As Boy George and Culture Club kicked off their 2018 summer tour in Florida in late June, the outspoken frontman who shifted perceptions in music, fashion and sexuality admitted to some trepidation about hitting the road.
“For me, I always feel like, Will I remember what to do? Will I engage with the audience? It’s always a bit scary,” says George during a rare day off. “And it’s very warm here — I’m not dressed for this weather.”
Culture Club’s “Life Tour,” which visits the Hard Rock Rocksino Aug. 8, features the group’s classic hits, as well as tracks from its highly anticipated new album, due out later this year.
“It’s very soulful,” says the 57-year-old George. “We’re a soul-punk-funk combo from the U.K. I could never write a song like ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?’ today. You can only really perform songs as the person you are now.”
Ever the chameleon, George breaks down the pitfalls of fame, his role as an LGBT icon and more.
Q: What was the first song that resonated with you when you were young?
A: I remember a Pearl Bailey song called “Protect Me” that had quite a big impact on me. I remember watching Shirley Bassey on TV in a strapless white gown and listening to Dusty Springfield and Gladys Knight. I would spend many an evening in the dark listening to “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me.” It was all about drama.
Q: Culture Club was the ultimate overnight success, selling more than 150 million records worldwide in the 1980s. What was that like?
A: Fame is definitely something that swallows you up. When people start treating you different, it will have an effect on you. You have to understand what it can do to you and put it on a strong leash. It takes a lot of time and a lot of heartache. I see it all very differently now.
Q: Who makes up your audiences these days?
A: We’re building the ark — we have two of everything. We’re one-stop shopping for anyone who feels a little different. To my surprise, we have quite a few Republican fans. People who are Trump supporters wonder if I’m going to go on a political rant on stage. My entire life’s a political rant.
Q: How important was it to be at the forefront of gender presentation and LGBT issues?
A: When I was a teenager, I got kicked and punched in the street. I’ve never felt the need to suppress myself. The most political thing you can ever do is be yourself.