Boy George (born George Alan O’Dowd) is a singer and songwriter from England with a net worth of $50 million. George’s songs “Karma Chameleon” and “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” are among the most popular in recent memory.
Boy George is also known for his androgynous public appearance. Boy George is a prominent fashion designer and author in addition to his singing career.
George Alan O’Dowd was born in Kent, England, on June 14, 1961. George was raised in a Catholic, working-class family with five siblings and had to contend with a violent, abusive father.
In his adolescence, O’Dowd was fascinated by the burgeoning New Romantic movement in the United Kingdom. He eventually relocated to London, where he was heavily influenced by David Bowie, Marc Bolan, and Patti Smith, among others.
Sexuality and personal life
When George was a member of Culture Club, his androgynous appearance drew a lot of attention, and there was discussion about his sexuality. “Do you prefer men or women?” Joan Rivers asked George in an interview on her show in 1983, and George replied, “Oh both.”
When Barbara Walters confronted George about his sexual orientation in 1985, he stated he was bisexual and had a number of partners and boyfriends in the past. He famously told an interviewer that he would rather have “a nice cup of tea” than have sex.
George revealed that he was gay, not bisexual, in his 1995 autobiography Take It Like a Man, and that he had secret relationships with punk rock vocalist Kirk Brandon and Culture Club drummer Jon Moss. He claimed that many of the Culture Club songs he wrote were about his relationship with Moss.
Boy George discussed his first realization that he was gay, when he told his parents, and why guys fell in love with each other as well as women in the 2008 documentary Living with Boy George.
Boy George and Annie Lennox were featured on the covers of Smash Hits magazine in December 1983 with the headline “Which one is the boy?” and Newsweek magazine in January 1984 as two of the most androgynous stars in music.
George embraced a macrobiotic diet, which he had been attempting to follow since 1988, at the same time as he was growing his career as a DJ in the late 1990s.
He co-wrote the Karma Cookbook with Dragana Brown, a private macrobiotic cook and teacher whom George met in 1986, and published it in 2001. After years of experimenting with the cuisine, George became a raw vegan in 2014.
In 2018, George was found to be connected to executed Irish revolutionary Thomas Bryan, a member of the “Forgotten Ten,” on an episode of the BBC television genealogy programme Who Do You Think You Are?
Boy George has credited his newfound spiritual strength to stay sober to his Nichiren Buddhism practice and singing Nam Myh Renge Ky since 2012.
Addiction to drugs and legal issues
George had been struggling with heroin addiction for several years by the late 1980s. While under the influence, he attempted to perform concerts. Other drug addictions soon followed.
George’s younger brother David, determined to save his brother’s life, appeared on UK national television and detailed George’s drug use, something George had been publicly denying at the time. Boy George was arrested in 1986 as part of “Operation Culture” for heroin possession.
Michael Rudetsky, the keyboardist who co-wrote “Sexuality” on Culture Club’s From Luxury to Heartache album, died of a heroin overdose in George’s London house in 1986. Mark Vaultier, another friend of George’s, died after overdosing on methadone and Valium at a party.
Another buddy, Mark Golding, died of an overdose in December 1986, with Scotland Yard police claiming there was no evidence of foul play. During this time, George made the decision to seek treatment for his addiction.
Kirk Brandon sued George for libel in 1995, alleging that George mentioned their love affair in his autobiography, Take It Like a Man.
Brandon was sentenced to pay £200,000 in costs to Virgin Records, EMI Virgin Music, and the book publisher after George won the court case. Boy George had to pay almost £20,000 in court fees when Brandon declared himself bankrupt.
George was arrested in Manhattan on October 7, 2005, on charges of cocaine possession and falsely reporting a burglary. The narcotics were not George’s, he claimed.
The cocaine possession charge was withdrawn in court on February 1, 2006, and George pled guilty to fraudulently reporting a burglary. He received a five-day community service sentence, a $1,000 fine, and was required to participate in a drug recovery program.
After Boy George failed to appear in court for a hearing on why he sought to reduce his sentence for the false burglary report, a Manhattan judge issued a warrant for his arrest on June 17, 2006.
The court was notified by George’s attorney that he had urged George not to attend the hearing. George reported to the New York City Department of Sanitation for his court-ordered community service on August 14, 2006. Because of the widespread media attention, he was allowed to complete his community service on the premises of the Sanitation Department.