❚ BOY GEORGE WAS ONCE TOP OF THE POPS. He was, as they say, big in the 80s, when his band Culture Club topped the UK singles chart twice and the albums chart once. He then squandered the next 20 years of his life. Now at age 52 he says he has shed six stone (38kg) in weight and decided to resume being a pop singer again. Today The Sunday Times Magazine publishes an interview with him in which the only real topic of interest remains his refusal to express remorse for his past misdeeds. Yet the reasons why still appear to escape him…
“ … After well-documented cocaine and heroin addictions in the 1980s, [George’s] drug problems resurfaced in the noughties. In early 2009 he went to prison to serve four months of a 15-month custodial sentence, for the assault and false imprisonment of a Norwegian male escort. He was accused of shackling the 28-year-old man, Audun Carlsen, to a wall and lashing him with a chain in a drug-fuelled frenzy. There was another accomplice who still hasn’t been identified.
George has never spoken publicly about the incident. “No,” he smiles calmly, “and I’m never going to.”
Why not? “Because it doesn’t benefit anybody. I went to prison, due process was had and that’s the end of it. It’s not part of my life, it’s in the past and I don’t even think about it. It’s almost like it didn’t happen.”
That hasn’t stopped everyone else having their say. The judge sentencing him described the “wholly gratuitous violence” that George inflicted on his victim. In 2011, Carlsen himself gave an interview to The Times in which he described the attack in graphic detail. He said he had first met George through a gay dating website, that the singer had asked him to pose for nude photographs, but then accused Carlsen of stealing the pictures. On the night of the attack, he said, George and a friend had beaten him up, dragged him across the floor and handcuffed him. The friend left, but George came back into the room with a metal chain and started hitting him – it was a purely violent attack, Carlsen said, nothing sexual. Eventually he managed to escape and ran into the street, where he was found in his underwear, bloodied and screaming.
It’s hard to reconcile the brutality of that description with the carefully composed man sitting opposite me today, but without George’s version of events, it’s all we have to go on. Does he feel the need to set the record straight?
“It’s not part of my life, it’s in the past
and I don’t even think about it.
It’s almost like it didn’t happen.”
“No, no. Who for? For titillation? I don’t need to, I’ve made peace with myself, which is the most powerful thing I’ve ever done. It wouldn’t be dignified for me to talk about it now. It wouldn’t help anyone. It would probably hurt him and I’m not prepared to do that. I’m very proud of myself for not talking about it.” He says all this with zen-like control.
One of the problems with not talking about it though, I venture, is that people assume he has no remorse.
“Um… surely that’s something I have to…” he catches himself. “That’s such an attempt to get me to talk about it!” he squeals. “Nice try! All I can really say about all of that period of my life… when I was younger if you’d have said to me ‘Do you regret anything?’ – and I’m not specifically talking about that incident – if you’d said to me 10, 20 years ago, I’d have absolutely said, ‘No, I don’t regret anything’. I would have been so arrogant about it, but as an older man I have so many regrets, and having regrets has allowed me to have boundaries with myself. It’s allowed me to say, ‘This isn’t acceptable, this isn’t acceptable’, and to know myself much more…” / Continued online
Extract © Krissi Murison (The Sunday Times Magazine, October 20, 2013)
❏ All of which suggests no change since 2010 and George’s first cosy breakfast TV chat after being released from jail. No mention of remorse, just an additional layer of psychobabble.