Not Right, But It's Okay."
On her newest, "Just Whitney," the 39-year-old singer sets out to continue her hit streak. Produced by talents such as Babyface, Missy Elliot and Kevin "She'kespere" Briggs, the album has a dominating R&B vibe with some mandatory pop elements.
"Just Whitney" seems to be just that, not delivering the excitement and stamina her previous records showed. On songs such as "Tell Me No" and "Love That Man" the musical arrangements appear uninspired and the melodies rather dull with their one-size-fits-all production.
The singer rebounds briefly at the album's last track "Whatchulookinat," the flopped radio single on which the artist shows her teeth and lashes out against the media for prying into her personal life.
After a string of number one hits and Grammy awards, Mariah Carey encountered the dark side of success when her first feature film "Glitter" and the accompanying movie soundtrack flopped in 2001. At the same time, the singer had to deal with the death of her father and a break-up with Latin singer Luis Miguel.
As a result of all this turmoil, Carey was forced to check herself into a private clinic to deal with severe physical and mental exhaustion.
Carey turns her grief into art on her latest album, "Charmbracelet." The album features Carey writing and co-producing with such A-list producers as Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Jermaine Dupri and others. "Charmbracelet" features some of her most personal songwriting, which is fully evident on songs such as "Through The Rain," "My Saving Grace" and "Sunflower for Alfred Roy."
The singer's emotion-filled lyrics are carefully weaved into sweet-voiced, subtle R&B arrangements that feature Carey's remarkable high-pitch vocals. This album proves that the singer is back at the top of her game writing and performing songs that combine style with real substance.
Toni Braxton is not only a diva, but also an aspiring Broadway actress, savvy business woman and proud mother. No wonder she titled her new album "More Than A Woman." After a shattering bankruptcy and dragging court drama, Braxton came out strong, winning against her record label, getting a hefty pay raise and a new record deal.
On "More Than A Woman," the husky-voiced Braxton introduces an edgier sound with the help of production duo the Neptunes, who are known for producing Britney Spears' "I'm A Slave 4 U." The groovy "Hit The Freeway," the acoustic-flavored "Rock Me, Roll Me" and the rocky "Lies, Lies, Lies" feature the "musical mistress of heartache" in top shape, showing off La Braxton's sexy attitude drenched in an infectious, hip-hop sound.
In this year's battle of the divas, Carey and Braxton clearly prove themselves. Houston stays outside the ring for now, but fortunately, has shown that her diva spirit is strong and will perhaps prevail in the next round.