Say It's Your Birthday: Boy George

Boy George, Madonna, Prince, Michael

Jackson--‹these were

some of the central figures of '80s pop culture, overt in their sexuality and

extremely successful in parlaying MTV airplay into massive exposure and huge

record sales. Boy George, born George O'Dowd today in 1961, led the band

Culture Club through a string of hits: ‹"Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" (#2,

1982), "I'll Tumble 4 Ya (#9, 1983), and "Karma Chameleon" (#1,

1983)--‹all the

while flouting his flamboyant transvestitism. Mixing watered-down reggae and

smooth pop effects, Culture Club was little more than a front for George's

silky voice and public persona. In 1986, soon after the release of Culture

Club's fourth album, From Luxury to Heartache, Boy George admitted that

he was addicted to heroin. Culture Club disbanded, and George got off dope,

only to get addicted to prescription narcotics. Following another effort to get

clean, George began recording solo albums, starting with 1987's Sold.

None of his albums did very well in the states, although in 1992 Boy George had

a hit with "The Crying Game" from the movie of the same name, a movie that,

appropriately enough, dealt with some of the issues involving transvestitism.

In 1995 George recorded another solo album, and, more notably, wrote a tell-all

autobiography, Take It Like A Man. --Seth Mnookin