In a new interview with ES Magazine, Boy George gets honest and personal about his time in jail, his drug addiction, and his new gig as a judge on UK’s The Voice. He also opens up about his sexuality and how he was influenced by David Bowie as a child.
When he speaks about prison, he does so with appreciation for the gifts he gained from it.
“It’s something that happened, and sitting here worrying about whether it was the right thing and ‘Did I deserve it?’…it happened. And I dealt with it.”
“I went through the whole, ‘What have you done? This is not my life. This is a disaster’. But I always had the sense that I’d get through it. The gift it gave me was time with myself. I went into prison sober. I knew I had a lot of work to do. I’ve worked very hard at getting myself back in shape, getting my career back, getting my self-respect back. I knew it would take time, and it has. But I’m starting to feel the rewards of that work.”
But George is definitely clear that he would never chose that for himself again.
“No, I don’t think that’s the only route to wisdom. I would never choose that for myself. I’m not glad I did it. I don’t look back with any affection. I sometimes hear people talking about their exploits and it’s almost like they miss it. I definitely don’t miss it.”
“I’ve been lucky in that people have always been very nice to me. I’ve often wondered what I’ve done to deserve it. But even through everything I’ve never felt unloved. I’ve made mistakes – obviously, there’s a lot of things I would happily erase from my past. But to a certain degree I’ve taken responsibility for everything that’s happened to me; I’ve never blamed anyone else. And people are very forgiving.”
Boy George also went into detail about how important it was for him to admit to his drug addiction.
“I’m in recovery and I hear a lot of people talking about how drugs destroyed their lives. It’s not unique to pop stars. An addict is an extreme person whether it’s drugs or fame or being in love or food.”
“An addict is an addict. But until you can say, ‘I’m an addict’, you can’t start to make peace with those demons. I struggled with that for years. I went to NA meetings, I went to see counsellors [but] I wouldn’t say it. It felt like a defeat. When I finally did, I was like, ‘What a relief! That’s what I am!’”
As far as George’s comeback, he has signed on to be a judge on UK’s The Voice in an effort to remain relevant.
“The music industry of 20 years ago doesn’t exist. If you’re smart you work out new ways up the mountain. I don’t want to become a TV personality. I’m first and foremost a musician. But people won’t know about that if I’m not on the telly. That’s why I’ve done The Voice.”
Also Boy George reflected on what it was like growing up as a gay kid and the incredible influence David Bowie had on his life.
“Even when I was ten, I just thought, ‘It’s what I’m meant to be and that’s the end of it’. I never, ever wanted to be straight.”
“Once I discovered Ziggy Stardust I felt there were other people like me out there and I just needed to meet them.”
And when he became a teenager, There was such a separation between normal people and us. You’d walk down the street and people would literally scream and run away!”
“Bowie was putting on an act: ‘I’m an alien’. It was really out there but also really considered. I loved that but that’s not me. I was just being myself.”
When George learned of Bowie’s death, he cried for two straight days. “I knew it was coming. I knew he was ill. We used to exchange emails and that stopped a while back, but I heard things.”
Boy George also shares that though he is currently single, he is a happy person and a whole person all on his own.
“I’m happy a lot of the time. I mean, really, what have I got to complain about? I reached a point a few years ago where I suddenly realised that no one was going to complete me. I’m certainly not the gung-ho romantic that I was.”
“I’m single. If someone amazing comes along, great. But I’m not holding my breath. There’s no big emptiness in my life. My appetite for self-destruction and misery is greatly diminished. I’m not interested in being unhappy.”
To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s issue of ES Magazine – out Thursday 14th April 2016.