More than two years after the reformation of his band, Boy George is alive and well — and hitting the dance club as much as the Culture Club.
The flamboyant singer, who led the cross-dressing and gender-blending pop wave of the early '80s, is still happy fronting the group with which he had so many hits. But he's also spending much of his creative time these days as a club DJ, working the turntables and concocting new dance floor creations in Great Britain, Miami, and New York City.
"I think it's just another door I was able to go through," says the former George O'Dowd, 39. "One of the hardest things to do is to survive your past; when you've been in the business a long time, people tend to categorize you in a kind of box — 'You were around in the '80s, therefore you have no cultural or social relevance now.' You have to find these little doors or windows you can sneak back into.
"DJing is one of those. In the U.K., there are young kids who know me more as a DJ than they do as a musician, whereas in America, people know me more for what I did in the '80s."
George's dance mixes will be featured on the Feb. 20 release Essential Mix, which is part of BBC disc jockey Pete Tong's Essential series. The 18 tracks will include his remake of "The Girl From Ipanema," with Boogie Macs, as well as "See Through," a new Culture Club track that was recorded under the name Cultural Diversion.
The group is also adding more technology in concert — mostly programmed beats and samples — even to its biggest hits, and it may put out an EP next year to demonstrate its new direction.
George, who's also considering another solo album, says the other members of Culture Club — guitarist Roy Hay, bassist Mikey Craig, and drummer Jon Moss — are buying into the new musical shift but not without some reservations.
"There's no revolution without suffering," George says. "There's a little bit of resistance here and there, but Culture Club in some respects has been quite a lazy band in terms of challenging ourselves in what we do. If I have to push that in order to grow, that's a good thing. I don't want to run a dictatorship, but at the same time I don't want us to wallow too much."