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Boy George on music management and masculinity: ‘A real man’s walked in heels’

Boy George on music management and masculinity: ‘A real man’s walked in heels’

Boy George | Photo: Provided

Boy George is best-known as the frontman of Culture Club, the band that of course skyrocketed to fame with 1982 single Do You Really Want To Hurt Me and went on to sell 150 million records worldwide.

They’re still going strong today, releasing new album Life earlier this year and touring the world to support it.

However, Karma Chameleon singer George has also developed a couple of a side hustles; not least as a mentor on The Voice UK [below] and The Voice Australia in recent years, but also as a manager of up and coming music acts.

George on The Voice UK | Photo: BBC

‘Be theatrical but also humble’

This year, he’s been lending his expertise to handsome three-piece 80s-indebted rock outfit We Are Brando [pictured below], comprised of brothers Sam and Joe Lewis and their friend Luke Begley.

Here, The Boy talks We Are Brando’s new song Trains (including its video’s gender play, in which a guy appears to pose as a female sex worker – but your interpretation might be very different to mine!) and his advice to today’s crop of LGBTI pop stars on longevity. Namely: ‘Be theatrical but also humble…’

How did you discover We Ae Brando and why did you decide to work with them?

I stole them from Philip Sallon [the club promoter and New Romantic figure who George met on his first visit to a gay club] who was briefly managing them. A pop coup d’état. Before Philip they were managed by Lembit Öpik. I just love their attitude and talent.

We Are Brando | Photo: Provided

You cowrote We Are Brando’s song Trains. What is it about?

It’s about escaping. Freedom.

‘There are many ways for a boy to be a man, last night you cried for someone you don’t know’ – what does this lyric mean to you?

People are refusing to accept labels and I believe there are many, many ways to be a man. I used to say ‘a real man has walked in heels.’

How open to interpretation do you feel the sexuality, gender identity and profession of the main character profiled in the music video is?

As open as the viewer wants it to be. It pays homage to Small Town Boy. Shamefully 80s but the ‘Living Dolls’ are very now. They look like reality TV stars.

What is your view on the effect of toxic masculinity in the LGBTI community?

Avoid toxic things and people. It’s just fear.

Boy George in the artwork for solo album This Is What I Do | Photo: Very Me Records

As a music manager, what would your advice be to the likes of Troye Sivan and Sam Smith about longevity in the business?

I think losing one’s sense of humor is the biggest threat. Also, surrounding yourself with honest, sound people is key. Be theatrical but also humble.

Does homophobia in the music industry still exist?

Let’s call it what it really is. Fear. Fear will always exist. Act how you want the world to be. Be the mirror you want to look into. Listen to Dandipani!

Boy George will perform as his alter ego The Twin at London’s The Scala alongside We Are Brando on Tuesday 8 January. For more information head to boygeorgeuk.com or eventbrite.co.uk.