Wednesday, October 18

By George!

Rachel Calton finds the class of an 80s icon transcends the rubbish he's forced to deal with

So the mystery behind Boy George's weird, fake burglary call basically comes down to drugs and confusion. By his own confession, in The Madness of Boy George (Tuesday, 9pm Channel 4) he was busy chatting to a photograph, which was chatting back to him, shortly before he became so paranoid that his house was being invaded and burgled, that he called up the police to get them to arrest the imaginary intruders.

All they discovered however, was the bag of coke in his bedroom (whether you believe it was one bag or 17 depends really on whether you buy George's story or the New York cops' but I'm going with the fact, that if you had stacks of the goodstuff sitting around your pad, it would take more than a delusional moment or two to personally call up the cops and invite them over for a quick rummage, paranoid or not.)

But, the bigger question here is: what was George doing at home all alone with a bag of coke in New York city in the first place? Surely we are more accustomed to him exhibiting his outlandish head gear at gigs up and down the worldwide DJing circuit, and if not that, at least at home tracking down hot young male escorts for company on the net.

This is George on a downer. A big fuckoff downer, after his west-end, semi- autobiographical hit Taboo crumbled and failed on Broadway, leaving him washed up in New York city, a crestfallen, 'has-been', too ashamed to return to England with his tail between his legs, yet with no friends in New York to help him pick up the pieces.

A gay boy without his pride.

But this is where the irony of this tragi-comedy kicks in, why did the show fall so flat on its face? Apparently because Rossie O'Donnel 'sanitised' the show to suit the American audience. Sanitise?! It's supposed to be breaking taboos. The clue Is In the name.

Boy George was the first boy to get on TV dressed up like a girl and win the hearts of a nation. Why he ever felt the need to give himself up to the Americans like that God knows, but he's pretty pissed off about it now.

The vengeance the Americans seemed to place on him, attempting to put him down for 20 years for possession of drugs, and, failing that (due to inconsistencies in evidence), parading him round the streets of Manhattan on five days community service for 'wasting police time' certainly seemed like kicking a drag when he was down.

That's apparently after nine hours being yelled at in a cell by the cops with vulgar insults. No wonder he got more-than-a-bit of a hump on when push came to shovel, and the press showed off all their most unattractive colours, and irrepressible appetite for crap gags.

Being hounded by a press you despise, who you are certain just don't 'get' you, in a city you would rather see the back of can not be a particularly charming prospect, and this documentary, that filmed George in the four weeks leading up to the sentence, showed the anxiety growing up around it.

Of course, in the end, events turned out to be worse than even BG could have anticipated, instead of the secluded park he was hoping for, he got parked right in the middle of the sanitation area to clean on one occasion, like a caged animal, while the paparazzi were served up just what they were after.

Like an animal might, surrounded by gannets, George did turn aggressive on a couple of occasions, but could only keep up the hostilities for long.

By the last day, not only was his parole officer singing his praises but so was the media circus who had spent the last week on his tail. He got into it so much, everyone ended up shaking his hand, including the reporter he earlier threatened to decapitate with his shovel.

These days the public only herald celebrities who start out from the street, and only relish the stars when they are being dragged through the gutter. But in the end, it is because Boy George is not a throw away celebrity, but a character with real wit and real gall, that he will survive the whole ordeal.

Letting anyone compromise that was what landed him in all that rubbish in the first place.

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