Wow. What can I say? The doc-drama about Boy George, Worried About The Boy, which aired last night on BBC 2, really took me back and you know what? The make-up and styling were spot on. Douglas Booth, who played the young George O’Dowd, is a beautiful boy, perfect for the part, partly down to his stunning looks and partly down to his innocence. I remember the first time I saw Culture Club on Top of the Pops singing Do You Really Want To Hurt Me? It feels weird that it was so long ago and that George was so young at the time (because now that he’s getting older, it means I am as well – poo).
I wasn’t a part of the scene, as it were, because I was actually too young and innocent (I was once, you know). I never went to the Blitz Club but I do remember the styles and the make-up, total rebellion against the darkness of the time. Maggie Thatcher was PM (ugh) and punk was beginning to give way to glam.
What many people fail to understand about Boy George, I think, is that he dresses that way anyway, not just for the band and certainly not to gain publicity. People just needed to accept him the way he was and he wasn’t going to change for anyone. I admire that. Most people don’t have the guts to carry themselves through the pressure and be who they are. If others don’t like it, tough. It does take a thick skin not to be upset by negative comments and not to care, genuinely not to care, what people might think. Certainly, George’s image garnered much attention and that was undoubtedly good for the band. I can’t think of anyone who is quite that outrageous, these days. There are the Lady Gagas and Amy Winehouses of the industry but there is something distinctly lacking and I think that’s honesty. So many will do what they think will sell, dress how they think they should, fashion for fashion’s sake, at the expense of their own personalities and, trust me, it shows. Boy George had and has a personality which sets him apart, because that personality is expressed outwardly through his appearance.
In the drama, there was even a part for one of the finest actors of our time: Steve Strange, who gave George a job at the Blitz, was played fabulously by Marc Warren (who played Danny Blue in the first four series of the BBC’s Hustle). He has that sparkle in his eye that can’t be acted and can turn from sweet guy to menace in a heartbeat. I freely admit to not knowing an awful lot about Steve Strange apart from the ubiquitous (at the time) Visage song Fade To Grey, but I get the feeling Marc Warren had him down pat.
In one of the publicity shots for the drama, I actually had to look twice. That’s Culture Club, was the thought that went wordlessly through my mind until, blink, no it’s not, it’s the actors dressed up. The make-up department did a stellar job. If the make-up hadn’t been right, all the costumes and acting in the world couldn’t have made it anything more than a parody. But it was perfectly administered. Hell, I wish I could do my own make-up that well.
It brought back home once again that, since the 80s, there’s been a distinct lack of colour in the music industry, and I mean that figuratively as well as literally. If we could only bring back some colour, the music might spring back into life again. We can but hope.