In 1984, Boy George was a true sensation: With a face slashed with mascara, neon eyeshadow, and somehow even brighter lipstick, he brought gender fluidity to MTV and the Billboard charts a decade before the term even existed. As the leader of Culture Club, he essayed universal yearning and pop perfection with “Karma Chameleon” and “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” Nearly 20 years after they disbanded, the group is back with their new album, Life, which brings messages of love and a warning about resting bitch face.
What did you want to accomplish with this album?
New music! That was the bottom line. I didn’t want to be out there doing nostalgia. I mean, nostalgia is a beautiful thing; it’s given us all so much. But as a band, if you’re not creating, you just kind of feel redundant. I feel like I have very much to say. Artistically, I get my pleasure from writing and reporting.
Who do you like in pop acts now?
I am deeply shallow when it comes to my pop music. I like my artists to be interesting, quirky. You look at someone and you think, “Do I believe you were born to do this, or are you just a complete poseur?”
With the new album, you’re advocating talking about the things you love instead of the things you hate. What are the three things that you love most right now?
I love that I’m able to get up every day and pursue a creative existence. I love the fact that there’s an audience out there that gives a shit. And I love the fact that the Internet is a wonderful way that you can just communicate with everybody, everywhere.
What was the inspiration for the song “Resting Bitch Face”?
Well, you can have resting bitch face, and you could also have resting butch face. There are two options. [Laughs.] It’s really just about how we want to control other people in relationships. In my life, I’ve been one of those people who’s tried to change other people. The things that attract us to other people, we try to kind of destroy once we get to that person. Sometimes it’s about accepting people as they are, letting people express themselves.
The song “Let Somebody Love You” — have you had difficulty doing that, or is it about people you loved who couldn’t do that?
I still have difficulty doing that, because it’s hard to define what love is. To me, that’s the thing about love and God — the power of those things is the unknowingness. Somebody can tell you they love you, but you don’t really know that they do. You have to have a lot of faith. A lot of my love songs are about the fact that to love is to risk getting hurt. But you still have to do it, because you never know what somebody might bring to your life.
So, are you in love right now, or are you looking?
I’m always in love!