Transcript of the George Michael interview on the Dutch TV show Tros by Ivo Niehe in December 1998. To watch the video of the interview, click on the Jan. 8, 2017 Avrotros TV show at the 33:45 mark
What do I say, mister Michael or George?
George: George is fine…
(to the crew) Can we start?
George: … or Your Royal Highness… (laughs)
Okay George, is it exaggerated to say that the video is a bold statement?
George: A bold statement? No, I think it’s a very bold statement. But I’m … You know, it’s kind of not… it’s not really that… it shouldn’t have really surprised people quite as much as it has, because I have a history of… If you back me into a corner – and obviously I was seriously backed into a corner there – if you back me into a corner, I’m gonna come out fighting. You know, I was really stitched up. I had something completely awful happen to me. I’m firmly convinced that it didn’t happen by accident. And I didn’t plan it. And the actual arrest, the arrest itself… What actually happened without going into it, the arrest itself was illegal. So the video is my perfect opportunity. I mean, I might not be able to tell people exactly what happened, but I can at least say: look, one, I can laugh about it and two, the police are bastards, you know.
You were arrested for disorderly conduct. How disorderly was it?
George: Well, it was no more or less disorderly as than the policeman involved, put it that way.
What’s the best joke that has been made about it? I know about 1,230 jokes about Clinton, there must have been jokes about this as well.
George: There have only been a few about me. A couple of them were really good… I like the one that said that George Michael is afraid to travel back into America, ’cause he’s afraid of being stopped at customs for handling swollen goods… I liked that one… But other than that… There were only a couple, really… Nothing really great.
But to conclude the subject, it wasn’t very chic this way of coming out. If it’s a way of coming out, it’s not the chicest way of doing it.
George: Not very chic. But I at least managed to turn it into something original, you know. And I’m certainly not the first person to be accused of or to be arrested for the same thing. I’m not the first, I won’t be the last, I’m just the biggest. You can take that any way you like. (smiles)
George: It’s just because I don’t like to see myself smiling.
That’s the only reason…
George: That’s the only reason. I’m not trying to let everyone think I’m really miserable.
Your mother was very important to you, wasn’t she?
George: Oh yeah, very much, very much so.
Can you say in what respect?
George: Well, she was just a great mother. And she was important to me in the way that a mother is important to her child, especially to her son.
This is the decade where popstars often say that success doesn’t mean anything. When suddenly you realise that people around you die, for example. It’s the first time that so many very successful people in one industry say: it didn’t make me happy. But success must have made you happy at some point. When we go back to the beginning of your career. I saw you on a videoclip and you were very happy. You seemed to be enjoying yourself enormously.
George: Success did make me happy, but to be perfectly honest, there was a period of time where… it stopped making me happy. Caus’ I was very lonely. And then when that happened, I decided to stop doing certain things. I decided I didn’t want to be working as a professional George Michael for 365 days a year. Because I was unhappy and lonely. And I needed to get my life together. And the things that have made me unhappy in my life have not had anything to do with my work. They were just things I couldn’t control.
But on the other hand, you started hating let’s say this character you created yourself, the character of George Michael.
George: Not really, I mean I never hated him. I’ve had two very strong driving forces and one of them has been pure, I think, and that’s my music. That’s been a pure desire to make better music and to keep making music and to keep pleasing people with it. And the other driving force has been my ego, which was very fragile and very insecure. And that’s the reason I wanted to be famous. Any celebrity that tells you they came into this business as a secure person, is lying their ass off.
But there’s this paradox, because you created George Michael because he had to
George: The original person I was had not had time to develop or form properly. I was straight out of school and straight into the music business. Nine months later I had a record contract and within a year of leaving
You had to have that contract or your father would have kicked you out…
George: How many people grow up with the ability to resist stardom? If you think that you’re potentially writing hit songs and you can sing them… I’d have to be some kind of superhuman nineteen-
People around you say: what happened last April in America was not just an incident. It was also
George: It was a bad period, yes. I’d say… I suppose… I think the carelessness was self-destructive and I think I was still going through a self-destructive period. I think I felt for a long time after my mother’s death, that… I don’t know… I felt that things were… I guess I was just going through the extremes of grief, having a very, very serious depression and within that
On the other hand, to come back to that story… It’s none of my business at all. I mean, you went to CNN, you even went on the Internet to explain yourself. And I always had the impression: why is he doing that? It’s none of my business.
George: Yeah, but it’s dignity. It had been made your business in other people’s words. It’s quite simple, really. I mean, do you really want to leave the world with “zip me up before you go-go” as their abiding memory of what happened to me? I didn’t read a lot of the stuff that went on, but I knew what it was about. And I knew how bad it would be. I looked at other scandals and the way people dealt with them and I always thought, unless you hurt
People around you knew already?
George: Yeah, everyone knew about it. My sex life had been thrown into a public arena. I thought the most dignifying thing to do would be the opposite of what everyone expected and to come out and talk about it. The only area where I’m confused about this whole
But everyone’s supposed to do the opposite, to come out with it?
George: Exactly, exactly. And in political terms, it’s a lot more serious. I mean, for me, it’s just about me, isn’t
Politics are even a more complicated business than showbusiness?
George: Yeah, I think that there are all kinds of considerations
So still the two characters?
George: Yes, but less and less so.
If you hear a better joke about what happened, please do call us.
George: I will and if you hear one, even if it’s in Dutch, you can call me too.
Okay. Thank you very much.
George: Thank you.
- George Michael Interview with Capital FM Radio with Dr. Fox (Dec 1998)
- An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
- George Michael’s Interview with the Gay Magazine ‘The Advocate’ (1999)
- George Michael in Q Magazine Interview (October 1990)
- George Michael Interview on Q Magazine (December 1998)