Below is the George Michael article entitled “The Lone Star State” published by Q mag in their June 1988 issue written by Adrian Deevoy.
His second career is already more succesful than his first. His spry and winning pop songs have a greater-than-average life expectancy. He is uncountably wealthy. And he’s only 24 years old. George Michael talks about the extraordinary rewards and the soul-destroying side-effects of striking out on his own. “I can cope a lot better than I could before,” he tells Adrian Deevoy.
“One last thing,” says the man with the media voice from CBS Europe. “Please, sensible questions, please. Now, then … Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. George Michael!”
The 200 assembled members of the European press corps swivel their heads, tape recorders, notepads and cameras to face the entrance through which Mr. George Michael will appear. An embarrassed cleaning woman scuttles across the passageway and a premature flash bulb goes off. The guilty photographer develops an immediate and intense interest in his camera strap. Of course he knew it wasn’t George Michael. He’s not that stupid. The man from CBS Europe hums a brief snatch of a melody, quite possibly from George Michael’s Faith. The album, and more specifically the tour, are, after all, the reasons we are sitting in this converted hangar room above the Ahoy Stadium in Rotterdam. He concludes the tune with a couple of nervous finger-triplets on the table in front of him. The table at which Mr. George Michael should be sitting at this very moment.
It had all gone so well until now: MTV and the satellite channels had arrived and set up punctually; the journalists had all miraculously appeared on time and contentedly sipped hot Dutch coffee, grimaced at the rather precocious sherry and noisily blown imaginary fumes from the mouths following their first acquaintance with the lighter fuel-flavoured Dutch national drink, Yonge Geneva. The CBS man had made sure everyone had taken a press pack containing the new single, One More Try, and a little metal badge. He had made his speech and casually tossed in the facts that Faith had now sold almost 10 and a half million copies worldwide and that if One More Try makes Number 1 in America it will equal The Beatles’ and The Beach Boys’ record of five consecutive US Number 1 singles. He’d shown the 30-minute documentary made by MTV that included an “in-depth” interview with George – a neat device to parry any thorny topics that might crop up during the conference. The journalists begin to chat and light cigarettes. He will have to hold their attention. “Er … in fairness to the guy, his plane was an hour late landing this morning and … er … great … he’s here now. We’ve had the practice run now. Ha ha ha. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. George Michael!
If it is possible to saunter coolly through a flashgun frenzy, George Michael does just that. After a quick introduction and several refusals to remove his dark glasses for the cameras (“If you saw my eyes you’d know I was lying through my teeth”), the conference opens with a spectacularly dim question asked by a lisping fashion victim from MTV: “What gives a George Michael concert that special magic?” The reporter from Italian Vogue, tie knot undone, Turkish cigarette on, hammers at his portable keyboard snapping his fingers impatiently every time his view is obscured. The George Michael correspondent from the German magazine Rennbahn Express, who bears an unnerving resemblance to Careless Whisper-period George, puts his notepad down and stares, lovestruck. Fleet Street hacks hustle for prime positions, elbowing Swedish stringers aside and then apologising. An excitable young scribe with GCSE Existentialism asks a question about death which is duly ignored. The writer from Smash Hits ponders the wisdom of asking the hirsute pin-up what colour he thinks Tuesday is. A courageous – if possibly ill-advised – photographer from Today newspaper, upon being informed that he will have just two numbers in which to take photographs during the evening’s event, enquiries kindly will it be all right if he leaves then? Ah, showbusiness.
“I really didn’t want to do the press conference,” says George Michael the following afternoon in a large and sumptuous hotel suite in the centre of Amsterdam. “I agreed to do it in a weak moment.” He pauses for dramatic effect, establishes eye contact, then continues on the first of the afternoon’s lengthy but entertaining anecdotes. “Shall I be mother?” he says, teapot poised. “My managers were going on at me that not enough people in Europe knew I was coming. Personally I’m not really that bothered because as long as all the people with tickets know, that’s all that matters, isn’t it? Unfortunately what that ended up meaning was the English press decided that they were a part of the European press and came along. Initially I said, No, you cannot come. It is difficult to stand in the same room and be civil to people who are trying to wreck my career. I wish I hadn’t done it because normally I don’t compromise to that degree. I never, ever normally sit in the same room with them.”
In contrast to the British press fascination with sex and slimming, the European reporters are generally after the definitive George Michael statement on Life. It must be difficult trying to come up with all the answers when you’re only 24 years old.
“You do get asked so many questions that you don’t actually have the right to answer at 24,” he nods earnestly. “It can make you think too hard about too many things. That’s why I’ve steered away from political issues and so forth for the most part because either I’m very divorced from them, being famous and wealthy, or I’m simply not wise enough. A global conscience has only become a social requirement in the last 30 years, anyway. It hasn’t always been necessary to know what’s going on everywhere. I am quite ignorant about a lot of world affairs. I know what I need to know about for my own life but I don’t feel bad about that, not at 24.”
Having presumably worked out the meaning of life for themselves, the tabloid contingent of the British press – generally known as Fleet Street or less charitably The Reptiles – are now preoccupied with a far more important query: Is George Gay? George is well aware of this.
“They’ve said that so many times!” he says angrily chasing a throat lozenge around his ultra-brite teeth. “Unfortunately it doesn’t make a difference if they can’t get you on anything – if you haven’t done anything in the past that they can dig up. Two weeks ago in Melbourne I got a threatening letter saying that they were going to print a story and they had five sworn affidavits from people who claimed they had sold me LSD when I was 19. So I was this real fucking junkie when I was 19! They didn’t print it, funnily enough. I think they realised how dodgy their sources were for once. But when you think about it, the result of them not having any dirt on me – because my past doesn’t really have anything that awful in it to drag up – is that they get more frantic to make something up. Like when I went on holiday with my best friend and my cousin. Despite already having tried to make out that they were my boyfriends about a year before, they tried again to say that these two guys were my boyfriends. One was my cousin for a start – which is really sick – and the other guy has been like my brother since I was two years old. They know who they are and they know they’ve both got girlfriends and everything. And on one hand I can sit back and laugh about it and all the people around me can laugh because they know the people supposedly involved, but on the other hand everyone who reads The Sun and the Mirror believes it. And I don’t bother denying it any more because I’m sick of denying it. What else are they going to do, you know? Bring up another bunch of people I was supposedly involved with? Bring up another bunch of drugs stories. I’ve got this thing in the back of my mind – they could get worse. They’ve got nothing to hang it on but it could get worse. The only thing limiting them is their imagination.”
Despite George’s brief announcement at the outset of the press conference that he doesn’t intend to answer any personal questions, when the man from CBS Europe announces that there is just time for one last question, Gill Pringle from the Mirror pounces. “Have you had an AIDS test, George?” George says that he hasn’t and the press conference ends. The following morning in London, the Mirror, the Sun and the Star run almost identical stories. I Live In Fear Of Aids By George Michael.
“I saw the headline this morning,” he shrugs. “I said to my manager I’m not going to read the rest of the article because it’ll just wind me up. Why did they bother paying to come out here? They could have made that up for nothing.”
Ironically, it was the self-same Fleet Street journalists who between 1982 and 1986 gave Wham! limitless columns inches building to innumerable “special tributes” when the group decided to split in the summer of 1986. Then with a traditional about-face the backlash began. Andrew Ridgeley was suddenly an unsightly growth which George had been trying to lose for years. Andrew hated George because he didn’t drive everywhere at 200mph after floating a curry on nine pints of pina colada. George admitted that Andrew had been musical luggage and they had never plugged his guitar in anyway. The dirt was liberally dished and came very close to spoiling what had been four years of highly enjoyable, good-time tongue-in-cheek song and dance.
In a series of almost arrogantly confident career moves that combined Wham!’s songwriting talents and business acumen with manager Simon Napier-Bell’s (his track record, of course, included The Yardbirds, Marc Bolan and Japan) uncanny Midas touch, George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley were stars well before they were 20 and way before they were in long trousers. This, they explained, was the modern approach to instant stardom. No paying dues and singing the blues for them. They intended to spend two years being Bad Boys with pushed shuttlecocks down their shorts for super-sensual video silhouettes driving the 15 to 18-year-old female target audience wild (with the help of 10 Top 10 singles) and then maybe on their success and maturing as songwriters and performers. Nothing could have been more perfect. Wham! went out on a high at their Farewell concert on June 28, 1986, an emotional exit enjoyed by 80,000 fans at Wembley Stadium. Then George Michael hit an all-time low.
“I woke up one morning,” he says staring hard at the table, “and I realised that there had been a period in Wham! when I had actually completely forgotten who I was. I had this depression for about eight months. It was a very self-pitying thing, sense of isolation and all that stuff. I started losing my temper for the first time in my life too. I suddenly realised I have a vicious temper. I got into fist-fights with friends, threw photographers against walls, acted very macho … terrible. In that period I lost my temper six or eight times. I wasn’t drunk or anything when I lost my temper. I was drinking a fair bit but it was worse that it happened when I wasn’t drunk because there was no excuse for my behaviour. The people that knew me who saw it were horrified. I’d go completely out of character. My voice would drop about an octave and I’d start talking with this incredibly heavy slang. A lot of it was not having a person there to say to me, Look, what the fuck have you of all people got to complain about? A combination of things set it off: Wham! split up and I came out of a bad relationship. For a time I thought I really didn’t want to get back into the music business when we finished Wham!. The problem was just that I had developed a character for the outside world that wasn’t me, and I was having to deal with people all the time who thought it was. So I made the decision to uncreate the person I had created and become more real. In retrospect I don’t think I could have made as clean a transition between Wham! and me without it. I needed a period where I could put things into perspective. One night during this depression I went out to see Andrew in LA and got pissed out of my head and poured it all out, and until that moment, the way I felt and what I was really thinking hadn’t crystallised. When I heard it actually come out of my own mouth it was like an exorcism. I saw him again last week when he came out to Hawaii. He worries about me being at the centre of all this fuss again without anyone to bounce off. We talked and I reassured him that I can cope with it all a lot better than I could before.”
George Michael the solo performer, just one album old, is already infinitely bigger than Wham!. Without a tabloid press constantly reminding them of the old, younger George Michael, the United States have taken him to heart and bought his album by the metric tonne. It begins to strike you exactly how famous he is when his publicist is not permitted to telephone his manager from the lobby of the hotel he is staying in. The staff have been briefed not to allow external or internal calls through to anyone in the entourage. The publicist patiently explains who she is once again. The girls at reception shrug and say something in Dutch that you could swear included the words “job’s worth”. A “George Michael Faith Tour Executive Pass” eventually gets us as far as the lift where we are met by the missing link between man and house. He wears a baseball cap and grunts in American. This chap, it transpires, is one of George’s two personal security officers. His other minder is an extremely affable Londoner called Bill. We are led to a sprawling suite in which are seated the nucleus of the organisation that has made George Michael a multi-million dollar industry. Two managers, two publicists, a make-up artist, a personal assistant and the two aforementioned minders. Two hours pass. The conversation gives an illuminating insight into the re-invention of George Michael the AOR artist. A British documentary is discussed. “Get that guy who did the Bowie documentary,” says Michael Lippman, George’s manager. “Cracked Actor. Bowie went on to do Man Who Fell To Earth after that. Made his career. The guy’s good.” As well as the standard managerial talk of “territories” and “target percentages”, the words “adult”, “mature” and “crossover” frequently recur. They read the English tabloids with charming naivety and say, “Jeez, you just can not deal with these people. They’re just not for real.” The minders thumb listlessly through magazines and talk about finding a place where they can work out. The make-up girl and the personal assistant discuss whether the hotel’s special £2-an-hour porn channel shows up on your check-out bill and the embarrassing ramifications thereof.
Word filters through from George’s suite that he is now ready to talk. It is only half-jokingly suggested over ferocious American handshakes that I “don’t go too hard on him” and more curiously that “you comb your hair and stuff before you go in there”. Barefoot in jeans and white T-shirt with tandoori tan very much in evidence, George Michael, slighter than you would imagine, opens the door and almost immediately asks for an “unbiased opinion” of last night’s show – the opening concert in the European leg of his world tour. He quickly adds that “they polished the stage without telling us so I couldn’t dance half as much as I was meant to. I was like Robin Cousins!” And that “it was the first time we’d really used all the effects”.
The main effect is a huge white cage that George and the band play in. It opens as the show starts and closes when it ends. It is very impressive. The show is, if anything, a little long, clocking in at just under two hours: three cover versions – Lady Marmalade, Play That Funky Music and Love’s In Need Of Love Today – and a smattering of Wham! songs including I’m Your Man and Everything She Wants break up the Faith album, reproduced live in its entirety. There is a very strong emphasis on sex throughout the show. Laser graphics flash strip-show neon signs and the words LUST and SEX throughout while George mediates between the wiggling-bottom-jacket-off-the-shoulder strut and the randy-labrador-shagging-the-vicar’s-leg stomp, both of which he freely admits are “suggestive” and “overtly sexual” and “very, very funny”. For George, who only leaves the stage for two swift jacket changes, the show is physically grueling, and a full-time fitness trainer is a necessary and very wise addition to the entourage. Unlike the Michael Jackson or recent Madonna concerts it is an audience participation event, although the level of desired participation can vary from joining in the occasional chorus to being subjected face-on to George’s amorous thrustings. If a psychiatrist were to visit the show he would probably diagnose an unhealthy trouser fixation.
“You could be right actually,” says George taking the accusation very seriously indeed. “It has just developed like that really. I expected to be dealing with a completely different audience on this tour. I expected a lot less screaming and I didn’t really get what I wanted, so maybe I’m over-compensating in the ‘raunch’ department to make up for it. I don’t find it shocking though. If I was a guy watching the show I’d think it was funny. If I was watching someone being that cocky up on stage, I’d think it was fun. It’s what made Mick Jagger watchable, it’s what makes Prince watchable – even Morrissey does it in his own way. I don’t expect the critics to disassociate that performer from me as a person because they don’t, they just think, Fucking big-headed wanker. But it’s difficult for me to think of those repercussions when the audience are obviously getting off on it so much. I think it’s really funny at the end of the show – it’s such a pathetically harmless thing to do – when I put my back to the audience and I take my jacket off really slowly and the place goes absolutely mental. It’s just so funny! It is really funny. But it’s not just the girls if you look at the guys during that bit they’re all going, Yeah! Go on! But it’s a real dichotomy for me. Because it’s impossible to equate the bloke who’s doing that with the bloke who in the next number sings his heart out in a ballad and really means it. People aren’t prepared to accept that those two sides co-exist. I think that’s why people are so cynical about me. It’s a fortunate position to be in: to be 24 years old and be presentable whilst still being able to write for a much older age group as well. The two things have just fought each other all the way.”
For pop bands initially propelled to success by hysterical under-age record sales, the crossover into mainstream respectability is often difficult, and over the years the crossover has claimed its share of victims – from Adam Ant to Duran Duran to Nik Kershaw and more recently, it would seem, Curiosity Killed The Cat. Has it been a particularly perilous period for George Michael?
“Not really,” he says breezily. “In America the crossover is done. It’s all taken care of. George Michael fans in Britain and Europe are still divided between the people who are into what I do as a recording or performing artist and the people who are into what I am physically. In America it’s fine for an adult, completely acceptable, to go into a conversation and say, Have you heard the new George Michael album? I think it’s great! In England it’s still dodgy. There’s that stigma. I’ve never been keen on the idea of having to sell myself as an adult. As I say, in America is hasn’t been necessary. I’m accepted as an adult because the music has already done it. In England I would love people to realise that there is a change but the tabloids and the limited TV and radio structures aren’t letting people discover that for themselves. People have always thought my career has been incredibly calculated and premeditated but it runs along pretty well parallel lines with most people’s careers, it’s just that the decisions I have made personally have been that much more … correct.”
How normal a private life can you lead now without being constantly surrounded, as you are on this tour, by minders and managers?
“These are exceptional circumstances,” he reasons, “and although I must admit I do go out less and less, now and then I have to go to pretty well the same places – where I know I’ll get a bit of breathing space. But I think if you can come through Wham! and the exceptional exposure we had around ’84 and ’85 and you still have a social life, still go out and get pissed out of your head, then you’re doing OK, you know? My big problem is I haven’t got the ability to tell people to fuck off. I have the right to tell people to leave me alone. But it’s not worth it to me now to be in a roomful of people and by the end of the evening five or six people have a real aggression towards you. I’d rather just be pleasant and tell people nicely. When I’m not on tour I don’t have any protection so I’m either rude to people and end up with everyone hating me or I’m polite and waste my evening answering the same questions over and over. So I tend to try and get pissed out of my head and just try to enjoy myself. It is getting harder and harder but I think compared to a lot of people I still get out quite a lot on my own.” When you are as famous as George Michael, you spend a great deal of your time contemplating the concept of fame. Quite realistically – although some would say downright immodestly – George Michael considers himself to be a star. “In rock music you can be a real star as an intellect or a personality or an enigma,” he says on his way to the bathroom for another throat lozenge. “In my context I was someone who had a lot of confidence in myself as a writer but knew that I wasn’t subversive or an exceptional person in any other way. I knew that there wasn’t anything about me that would really fascinate people. Then suddenly it dawned on me that I could raise people’s opinions of me as a physical entity. When that happened I did throw myself into it completely and that led to the period of depression when I actually believed in that person that I’d created for the media. Now that performing or promotional persona is just like a magnified version of me but around ’84 it wasn’t me. I don’t know who I wanted me to be. I became this harmless, feminine-looking David Cassidy figure who all the little girls could take home without any fear of me putting my hand up their skirt. It was a strange situation because before that I wasn’t the type of guy who could walk into a room and pull any bird, and suddenly, at 19, I could.”
George Michael can discuss his good looks and how they have been an essential ingredient of his success with complete detachment. He has noticed with interest recently, since he has become even more successful, that money and power are even more attractive than a good tan and long eyelashes.
“When I was 19 or 20 there were any number of ‘fairly ordinary’ up to ‘quite good looking’ people I could take home. Now, if I chose to, I could walk into a room and leave with people who are much better looking or think a lot more of themselves. It’s ironic really, now that I don’t choose to, a lot of people are available to me. I find the idea of being that much of a catch for someone a very non-masculine and very castrating position to be in. There’s no chase, you don’t have to do anything.”
He says he never really “keeps an eye on his bank balance” and can’t remember how much tax he has to pay living in Britain. “Is it 60 per cent or 63? It’s something around there anyway.” But at 24 he is undeniably loaded. Is that strange?
“It’s very strange,” he says with the authority of a person who has given this subject much thought. “I’ve not really noticed the difference between being rich and being very rich. I’ve been as free as money can make you for a long time. When you don’t have to think about money, one thing it can do to you is give you too much time to think about other things, so you can develop a whole new set of problems – which I suppose I have done to an extent.”
Is he generous? Would he, for example, bail out a skint friend?
“Oh yeah,” he laughs. “All the time. It’s funny, when I have friends who have money problems I try and get their perspective on it because you really do forget what it’s like. Then I normally end up lending them money anyway! Everyone owes me money. And they all say, You’re the last person to come and ask for it back. So I’ll probably be owed it for a long time. The best thing about being rich is I could spend a ridiculous amount of money now and know that it would have no effect on my life next week or next year. I’m extravagant in the sense that I go through a lot of hi-fi equipment. I’m always getting the latest stuff. And one thing that I really have developed a liking for that costs a lot of money is … um … drugs. Ha ha ha. No it’s not. It’s cars actually. It’s a real cliché, isn’t it? It’s a toy. But overall I get something from people and I get something from music, but things in themselves hold no real value for me. I’m not a possession-orientated person, but I swear if I lost every penny tomorrow I’d be rich again within two years. Even if I couldn’t do it for myself. Writing songs is my bank.”
Within musicians’ circles, although they will begrudgingly admit that he can write a good tune, George Michael isn’t very popular. This could be because he never served a traditional musical apprenticeship. It could, of course, also be that they are extremely jealous.
“I think people, musicians especially, are jealous,” he says. “I think mostly people are jealous in that it’s all gone too well. Too smoothly. No fuck ups. I often think if there was one major, obvious chink in the armour that people could see it would be easier for me. People consider what I’ve done to be too inhuman. The most unfortunate part of that is that I think I’ve written and sung some of the most human songs I’ve heard on the radio in the last couple of years. But when you do all the other stuff as neatly as I’ve done it, it can actually detract from the human element of the songs.”
The band on the Faith tour have two nicknames for George. Both refer to his Greek origins and both could be construed as being rather unkind. The wittier of the two is The Bubble (Bubble ‘n’ Squeak – Greek) With The Stubble. The other is Stavros. None of them, they claim, would dream of calling him either of those names to his face, which would suggest that the two parties have something of a strained relationship.
“It’s a very difficult area,” sighs George. “The more people you employ, the more people you have in your life who can’t be honest with you and that’s what I find most distressing about touring. You’re responsible for so many people’s livelihoods. I prefer to be with unbiased company, put it that way. People are terrified of me. I don’t know why. I very rarely fire people. They’d have to do something really out of order. I’m very friendly to people but … I really don’t know why they’re frightened of me. Maybe it’s the size of my position. I’m quite distant even from the band, but I find it very distressing to get close to people who can’t really be honest with me. I like to know that if I make a joke and the room laughs that it was funny. I’m not saying that anybody really licks my arse but it is evident, when you really analyse it, that at the end of the day I pay their wages. It frightens me. The idea of dishonesty or possible dishonesty frightens me. Being around people who can’t tell you to fuck off. Whereas the people I spend time with in my personal life tell me to fuck off on a very regular basis!”
George Michael’s music generally comes in for one of two criticism: either that it is too clinically commercial or that he has taken a sound or even a song and moulded it into a George Michael song. There is ample evidence for the latter charge on Faith: the title track steals both riff and atmosphere from Presley’s Sun-era rock ‘n’ roll, I Want Your Sex sounds strongly reminiscent of Prince, and One More Try bears more than a passing resemblance to Ben E. King-period ’60s soul. In Wham! too, he “interpreted” various rhythmic patterns from Tamla (I’m Your Man) and ’70s funk motifs (Everything She Wants). George blames this on his subconscious.
“I resent the fact that people think my songwriting is contrived and calculated,” he says defensively. “I only write in terms of commercial music because that’s the way my mind works. You either have that sort of pop sensibility or feel for a commercial melody or you don’t. You can’t write songs on a business level. You just write songs the way they come out. Sure, you draw on influences but that’s more often than not a subconscious process. Everybody does it. It’s inevitable and I grew up listening to a real mish-mash of music so, of course, the feel of some songs or the drum patterns or whatever might sound familiar. It would be stranger if they didn’t.”
There have been various allegations in the early part of the tour that a lot of the music in the live show is in fact the same sounds from the Faith album reproduced by a Synclavier computer to which the band mime.
“I wouldn’t deny that,” he says, surprisingly. “There are certain parts when the bass is synth and sometimes the drums are machines. Bits of the drum patterns are just the same as the album. They’re machines. The ballads are all real drums and some of the funk numbers are real drums. I don’t consider that to be bad. It’s all part of the show.”
There has been another claim that even the guitars and vocals are being digitally reproduced from a keyboard on stage as opposed to being played by the band.
“No. All the guitars are played,” he says firmly. “All the vocals are just me apart from the backing vocals. I don’t really think it matters that much anyway. It wouldn’t really bother me if I went to a show and someone somewhere wasn’t playing a particular part. I don’t think people want to come and hear a band playing live interpretations of the songs anymore. They want to hear what is essentially on the records with some live ambience but they don’t want drastic revisions. This isn’t rock ‘n’ roll. That’s not what I’m about at all. I don’t play rock ‘n’ roll. Far from it.”
Is the image you have adopted for Faith – what we shall, for want of a better description, call the “fairy biker” look – trying to project a “tough but kinda sensitive underneath it all” guy?
“Fairy biker! That’s really good,” he laughs. “Yeah, that’s probably what it is really. I like that look. I always have. It’s almost the same look as I had at the very beginning of Wham! if you think about it. This look is natural to me. It’s a lot more natural to me than all the white hair and earrings I was wearing in Wham!. That was so feminine looking! When I look back on that it’s so disgustingly embarrassing. I saw a clip from (Wake Me Up Before You) Go-Go recently and I thought, Who the fuck is that? What the fuck was I trying to prove? I’ve never really been quite sure who in the audience goes for this look. When we started Wham! with denims and leather, it was all definitely very ambiguous because there were two of us and we had a very strong gay following and I still have a strong gay following. My whole character has always been fairly ambiguous to people anyway.”
Does it bother you that you are constantly being labeled “gay”?
“No, there’s no combination of sexual elements that I’ve ever thought were wrong,” he says in what sounds like a well-rehearsed answer. “I’ve had so many friends whether they be bi or gay or straight or whatever, I’m so used to speculation. To tell you the truth it’s never really bothered me. Lies bother me. Whether or not people say I’m gay doesn’t bother me.”
Have you ever had the obligatory homosexual experience?
“No I haven’t,” he laughs, blushes, then shouts excitedly sounding not unlike the late Kenneth Williams. “I wouldn’t say if I had, would I? Even with the term ‘obligatory’ thrown in. Ha ha ha. I’m used to people asking, though. In some situations like just then when you asked, I would normally find it very offensive, but we’re talking and I’m being very casual about the whole conversation. But in the context that it’s normally asked I find it so offensive that people should even expect an answer. People haven’t the right to know.”
With a gentle knock on the door, a minder appears and reminds George that he has to leave in five minutes. George nods and the interview is over. He heads for the bathroom for one last throat lozenge. This is the first month in a nine-month world tour. You cannot begin to calculate the number of throat lozenges he will have consumed by the time the Faith Tour reaches Britain in June, let alone America later in the year. America, his entourage will confide, will be the Big Challenge. Ten a half million album sales have resulted in great expectations and heightened the appetite for all things George. There may even be another press conference where he will once again be subjected to a further batch of painfully innocuous queries. How tall is his girlfriend? Did he really buy 30 pairs of second-hand denim trousers in Australia to ensure he found the perfect fit? When will he be playing some unpronounceable town in Albuquerque? Petty and inconsequential all. But there is one question he will not be asked, because it transcends trivia. How do you get your stubble such a regular length?
“I can’t believe people ask me this question,” he sighs. “It’s just a trimmer.”
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