Boy George dishes on upcoming reality series, 'alien' L.A.
Boy George has always led a hectic life, but in recent years he’s traded debauchery for a more tempered existence. (He got sober in 2008, and has pursued vegan and raw cuisine lately.) EW connected with the former Culture Club frontman and perpetually sui generis pop star Friday, as he sat in the back seat of a London taxi, heading home after a cycling outing. (“It’s a beautiful day in London, and it was a crime to be inside!” he exclaimed.)
The 53-year-old, born George Alan O’Dowd, took some time to explain his just-announced, still untitled docu-series, his upcoming plans for a Culture Club reunion, and what he thinks of his new “alien” home of Los Angeles.
EW: You’ve written two memoirs, produced a fashion line, starred in theater on the West End, you’ve been a touring club DJ for years, and now you have you vegan food line… What else is on your list?
Boy George: Oh my God. I think life offers up all sorts of adventures. Part of the exciting thing is not really knowing where it’s going to go next—because all the old rules about how you do things are out the window now. The old-fashioned way of being an artist no longer exists. So it’s a fun journey where you don’t really know where it’s going to go, how you’re going to connect with people. I think doing a reality show in England would be the worst thing you could ever do.
Why is that?
We watch your ones! We don’t watch our ones. Our ones are kind of—can I say ‘dramatic’? Whereas I think America is kind of leading the way, in the way that “TV” is no longer a dirty word. There’s a lot of great programs coming from America. When I came to L.A. and I met all the [crew] that I’m going to work with, it kind of felt right. It felt like, you know, it could be fun actually. I’ve been approached before [to do TV]. For me it’s a bit of an unknown quantity. But, I suppose, how hard is it to be yourself? [laughs] Of course, that can go wrong, and it has gone wrong. But it’s not like acting—I’m just going to be me.
You’ve lived in New York. Why choose L.A. now? How do you anticipate that L.A. will be different than New York and London when it comes to dating?
Oh, well I don’t know if I am going to be dating! I might be a celibate monk, I don’t know. L.A. suits me now. I used to go to L.A. and complain there was nothing to do. I used to say L.A. was dead from the waist down, but now that I’m approaching 54, I’m not particularly interested in going disco dancing. I’m up for a hike and a bit of pilates. I think L.A., because I’m into healthy eating, it is such a perfect place for that.
In some ways, L.A. kind of has a feel of old America. London and New York have gone through such massive changes. [In L.A.] people say, “Hello,” people talk to you and you’re like, “Why are you talking to me?” They walk up to you and just say random things. It can take you aback… For me, L.A. almost feels like an alien planet. Somebody said to me a couple of years ago, “It’s not a place to visit, it’s a place to live.” Where New York and London can be great places to visit at the moment and then you want to go back to sanity, L.A. is somewhere where you can really get into the groove. I think it’s a good place to work. It’s a good place to get things done.
What are you trying to get done when you’re out there?
Who knows? I have a band I’m working with who I want to hopefully break in America. They’re pretty boys in makeup. [laughs] And I’ve got a few other things. [I want] to just work with some American artists as well. A lot of what I do is creative and that won’t change. I’m a very, very active person in that respect.
You’ve been sober for about seven years. How do you expect L.A. will be different without a drink or a chemical to take the edge off of daily life?
It’s not really an issue for me. I’m not Neely O’Hara [from Valley of the Dolls]. I’ve gone past that stage of my life. It’s not something I think about. It’s been almost a decade, a long time. I’m such a long way away from it in every respect. I go to meetings, and that’s part of my life and will always be part of my life. Perhaps in doing that I might be a good example to anyone else who’s worried about their alcohol consumption or whatever they may do. I think that’s a good thing, to have that in the public domain. I think my own recovery can be a lesson for other people.
I’ve heard you’re a big fan of feng shui.
[laughs] I like symbolic things, kind of religious ideas. Practices and things like that are quite useful because they help to remind you of important stuff. For example, in your house, if you put certain objects in a corner, you’re almost forced every day to remember the importance of your relationships. I always feel like people don’t understand feng shui. It’s some sort of ritual that you do, maybe saying grace before dinner. It’s just kind of teaching you to connect with bigger things in life, things with a lot more value. I’m a Buddhist. I’m also up for taking people on some excursions into different things. Walking on fire, I don’t know. Hugging trees—I’m up for all of it!
So you think you’ll be doing some hiking in L.A.?
I exercise quite regularly. I don’t think that’s that interesting to people. I don’t envision myself being followed around by a camera crew while I’m hiking. It’s somewhat boring, hiking. Maybe they’ll get a helicopter so they can do it from a distance. Hiking is kind of a relaxing thing—I don’t know if you want to have people in bushes. They’d have to be quite subtle.
What are your future plans for Culture Club?
We have the tour coming up. We have our album which is pending, which I’m very, very happy with. I think it’s a fantastic record. That’s in itself a soap opera. That might be enough! [laughs]
Do you think the show will really address Culture Club?
They’re a big part of my life. They’re the reason I’m speaking to you now. Bands are complicated animals, but there’s an underlying affection that’s always there. We started that adventure together. I think in some ways we’re still learning to put up with each other—we’re like every other family.
You have a pretty active Twitter. Are you a fan of social media? And what has that experience been like? That wasn’t around when you first started making music.
Yeah! I know people talk about there being a lot of negativity and trolls and all of that. But I’m surprised, actually, at how nice people are. People just want you to say happy birthday to their mothers and wish them well. I tweet a lot of food stuff, so people seem to be quite into that. They want recipes. I think it’s a great thing. I don’t know what it means, really. I don’t think anyone understands what it means, but I think it’s pretty fun. The trick is that if somebody is nasty, you just block them! And you can’t do that in real life. It’s amazing.