The interview “British Bad Boy George Michaels Back in the U.S.” by B. Voss was published on July 25-August 7, 2008 issue of the Gay Life magazine.
This is a shorter version of the interview published in the HX Magazine on June 27, 2008.
After performing more than 80 shows in Europe on his latest tour, George Michael has returned for his first U.S. tour in 17 years. The 25 Live tour, coming to the Verizon Center in Washington, DC on July 29, will feature songs from his new album Twenty-Five, released this April. The 44-year-old pop star will continue producing music, but considers the tour a “way of
saying thank you to everybody before I move on.”
Gay Life has the exclusive on Michael’s coming out, the U.S. tour and his recent foray into acting.
Have you altered your tour for North American audiences?
I’m making adjustments. There are a few more tracks from Faith, but other than that, not really. I’ve got to play to the fans that have been buying my stuff that hasn’t been on the radio for the past 15 years. In other words, I’ve got to not play down to anybody. Ultimately, there’s enough old stuff in there for people who don’t know the newer stuff, so they’ll be alright.
Is there any song you’ve officially retired?
Not really, but there are only a couple of Wham! songs I can get away with — “Everything She Wants” and “I’m Your Man.” Other than that, there’s nothing that I have a real objection to.
Did you feel a special connection with gay fans even before you came out in 1998? Surely you must’ve known it wasn’t just girls eyeing your butt in the Faith days.
Oh God, yeah, I knew that. With all those number one club records and stuff, I really have had a great amount of support from the gay community in America in the last 15 years, so absolutely that’s special. I actually write about my real experience now, and I think that’s one of the things that makes it easier for gay people to listen to.
Have you gotten any positive feedback from a gay fan that made coming out professionally worth the drama?
Quite a few people have written to me over the years on that basis. From the moment I outed myself, when I wrote “Outside,” immediately I thought, Wouldn’t it be great to make a video for all those kids that are now where you were 25 years ago, with your only experience being cruising — and feeling terrible about it because you’re 16 or whatever? If someone had made a video like that for my entertainment when I was a young guy, I would’ve loved it.
Can a gay artist succeed if he’s out from the beginning?
It’s happening in Europe — Will Young was out from day one and it didn’t hurt him at all — but it’s still very tricky in America, where you’re so categorized as soon as people realize you’re gay.
Would you advise a closeted performer in America to stay in the closet?
Absolutely not. There is no career that’s worth that. I’d just say, “Come out and accept that you’ll lose some of your audience.”
You recorded a great cover album, Songs from the Last Century, in 1999. Is there any artist you’d like to hear do a George Michael cover?
Maybe Amy Winehouse, although I think maybe my stuff is a bit straightforward for her.
How did you feel about Carrie Underwood’s cover of “Praying For Time” on American Idol’s Idol Gives Back?
I thought it was very flattering. She really sung her heart out, didn’t she? I’m going to find some opportunity to thank her. That’s probably why they invited me on to the American Idol finale.
Do you wish more Idol contestants sung George Michael songs?
Well, normally Simon Cowell tells them, “You just don’t touch a George Michael song,” which I thought was quite complimentary.
Earlier this year you made your American acting debut on Eli Stone. On which other American show would you like to appear?
I prefer watching TV. I don’t think I’d like a career in it. It was just a remarkable thing because they wanted to name all of the episodes after my songs and write me into the actual storyline, but the music was the main reason I did it. People think because I did Extras and Eli Stone that maybe I’m trying to make a foray into acting, but I’m not.
How do you maintain such a good sense of humor about your mishaps?
Well, with the stuff that I get up to, if I didn’t have a sense of humor I’d really be up shit creek, as they say. I can always see the funny side, especially if it’s about sex.
25 Live comes to the DC Verizon Center on Tuesday, July 29. For tickets, visit www.georgemichael.com
- George Michael: Faith Rewarded (HX Magazine, 2008)
- George Michael Interview with Capital FM Radio with Dr. Fox (Dec 1998)
- An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
- George Michael Interview by Jo Whiley (2002)
- George Michael in Eli Stone Special