DETAILS: You've done a few eighties package tours with musicians like Howard Jones and Paul Young. Are those fun?
Boy George: The last one I did, I said, "I'm never doing this again. Ever." Because I sang "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen" and some other songs, and people moaned. They wanted to hear the hits. Oh, fuck off. There's more to me than that. And being a DJ has helped me to stay away from nostalgia.
DETAILS: You DJ a lot these days. What's your strength?
Boy George: I'm a selfish queen. I play what I like and hope you like it too. I played a club in Miami, and it was mostly white girls with Chihuahuas in their Gucci handbags, asking, "When are you going to play Avicii?" I'm not. I don't want people to have a bad night out, but if you like bad music, it's not my problem.
DETAILS: You recently spent time writing new songs with the members of Culture Club, with whom you famously fought. Do you think things will stay peaceful long enough to finish an entire album?
Boy George: Absolutely. I spent the whole of the eighties creating drama and making things difficult for myself. And I've done a bit of that since then, too, obviously. But I'm not interested in arguing with anybody these days. Two years ago, the four of us met, and I thought, "None of you have changed." They were expecting me to return to form—"He's going to hit us any minute, he's going to throw a vase at me"—but I didn't. It was hard to focus, so I made a solo record instead.
DETAILS: On that album, This Is What I Do, you sing in a much lower register. Where's the falsetto?
Boy George: It's gone. I'm 52—I can't be the same as when I was 20. So I'm rebuilding my career. A lot of people have never fucking heard of me. Or they say, "Yeah, but you're not that Boy George." People say that to me all the time.
DETAILS: Do you ever miss being young?
Boy George: I absolutely freaked out when I turned 50. "I'm 50? I'm fucking 50?!" It was always my plan to get sane at 40. I thought, "When you're 40, you can't be an idiot anymore." It took seven more years, but I did get sober at 47. I don't know how I got here, really. I knew there was a route to the top of the mountain, and I decided to take the most difficult one.
DETAILS: So at 25, you said, "I have 15 years to be nuts"?
Boy George: I was a huge pop star all over the world, I couldn't leave my house. Kinda like Justin—what's his name? You know, the little kid.
DETAILS: Justin Bieber.
Boy George: Bieber. I feel so much compassion for him. He's a kid. Who's looking out for him? Who's helping him, you know?
DETAILS: Would you have felt compassion for Bieber when you were younger?
Boy George: Probably not. I was quite hard-nosed. "Hang 'em! String 'em up!" I thought I knew everything. But my bitchiness was good-humored—for the most part. I said some things I wish I hadn't, just being honest, but I don' t feel like that now. I'm very forgiving. Because people have forgiven me.
DETAILS: Are you referring to the years you spent as a drug addict?
Boy George: I can say that being a junkie is the one thing I did really badly. I've been successful at lots of things, I've sold millions of records, but as a drug addict, I failed every time. It wasn't a huge part of my life—I haven't always done drugs, let's make that clear—but it was a formidable part of my life.
DETAILS: Looking back, who made the best records in the eighties?
Boy George: I loved Siouxsie and the Banshees when I was a punk, and they had a great halcyon period in the eighties. But all the eighties kids were fans of the seventies: David Bowie, Roxy Music, Cockney Rebel, Marc Bolan. The seventies was a bonkers decade! You'd turn on the TV and see some old lady playing the piano, then the Sex Pistols, then Cliff Richard. The other great thing about the seventies was that your parents hated the music you liked.
DETAILS: Do you think pop stars today are as interesting as the ones you idolized?
Boy George: No. Look at Lady Gaga. She has a marvelous look and a commitment to arriving at TV shows on a horse or in an egg. All that stuff is hard work—I've done it. But her music is the same as any EDM artist. Her message would've been totally different in the seventies. It wouldn't have been "Let's dance," it would've been "Let's set fire to a tree!" People have their eyes on the fur coat. They don't want to change the world, like we did.
DETAILS: In what way did you change the world?
Boy George: The first time I popped up on MTV in someone's home in Nebraska, it was like, "What the fuck is that, Gene?" [Laughs] In a way, that's exactly what I felt when I saw Bowie. People come up to me all the time and say "Thank you."
DETAILS: Why are they thanking you?
Boy George: For being myself, and allowing them to be themselves. I arrived in Chile, thinking, "Who's gonna know who I am here?" And I was stampeded by drag queens at the airport. I remember going to Argentina, and this gorgeous tranny, who'd been at the airport all night, said to me, "Thank you."
DETAILS: Did musicians in the seventies and eighties make it easier for kids today who are gay?
Boy George: People always say, "It's so accepted now, to be gay." Really? Have you been out in the streets recently in a pair of high heels? On TV, everyone's so tolerant, but look around the world: Africa, Italy, France, Russia. I'm so bored of this obsession with gayness. God almighty, I've been going to Russia for years. There are a lot of gays in Russia. I've slept with a lot of them! Get over it. Straight people need to step in, and tell their friends to stop panicking. I'm going to carry on being gay, Sochi or no Sochi.
DETAILS: And yet in the eighties you were coy about your sexuality. You'd been out to your family since you were 15, but not to the world.
Boy George: I thought, "Maybe it's not a good idea to be so gay." People started saying, "Could you wear a bit less makeup?" I reined it in, much to my own horror. But I don't think I was very convincing! [Laughs] You know the old cliché: "Oh, I'm bisexual: I like boys and boys."
DETAILS: You wrote in your memoir that you weren't sure if people were born gay. What do you think now?
Boy George: I definitely think we're born gay. Human beings are sexual, and we try to simplify it, but it's so complex: This one likes sniffing shoes, that one is "straight"—but likes women with penises. [Laughs] I don't go around stressing about straight people. I love them! It takes two of them to make one of me. So why are they wondering what I do in bed? If you knew, you'd think it's boring! My gayness takes up only about two hours a month, and that might be pushing it.