I have a confession. I was once a poor, hair-glued, eyelined club kid, hallucinating my way around Tallahassee in search of some breakbeat heaven -- a well-lit nightmare (er, club) full of miscreants with a like-minded propensity for ecstacy. And while I found it (ecstacy, that is), it never bore the significance of the halcyon Hacienda heydays of early '80s Britain. I know this, because I studied it religiously. In lieu of Vivienne Westwood, I found the girl's department at Ross.
Funny, then, that my personal hero Boy George (or, sir O'Dowd) has scripted a musical in reverence to the period that brought him to his point of superstardom (ahem) today.
"Taboo," a Broadway take on the heroined exploits of George and his posse (most notably, the ever-trashy Leigh Bowery), hits New York next month, and he's doing a live-action web conference to promote it. I could actually, sort of, talk to Boy George. Omigod. If Rosie O'Donnell would shut up.
Rosie's co-opted George's story for its American debut, dropping some $6 mil for a stab at production duties. Like a typical lesbian, she has to be in control.
"I am just the lucky person who gets to bring it here," she says. Blech.
For those wondering what this has to do with Orlando, consider this: The only other option for B-List exploitation this week was a veterinary convention. And while they may have the latest advancements in Ketamine technology, I need to be able to feel my fingers to type.
And so it is that George and Rosie are on my computer screen in a virtual press-conference mode, anxiously awaiting my flippant query, while George tries to look serious in full club-kid garb. Despite the fact that I've crafted the perfect question regarding the reactions of those still alive to George's musical glamorization of drug-addled decline, I am sitting here, electronically impotent, listening to questions about Rosie.
Rosie, Rosie, Rosie.
"Well, it didn't have to be American-ized at all, but I felt it did need a new play," she humbles herself. "With respect to the playwright in London who did the job so good -- I saw the show six or seven times, every time it got a standing ovation. I just felt on Broadway, I would be comfortable with somebody of the weight of Charles Busch would be able to take the real story."
Playwright Charles Busch then set himself to the task of making verse-verse-chorus about George's cake-faced descent into glamour and drugs -- a descent that would end with George's best friend overdosing at the Culture Club. It's like "Rent," but without the poverty.
And does the press reaction mean anything to George?
"You can't worry about it," he worries about it. "When I was very young, I used to think that myself and the press kind of worked together Ã? hahahaha! I thought, y'know, they're doing their job and I'm doing mine, and it was all sort of naive. Then you realize the minute something goes wrong that they're attacking you. But I've got friends who love me, and my mom who loves me. Who cares what they think?"
"I think this show really is critic proof," she layers her straitjackets. "I welcome them, and we have every critic invited, but I'll tell you right now, that regardless of the reviews, I guarantee this show will be a big hit."
Back to George: "It was very funny. One review that was very interesting said that -- because, y'know back in the day, I was sort of nonsexual, kind of this cuddly toy." He never looked that cuddly. "And there was a review of me and I've got this corset on, and I've got breasts and I'm coming out of a toilet, having had sex with somebody. It said, 'Oh, Boy George is no longer the sexually threatening character he was in the '80s. I thought, 'What happened?'"
Will corsets and breasts fly on Broadway?
"I think it really depends on what you call alternative. I just feel that, what I've learned in my life, is that the people who are the most disenfranchised, the minorities, are the most prejudiced. We often don't learn from our own suffering. That's always been my thing: not about being gay or straight -- everyone has a story, everyone suffers. There's a great saying: 'Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you.'"
It's done this. Not that impressive, really.
"It's about being embracing and saying, 'Don't be scared, it's only a wig!'
By now the glibness is getting to me. I decide to name-drop a line to new friend, gossip guru, Michael Musto. Surely he'll have some dirt.
"As for `Rosie's` charm or lack thereof: Is she an absolute doll? No, but she's bringing a gay musical to Broadway and there's a big billboard for it in Times Square with Boy George in full freak makeup as Leigh Bowery, standing by a urinal! You gotta love it!" Or so says Musto. Ugh.
Upon my return to the web-ference, George is back and dripping with both makeup and personal revelation, which is always a good combination.
"Some people kick and scream to get loved, some people comply and conform to get loved. But everybody, essentially, wants people to like them and wants to be included in the party, whatever that party may be."
Am I invited?
"It's about people who felt, 'I don't really fit in,' and they were made not to fit in. And the other people who probably didn't feel very good about themselves either. And it's the triumph of that."
Yes but, am I invited?
"The trick is to stop judging people by what they wear, or the perceived notion of what it is to be homosexual, fat, black, female, Jewish, male. It's overcoming all of the prejudices. Which, y'know, is a long shot, but anything you can do for that is a good thing."
I'm not invited. Pass the hair-glue.