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My Encounter with Boy George

My Encounter with Boy George
Melanie Kaye

Some people dream about meeting the President of the United States (although, with our current one, I can’t imagine why), while others dream of a handshake with the supermodel du jour. Me, well, I’ve always dreamed of meeting… Boy George! Strange, you might say, but not to me. I’ve met many famous people in my time, from Celine Dion to Michael Jackson, Joe Lieberman to Tony Bennett. But no one is as exciting to me as Boy George.

Okay, here is some background: It all started back in 1983. I was nine years old and living in Montreal, Canada. I had contracted a serious case of Karma Chameleon fever, which was sweeping the world at the time. Boy GeorgeMy father, who works in the music industry, got us tickets for the Culture Club concert at the Montreal Forum, on the condition that my sisters (reluctantly) take me. They agreed, and off I went to my very first concert. My sisters, not overly enthused about having to take their little sister to a concert, decided to have fun with it. They dressed me like Boy George. Ribbons were weaved into my then-short hair to make long braids. Baggy orange pants with patches were thrust upon me. My white Keds were suddenly painted two hues of green. I was made up to look like Boy. A Boy George-esque hat was the finishing touch. Off we went to the show!

The concert was incredible. I never fully recovered. I was officially a Boy George O’Dowd fan for life. While the world lost interest in Boy George, my passion for him continued to grow. Not in a scary, stalker sense, but in a “first crush” way. When he left Culture Club and joined the Hare Krishnas, I was there. When he kicked heroin and embarked on a DJ career, I was there. When he reunited with Culture Club and toured the United States in 1998, I gathered all my gay friends, and we were there. The reunion tour was amazing, I was happy.

I went to London last summer. My sister lives there and told me that Boy George had recently written a musical called “Taboo”. The show was selling out, and she suggested that I purchase tickets months in advance. I got online, and bought two tickets (one for moi, the other for my now-ex-husband). My ex, God bless him, is as straight as they come and has zero interest in Boy George, but humored me and agreed to come along. It is important to note that Boy George was not appearing in the play, but rather wrote it.

I arrived in London on July 6, 2002. My tickets were for July 8. About two hours prior to the show, I went to the box office to get my tickets. I walked up to will call and, to my surprise, there was a sign that read: “This week only: Boy George will be playing the role of Leigh Bowery.” Wow. I had never been so excited about anything in my entire life. My seats were in row D, a mere ten feet away from where the Boy himself would be standing.

I sat in the theatre with nervous anticipation, anxious and tingly with visions of the Boy dancing through my head. The show started and was amazing. A few songs in, Boy George himself appeared. A group of American girls behind me kept asking of each other “Is that him? Is that Boy George?” with every new character that appeared. When he finally made his entrance, they had no idea that it was him. Boy George, you see, has aged. He is fatter and bald, but as beautiful as ever. He was dressed in a spectacular green dress made of lime-hued peacock feathers. Boy George is every bit the diva.

As the show concluded and I exited the theatre, I ran into two middle-aged women. They were standing outside with cameras. I asked them what they were doing, and they replied that they were waiting for Boy George. Unlike America’s strict fire codes, the New Venue Theatre only had one exit – the front door. The ladies told me that if I waited long enough, the Boy would emerge. They also said that they had been waiting to meet Boy George all week and that he would walk out of the theatre and run past them every night, denying requests for photos and autographs. I explained to them that Boy would stop for me. They laughed.

It was a cold, London night and getting late. My ex, humoring me again, said that we could wait. And wait. And wait. The entire cast had come and gone. It was getting colder. It was now 12:30 am, and the tube had closed for the night. It would be an expensive cab ride back to the hotel.

Finally, a vision in blue make-up, Boy George appeared. He looked right at me. I said “Boy George, I love you and came all the way from San Francisco just to see you.” He replied “Darling, you’re adorable, but you’re such a liar!” We bonded. I asked him if I could have my picture taken with him. He said “Of course, darling. How do I look?” My night, trip and life were now complete. He signed my “Taboo” program, we chatted a bit, he gave me a hug and kiss, and I floated back to the hotel on cloud 9.

Incidentally, he ignored any other requests for photos and autographs. Those two women went home empty-handed again. Boy George and I – we connected. Of all the pictures that I took with that role of film, the only one that came out was the one with Boy George. Simply put, it was meant to be. I’m returning to London in March, and contemplating seeing “Taboo” again. Boy George is now permanently playing the role of Leigh Bowery. But part of me wants to remember that perfect night exactly as it was – magical!

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