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Do you really want to out me?: The trial of Kirk Brandon vs. Boy George

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The golden rule: Never sue anyone unless you know you are going to win.

Eighties pop star Kirk Brandon should have considered this when he sued Boy George (aka George O’Dowd) for “malicious falsehood over allegations of homosexuality” contained in the singer’s autobiography Take It Like A Man and his song “Unfinished Business.”
 

 
Brandon is known as the frontman of band Theater of Hate, who had several hit singles in the 1980s most notably “Do You Believe in the Westworld?” Boy George is Boy George, and as everyone knows has achieved global success as a solo artist, DJ and with the band Culture Club notching up a string of number one records. Back in 1980, Brandon and George were members of the Blitz Kids—the young trendsetting New Romantics who were creating a club scene and were soon to dominate the pop charts.

In 1997, Brandon was incensed that George had “outed” him by writing about the couple’s “alleged homosexual relationship in the early 1980s.” (What’s wrong, I wonder, with just saying “relationship”?) Brandon said the “gay allegations” had damaged his career as a musician, claiming he “was terrified of being ridiculed as `some blond peroxided poof’.” A damning quote that tells you all you need to know about Mr. Brandon.
 
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The Blitz Kids: Kirk and George, 1980.
 
By 1997, Brandon was married and had a child, his wife Christina said, “It’s every woman’s worst nightmare to be told their partner is gay”.

Christina, 28, first read about the alleged affair in the gender-bender’s autobiography, Take It Like A Man, which was published in July, 1995.

And as she skimmed through the book in a bookshop her world fell apart.

“We had only been married a year and I just couldn’t believe what I was reading,” she says. “I knew that Kirk had been friendly with Boy George. I loved hearing about their time together. But, all of a sudden, I was reading about this intimate, sexual relationship they were meant to have had. I felt confused. Betrayed and humiliated. Tears started rolling down my cheeks. Then I felt angry.

“I rushed home to confront Kirk. I wanted the truth. Why he had lied to me? This could so easily have destroyed our marriage.

“But I know Kirk really well and I believe him when he says it’s not true.”

Yet, Brandon’s litigation was to prove otherwise.
 
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Brandon and George in the early 1980s.
 
When the case came to trial in April 1997, bucking the trusim that the man who is his own attorney has a fool for a client, Brandon represented himself. He told the court how he had helped Boy George from his first band and that they were good friends, adding:

He would sometimes stay at the singer’s squats—but was away on tour when he is alleged to have had the affair.

Mr Brandon said: “[Boy George’s] career took off and his mind was otherwise occupied. He was totally ambiguous and never confirmed or denied any sexual preference, terrified of rejection and the obscurity which would follow.

“Unbeknown to me, in the midst of his wealth, his obsession for me turned into something bitter, some might call it evil, a grudge. Somewhere in his mind he believed I had dumped him. Perhaps somewhere in his drug problems or whatever, his hatred focused on me. Some years later became a cleverly calculated possibility. As [George] stated himself, his book would be his revenge. He wrote his book and wrote of the relationship he really imagined he had had.”

Mr Brandon said he also believed that the attempt to ‘out’ him which would gain publicity for the book and song was part of a ‘sickening and totally reprehensible strategy.’

 
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Brandon’s opening gambit made him sound as if he was the man obsessed with Boy George, and bitter at his former lover’s success. He then began to interrogate Boy George asking him if he thought outing people in the public arena was a good idea? A question that implied Brandon himself had been in the closet.

“I don’t think you should be ashamed of what you are,” O’Dowd replied. “I don’t think you should wilfully drag people out of their closets, but our relationship was public knowledge. It was not something you denied at the time, You denied it later on.”

He told Brandon he was being “homophobic” in bringing the court action. “I said in my book that you were very talented and I loved you,” O’Dowd said. “Where is the damage in that? I am much more brutal about myself in the book about myself than anybody else.”

Avoiding the accusation of “homophobia,” Brandon changed tact accusing George of having “a kind of vendetta” against him:

“Why have you been obsessed with me all your adult life?”

O’Dowd: I am not obsessed with you.

Brandon: You were obsessed and you probably still are. Have you ever thought of leaving me alone?

O’Dowd: I would not say I am obsessed. I would say the obsession would be more on your part if you thought I was insane, why take this action? Why not just shrug and say: ‘He’s mad?’

Brandon: I would say you are a professional liar.

 
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The questioning shifted to the lyrics of Boy George’s song “Unfinished Business” from the album Cheapness and Beauty that George admitted was about Brandon.

He said the lyrics the lyrics included the line “You lie” and “You walk like a jack but are more of a queen”.

He added: “It says that [Brandon] has lied about our relationship and continues to do so. Songs are a way of exorcising feelings.”

Brandon: You get pleasure out of writing vindictive songs.

O’Dowd: Kirk, you were in a band called Theatre of Hate. You weren’t called the Blushing Flowers.

Brandon: Theatre of Hate was an art-house name.

 
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The questioning sounded like the petty tiff of two former lovers rather than a formal cross examination. Any points Brandon thought he had scored were undermined by the appearance of one of Brandon’s former lovers Naimi Ashcroft who suggested the two men had been sexually intimate.

She said that she and Brandon had to hide from O’Dowd in nightclubs: “He did say George was upset and was looking to beat me up.”

Brandon told her: “You are here to fit Mr O’Dowd’s jigsaw. Can’t you just simply forget about me and get on with your own life?”

Every piece of a jigsaw has its own place and the picture the trial revealed was not one that Brandon particularly wanted to see.
 
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Brandon admitted sharing a bed with George in a squat in central London in 1980 but denied any sexual activity.

George recalled: “I said, ‘I don’t have a spare bed,’ and he said: ‘I will be safe won’t I?’” Both kept their T-shirts and underwear on as they shared the mattress.

George added: “Kirk pulled hold of me and we started kissing.

“But on the first night, it was mainly hugging, kissing and touching, very affectionate, but no sexual activity.”

George admitted that in the morning he was unsure if he would see Brandon again in such an intimate way, but he returned with a bag and stayed for several days at the squat. George admitted he was very inexperienced at the time.

“Kirk never said he thought of me as a woman, but outside of the bed I did a very good job of looking feminine,” added george, “We slept together more than 100 times.”

George went on: “We were very close. Kirk was the great love of my life at that time. We were inseparable, holding hands in public and I was walking around in high heel shoes.”

Eventually the relationship finished and Brandon moved out claiming he needed “space.” George described how he “smashed up” his room and “cried for a while and walked in the rain.”

The trial lasted seven days at the High Court in London, with Judge Douglas Brown ruling in favor of Boy George, describing him as “an impressive witness.” As he gave his verdict, Kirk Brandon sat staring straight ahead as the Judge said:

“It’s difficult to believe Mr Brandon did not have a physical relationship with Mr O’Dowd.

“Mr Brandon agrees he knew Mr O’Dowd was a homosexual who was sexually interested in him, but went and stayed in his bed without protest, and without asking whether there was an alternative place to sleep.”

The judge added he did not believe Brandon:

“I am satisfied he has not been truthful about their physical relationship.”

Brandon was ordered to pay an estimated £250,000 in costs, but said he was unable to do so as he was bankrupt. Outside the High Court, he told reporters he had no regrets in taking Boy George to court:

“It was a matter of honour.”

The trail wasn’t about “honour” it was about Brandon’s misplaced personal sense of pride and vanity. His actions made him look foolish, petty, and dishonest. Boy George was vindicated, and left the court telling reporters that the verdict was “a great, great day for gay rights.”

A gallery of photographs of Boy George and Kirk Brandon in the early 1980s and clippings about the trial from 1997 can be found here.

A now bearded Boy George and Culture Club tour the USA this November details here. Theatre of Hate tour the UK this December details here.
 

 
H/T The Blitz Kids.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Boy George and Jerry Falwell talk androgyny on ‘Face the Nation,’ 1984


 
In the early ‘80s, the USA had a minor collective shitfit about blurred gender divisions. The subject emerged into the mass consciousness almost out of nowhere—all of a sudden, three mainstream movies had cross dressing as their central themes, and Michael Jackson and other androgyny-friendly musicians were experiencing huge pop chart success. Obviously, genderfuck had been a part of rock culture for a long time—it was a decade earlier that David Bowie and Lou Reed made career moves of conspicuous bisexual posturing, and then of course there were the New York Dolls—but MTV pumping Duran Duran, Haysi Fantayzee, and the Belle Stars into millions of Midwestern living rooms newly wired for cable was an altogether different level of cultural penetration.

The appearance of artists like Annie Lennox, Dee Snider and Pete Burns definitely startled a lot of normals, but the figure who, all by himself, racked up by far the high score of shat Middle-American underpants was Boy George of Culture Club. He was such a harmless and goofy figure, but 30 years ago, a lot of people found him genuinely threatening. DM’s Martin Schneider recently made a well-deserved poke at the Midwestern response to Culture Club’s Colour By Numbers tour. As I was a teenaged Clevelander at the time, I can personally vouch for the truth of that piece. A lot of “grownups” fully lost their shit about Boy George.
 

I still don’t get what the big deal was.

Of course, the national news media had to explore the issue for baffled masses in grave danger of seeing the totally artificial social construct to which they were accustomed fall slightly apart on a superficial level. Leslie Stahl, for one, explored “The Feminization of America” on Face the Nation in 1984.
 

 
I love how “the feminizing of society” is illustrated with clips of men doing laundry and caring for infants. Who, WHO I ASK YOU, will save this degenerate civilization from the horror of fathers acting like parents? But as the segment continued, I found myself astonished that the discussion was civil, adult, and not completely trivializing. Megatrends author John Naisbitt offers some perfectly sensible if perhaps simplified insights, and then JERRY FALWELL of all people is genial, respectful, and, though obviously faaaaaaaar from progressive in his views, he’s not totally insane and hateful. The way he was towards the end of his life, I honestly expected him to do some bonkers shit like blame a tornado on Yentl. Imagine a similar conversation as it would happen on Hannity, McLaughlin, or The Five today, and weep for what we’ve lost in just 30 years.
 

 
Apologies, by the way, for the huge glitch in the middle of Falwell’s comments. Not that it’s likely they were illuminating or anything, but I did try to locate an alternate video, and turned up nothing. It’s probably not that great of a loss—in part three, Falwell predictably, and in scripturally unconvincing terms, goes on to defend the American post-WWII gender status quo as God’s eternal and ineffable will, and is called out on his blatant cultural and class biases by co-panelist/actual smartest person in the room Benjamin DeMott. But the most intelligent and moving comments in the whole segment come from Boy George himself. The insights he proffers in his one-on-one interview with Stahl remain relevant today, and fully make up for my disappointment that he and Falwell weren’t on the live panel together. I generally dislike the Internet’s abuse of the adjective “epic,” but god damn, THAT would have been a valid use.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Boy Serge: Gainsbourg does his best Boy George impression
05.06.2013
09:19 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
Serge Gainsbourg
Boy George


 
Boy Serge.

Serge Gainsbourg impersonates Boy George and gives French comedian/singer Patrick Sébastien a big smooch on the lips.

Gainsbourg may be the only person on the planet who can dress up like Boy George and not lose my respect.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
We Don’t Need This Fascist Groove Thing: Boy George’s fierce ‘No Clause 28’ protest song, 1988


 
One of Boy George’s best pieces of music—well, in my book, anyway—is 1988’s seldom-heard slice of fierce, dance music protest, “No Clause 28.” I picked it up, neither knowing what it was about, nor having actually heard it, because of the amazing cover artwork by Jamie Reid depicting Boy George as Enid Blyton’s “Noddy.” It’s a pretty amazing record of its time, in more ways than one.

Clause 28 or Section 28, as it was also known, was an addition to the Local Government Act of 1988. Clause 28 stipulated that local government councils in the UK “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.”

This was the end of the Thatcher era and due to newly widespread awareness—and fear—of AIDS, then considered a gay disease, homosexuality was frowned upon in such a way that it was thought necessary to officially condemn it and protect children from it. The matter was largely a symbolic issue, but it caused many gay and lesbian groups at high schools and universities to close shop.

The night before Section 28 became law (May 24, 1988) a lesbian chained herself to the desk of BBC Six O’Clock News presenter Sue Lawley. Parliament was also invaded by lesbian activists scaling the building like rock climbers.

In many ways, Clause 28 is what saw the cohesion of Britain’s modern gay rights movement. Aside from Boy George, many big name celebrities spoke out about Clause 28, such as Ian McKellen, beloved One Foot in the Grave actress Annette Crosbie, Helen Mirren, Jane Horrocks and comics great, Alan Moore.

The Section was repealed on June 21, 2000 in Scotland, and in the rest of Great Britain in November of 2003. It’s worth noting that Prime Minister David Cameron was vocally in support of keeping the Section intact, although he thought better of this later and apologized in 2010.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Legend of Leigh Bowery

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The Legend of Leigh Bowery is a brilliant documentary about a brilliant man.

Directed by Charles Atlas, the film covers Bowery’s life and times from his suburban beginnings in Sunshine, Australia, to his fame on London’s club scene in the 1980s and his success as one of the most influential and daring fashion designers in the past thirty years.

The Legend of Leigh Bowery has incredible archive footage and excellent contributions from Michael Clark, Sue Tilley, Michael Bracewell, Richard Torry, Donald Urquhart, Damien Hirst, Boy George and Leigh’s wife, Nicola Bowery.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

Leigh Bowery interviewed by Gary Glitter from ‘Night Network’, 1989


 
Watch the rest of ‘The Legend of Leigh Bowery’, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Superb documentary on Malcolm McLaren from 1984

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This excellent documentary on Malcolm McLaren was originally shown as part of Melvyn Bragg’s South Bank Show in 1984, when McLaren was recording Fans—his seminal fusion of R&B and opera.  Apart from great access and behind-the-scenes footage, the film and boasts revealing interviews with Boy George, Adam Ant, Bow-Wow-Wow’s Annabella Lwin, Sex Pistol, Steve Jones, as well as the great man himself.

Everyone whoever came into contact with McLaren had an opinion of the kind of man he was and what he was about. Steve Jones thought him a con man; Adam Ant didn’t understand his anarchy; Boy George couldn’t fathom his lack of interest in having success, especially when he could have had it all; while Annabella Lwin pointed out how he used people to do the very things he wanted to do himself.

All of the above are true. But for McLaren, the answer was simple: “Boys will be boys,” and he saw his role was as:

“To question authority and challenge conventions, is what makes my life exciting.”

It did, Malcolm, and still does. Enjoy.
 

 
Previously on DM

Who Killed Bambi?: the Roger Ebert Sex Pistols screenplay


Scenes from the Malcolm McLaren funeral


 
More from Malcolm McLaren after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Lipstick and powder: Boy George presents a Top 10 of New Romantics

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Out of the ashes of Punk came the New Romantics, rising like a painted phoenix over London’s club scene. From clubs like Billy’s and Blitz, where Steve Strange and Rusty Egan played Bowie, the Velvets and T.Rex, and Boy George was the coat-check guy, came the New Romantics. Clubbers known as the Blitz Kids, who were made-up and beautiful, and knew imagination was more important than money when it came to having fun. 

The Blitz Kids were Steve Strange (Visage), Rusty Egan (The Rich Kids), Boy George (Culture Club), Tony Hadley, Martin Kemp, Gary Kemp, John Keeble, Steve Norman (Spandau Ballet), Tony James, James Degville (Sigue Sigue Sputnik), Siobhan Fahey (Bananarama), Marilyn, Princess Julia, Isabella Blow, Stephen Jones and Michael Clarke, and together they were the generation of New Romantics.

Last year, in the Guardian, Priya Elan talked to some of the “movers and shakers behind the scene that spawned the New Romantics.”

STEVE STRANGE, BLITZ CLUB HOST, VISAGE FRONTMAN: By 1977 I’d gotten very bored by punk. It’d become very violent. The skinheads and the National Front had moved in.

RUSTY EGAN, BLITZ DJ, VISAGE MEMBER: The punk venues got invaded by football hooligans wearing Le Coq Sportif clothes. They’d call us “poofs” because we weren’t dressed in a normal way. Hence why we formed the club. It was for those ex-punks who liked Lou Reed, Bowie and Iggy.

SS: It was about being creative, we wanted to start something that didn’t have anything to do with punk.

RE: It was a horrible time of recession. Covent Garden was isolated and badly lit. But then you’d walk into the club and it was like “Ta-da!” Everyone was drinking and taking poppers. The atmosphere was like Studio 54.

SIOBHAN FAHEY, BLITZ CLUBBER AND BANANARAMA MEMBER: We’d spend the whole week preparing our outfits for the club. We’d go and buy fabrics, customise our leather jackets, make cummerbunds, find old military things and throw them together in a mix of glam, military and strangeness. It was all DIY because we didn’t really have any money to properly eat. We lived off coffee and cigarettes, really.

RE: The song that became the anthem of the club was Heroes by Bowie. “Just for one day” you could dress up and be more than what Britain had to offer you.

 

 
Previously on DM

‘The Chemical Generation’: Boy George’s documentary on British Rave Culture


 
Part 2 of Boy George’s Top 10 plus more memories from the Blitz Kids, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘The Chemical Generation’ - Boy George’s documentary on British Rave Culture

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Will George O’Dowd still be Boy George when he hits his half-century later this year? Man George doesn’t have the same hook to it - sounding like something a porn star would use; and we can never think of him as Middle-Aged George, even though that’s closer to the truth. For the wonderfully soulful-voiced O’Dowd has been a fixture of pop culture for thirty years, and he is now as lovable a character as the Queen Mum was to London cab drivers. Add to this his back catalog of hits and a shelf-full of notable tales - from his own fair share of ups and downs as internationally successful pop star, actor, writer, ex-druggie, ex-convict and DJ - and you’ll see why Boy George is a modern pop culture hero.

In 2000, George presented The Chemical Generation a fascinating documentary examining “the Acid House, rave and club culture revolution and also the generations favourite chemical - ecstasy.” This gem was first broadcast in the UK on Channel 4, on the 27 May 2000, and it is:

...the story of British club and drug culture from the early days of acid house. The documentary includes interviews with promoters, bouncers, drug dealers and the clubbers themselves, shot in clubs and bars around London and club footage from across the country. Interviewees include (DJs) Danny Rampling, Judge Jules, Nicky Holloway, Pete Tong, Lisa Loud, Mike Pickering, Dave Haslan, along with Ken Tappenden (former Divisional Commander of Kent Police) and writer (Trainspotting) Irvine Welsh.

The background to rave in the UK goes something like this:

In 1987 four working class males, Paul Oakenfold, Danny Rampling, Nicky Holloway and Johnny Walker found themselves in clubs across Ibiza, listening to the music which was to make them legends in the dance scene and transform the face of youth subculture in Britain. Not only did they discover the musical genre of Acid House, played by legendary house DJ’s Alredo Fiorillio and Jose Padilla in clubs such as Amnesia and Pacha, they were also crucially introduced to the drug MDMA, more commonly known as ecstasy. Johnny Walker describes the experience:
“It was almost like a religious experience; a combination of taking ecstasy and going to a warm, open-air club full of beautiful people - you’re on holiday, you feel great and you’re suddenly being exposed to entirely different music to what you were used to in London. This strange mixture was completely fresh and new to us, and very inspiring”

The Chemical Generation covers their story and more, and giving an excellent history of Rave Culture, its drugs, its stars, and its music.
 

 
Bonus clip, Boy George sings ‘The Crying Game’, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Don’t want no English glitter prince’: Boy George guest stars on The A-Team

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Could this be the worst celebrity guest star appearance in television history? Methinks so. Watch the cringe-worthy trailer below. Also, take note on how Boy George delivers his line “Totally awesome, Hannibal.” It’s sheer brilliance.

You can watch the entire episode titled “Cowboy George” over at Hulu. Thank God!
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment