Homo homini rodentius est

The Crying Game

Boy George Then and Now
(Bad) karma, Chameleon…

Time has not been kind to Boy George. Sentenced last week to 15 months in jail for brutalizing a hooker, The Mirror [gleefully reports] — courtesy of a loose-lipped fellow inmate — the pathetic state to which George O’Dowd has been reduced: blubbering in a corner of his jail cell and fearful for his life once he joins the jailhouse rabble. Ironically, according to the report of jailhouse insiders, upon his debut at the jail he was mobbed by inmates seeking his autograph, not his blood. The chatty inmate who provided The Mirror with their quotes remarks upon how he tried to comfort the distraught singer:

“I joked that it wasn’t all bad and said he might even find himself a new boyfriend inside prison. But he just started crying again.”

He could take a lesson or two from Martha Stewart on how to manage the slammer. Tears are probably not the best bet. One wants to laugh at the pathetic spectacle of it — and many will — but one also wants to kick O’Dowd’s fat arse from here to kingdom come for orchestrating this stunningly Grand Guignol downfall (he is currently on suicide watch in the prison). For many people (read “straight” people), Boy George was always something of a clown, but for some of us (read “queers”) he was a bona fide hero back in the day. My first awareness of him came while I was still living in my backwater town in upstate New York. One day while listening to the radio, “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” came on. I enjoyed the unique, blowsy sound of the singer’s voice but what got my interest more was the brief exchange between the DJs that happened after the song. “So, is that a guy?” one asked. “I don’t know,” said the other, “the picture on the album looks like a girl, but I think it’s a guy!” I was hooked. I liked the music, but I admired George more, who pushed queerness so far into people’s faces that they couldn’t avoid it. What I admired most was that he didn’t hedge — in a decade when the most flamboyant characters could still play “Is he, isn’t he?” about their identities, George had the balls to accept Culture Club’s Best New Artist Grammy in 1984 by telling the world, “Thanks America, you’ve got style, you’ve got taste, and you know a good drag queen when you see one.” Heroic.

But he didn’t have the goods to sustain the persona. I felt a bit defeated when he admitted to heroin addiction — a sign of weakness that reinforced the perception of queers as damaged goods. His subsequent slide from grace has continued fairly unabated and now reaches perhaps its nadir. But, for awhile at least, he was the most amazingly transgressive thing on the planet. As evidence I present you with this gem (dug up by [Toby Graham] via FriendFeed):

Boy George + A-Team = Classic Camp

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