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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > November 2018 > A new lease of Life

A new lease of Life

More than 30 years ago, Culture Club put queer pop on the map. Now, as Boy George explains, they are back with a new album, a fresh take on the world — and the Attitude Music Icons Award

Photography Leigh Keily Styling William Baker

B oy George is a rare breed of pop star. He’s never really been much fussed about what people think of him. Not now, and not 30 years ago when Culture Club first broke new ground. They were a band that could only have been born out of the renegade spirit of the Eighties, which took pride in challenging a world slowly marching towards capitalist conservatism and traditional values.

The New Wave band blended reggae and pop, their sound making them instantly distinctive, with lead singer George’s smooth vocals infusing the songs with heart and soul. Culture Club blended sensuality and spirituality, and Boy George became a figurehead for a new kind of queerness that revelled in fucking with stereotypes.

As the frontman of the band, George received most of the media’s attention, which was fixated on his androgynous look. Typical of his irreverent humour, he famously toyed with questions around his sexuality, saying he preferred a “nice cup of tea” to sex. George later revealed, in his 1995 autobiography Take It Like A Man, that he had been in a secret relationship with bandmate Jon Moss, adding that many of Culture Club’s songs were written about their aff air.

But George’s solo life was to take a darker turn in 2005 when he was convicted in New York for falsely reporting a burglary. A spell in jail in the UK on charges of false imprisonment followed three years later. His life was on a downward spiral of substance abuse. But, where other music stars may have struggled to find their way back from the seemingly limitless temptations that fame and fortune can deliver, Boy George picked himself back up, spent time healing and has since enjoyed a renaissance.

Not quite embracing history, but allowing his legacy and authentic self to step forward and reclaim his rightful spot as a music icon, he repositioned himself as a credible club DJ and producer, returned to TV as a judge on The Voice, and joined Culture Club on a huge US and UK tour ahead of the release of Life, the band’s first album in 19 years, which is out now.

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About Attitude

The Attitude Awards issue! With Adam Rippon, Jess Glynne, George Takei, Boy George, Tituss Burgess & more. Plus: 20 years on from Matthew Shepard’s murder his parents speak about his enduring legacy