More than 30 years after Boy George shook up the pop world with his sexually ambiguous appearance in Culture Club’s video for “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” on the fledgling music station MTV, he’s still turning heads.
On Thursday night, the British music, fashion and LGBT icon, real name George O’Dowd, will take the stage at an exclusive party celebrating the grand opening of the SLS Brickell Hotel & Residences in Miami, performing a half-hour set with his 11-piece band.
Culture Club won’t be there, but Boy George will sing the group’s top hits, including “Karma Chameleon,” “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya,” “Miss Me Blind,” “Time (Clock of the Heart),” “Church of the Poison Mind” and, of course, “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me.”
Miami.com caught up with the Boy to talk about the show, why he turned to practicing Buddhism, why he joined the cast of the upcoming “Celebrity Apprentice,” and his thoughts on the election.
What can we expect from your set?
It’s about six or seven songs, so it’ll be all the stuff people know, all the classics. It’ll be hit after hit after hit, and then we’ll be gone.
You’re in Miami a lot – what do you like about it?
Well, the last time we were in Miami, it was very stormy, so it wasn’t really like being in Miami. It was very strange, like “Oh my God, I’ve just come from London, where we’re used to cold weather, and suddenly I’m in Miami, and it’s a storm.” That was quite trippy. I’ve been in Miami at Christmas and it was boiling hot. I did that Art Basel festival one December, and it was blazing hot, and this time around it was quite a different experience. But I really like Miami – obviously it’s more fun when it’s hot and you can really enjoy the weather, because that’s what Miami is about, isn’t it?
What’s the craziest night you’ve had in Miami?
Again, it involves the weather. I did a gig in Miami one New Year’s Eve with The B-52’s and a few other people, and it was the coldest winter in Miami for 90 years. We went onstage in our winter clothes and everyone was freezing cold, and we went to a nightclub afterward and my friend fell off the stage and broke his leg [laughs]. It was one of the most memorable times I’ve had in Miami.
Will you be here during Art Basel this year?
No, we’re heading off to Australia and New Zealand. We’ve got this gig in Miami, and then I’m going back to London, and then I’m for Christmas I’m in Hong Kong and Thailand. And then I’ll be back in America in the New Year, because I begin “Celebrity Apprentice,” which starts in January.
What inspired you to join that show?
It was one of those things that I thought would be quite challenging. You get to do stuff that you wouldn’t normally do. I’m not really a business person as such – I think of myself as a creative. Obviously I’m involved in business, but I tend to concentrate on creative things, whether it’s songwriting or doing fashion, or performing. So doing something like “Celebrity Apprentice” is quite challenging, because it’s so out of my comfort zone. I’ve done a little bit of it, and it was real fun, and I surprised myself. Unfortunately I can’t give much away, but I don’t know how I’m gonna come across, because I’m out of my normal environment, and I’m working with people that I wouldn’t normally work with. So it’s interesting, because you’ve got Arnold Schwarzenegger, who’s the new boss, and he’s a lot of fun and I’ve got along quite well with him, surprisingly. I found him quite humorous and entertaining, and I’ve really enjoyed it.
I guess Donald Trump is not involved this time?
[Laughs] I heard he got fired in the first week!
Do you have any thoughts on the election?
I don’t think anything I could say right now would be very helpful [laughs]. I mean, obviously, as a British person, when the whole thing was happening I was making comments on Twitter and I was having fun with it, but now it feels like it’s done, you know? And there’s no point in saying anything, because it’s such an unknown entity in so many ways. You’ve got all the things that were said during the race, a lot of xenophobia, homophobia and all of that, and I think it’s really important for Donald Trump to kind of say something, and say something soon. I mean, politicians say a lot of things they don’t mean during these times. But I don’t really know what kind of president he’s going to be, but you have to remain optimistic, and we just have to wait and see what happens.
I don’t think there’s a lot of love in mainstream politics – the real love comes from relief workers, charity workers, people who give of themselves freely. That’s where the real love is. People who turn up at earthquakes and disasters – people who volunteer. That’s where the real heart and soul is.
Is it true you’re practicing Buddhism now?
Yeah, I’ve been practicing Nichiren Buddhism, which is a Japanese Buddhism, and I’ve been doing it for about five years. And I feel that it really helps me to focus on things that I want, and personal happiness, and it just helps me to remain calm and optimistic. It’s a great practice, especially during times like this. When in doubt, chant “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.”