In 1984, Boy George wrote a letter to the NME…
“Having spent many a dull moment up in the Carnaby Street offices of your controversial (ho hum) newspaper, you are, or should be aware that my tendency to wear make-up and dangerous drag goes back further than my musical career. You were as short of gossip in those days as you are now and I was always passing through with teazers, mostly about myself. Just ask Neil Spencer how Paul Morley had to dance to get an unknown Culture Club the cover of NME. It seems in those days you really lacked the foresight as most major record companies did, to predict the success of one of London’s premier overweight drag queens.
As it stands you take no prizes for optimism but then you make a big point of preaching to the converted. And coming from the same huge capitalist organization IPC MAGAZINES LTD who are responsible for puerile magazines like Oh Boy, your editorial policies seem most hypocritical.
Pete Burns and Dead Or Alive may be getting the NME red carpet treatment at the moment but should they ever get beyond the starting point I’m sure you’ll pull out all the stops to run them back into the ground. This pathetic war between myself and Pete Burns started long before either of us hit the charts. Why Pete Burns resents me so much I have never quite understood, but let me say if Dead Or Alive took over the number one spot in every country in the world I would not feel threatened in any way.
We all try so hard to be individual yet we resent any other form of individualism it’s always the same. Look how punk rock has turned full circle on its values -now it’s just an acceptable excuse for beer boys to dye their hair and show their arses out of car windows (new moon on mundane). Only last week Frankie Goes To Hollywood threatened me with fire extinguishers at London’s Sarm Studios. OK so I did get to talk to Holly Johnson in great length but it was one hell of an introduction that was both boring and a big drag (geddit).
Bronski Beat may think my eccentricity is a product of my success but then they probably drink at the Black Cap and think that wearing gay pride badges will change the way that society thinks about homosexuality. Being a dizzy queen is about as exciting as a chapter from a Tony Parsons novel… the fact of the matter is that wearing jeans and a check shirt is hardly a social comment. It’s just a way of saying Hey I like you, please follow me home.
After reading the Smash Hits piece “may the best man win” I only regretted ever joining in with senseless bitching and backbiting which seems rife in the gender bender camp these days.
I took part in the piece thinking it would be good fun. After all Smash Hits is hardly known for its seriousness. Pete Burns’ thighs do not give me any sleepless nights and neither did hearing his record on the radio every day. So don’t consider it your duty to supply the ammunition in this bender battle because Pete Burns probably has the very same contempt for journalists as I do. He walk around long enough in strange costumes without a hit record to realize how two faced society and the music industry really is. And if you really think that Boy George is the acceptable face of eccentricity go tell it to the skinhead who wanted to break my nose in the Taj Mahal Indian Takeaway in the Edgware Road last week. Fame brings mass attention but how many thug he-men who sit down to watch Top of the Pops on Thursdays would love to stamp on our heads? I can show you there are plenty and that’s what we should be fighting, not each other.”
This letter originally appeared in the New Musical Express newspaper issue dated 26th May, 1984. It is reproduced with the greatest respect.