Below is the transcript of the interview with George Michael by Nick Bennett for E!News show in Australia’s Channel 10. The interview was broadcasted on December 1, 1998.
“G’day, it’s Nick Bennett here in London to talk to George Michael. Now George lives in London, BUT, when you’re a star like he is, I guess the whole World belongs to you. Which means that whenever anything happens in his life the whole World wants to know about it”.
This is not what George Michael had planned when he first became a
Next shot is of George and Nick in a creamy-toned interview room. George is dressed all in black – aids insignia on his lapel – sitting on a white couch – looking very relaxed. Looking very handsome – as always.
George Michael: “They’re closer now because 1) people know my sexuality without question and 2) ah, I’ve been, I’ve tried to stay kind of fairly funny about it. The misconceptions that were there before aren’t really there anymore.”
Being a popstar
George Michael: “Andrew and I were, so, in our own little World when we were first, um, touring. We were totally off on our own little thing. We thought we were hysterical and everyone else just thought we were complete wankers.”
Though we’ve known the solo George Michael for longer than Wham! existed its hard not to think of this one Wham! video when you hear his name.
George Michael: “I’m embarrassed as hell about the videos, who wouldn’t be you know – what sane person wouldn’t be. They still drag up all your old stuff in a way that, you know, if I’d disappeared at the end of Wham! there’d be very few showings of Wham! videos on the television. I wouldn’t have to explain away the day-glow gloves every five minutes you know.”
But the day-glow gloves, Choose Life t-shirts and the shorts provided as part of a ‘Fila’ sponsorship were crucial. Although he’s won the prestigious Ivor Novello Award for songwriting three times,
George Michael: “It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about film stars, pop stars, the minute loads of women are after a guy, every guys ‘Oh he’s gay’, so there’s that – there’s that little bit but I think because I’m so, my, my sexuality is obviously ambiguous. Not just from the ways that I looked and have looked over 15 years but my voice and what I sing and the way I sing it, you know, I’m not Bruce Springsteen.”
Not Bruce maybe, but certainly a
Rebecca Davies: He needed to shed an old image. He was going out on his own, um, he, you know, needed to go out there strongly and have something behind him that was incredibly high profile, and what could be more high profile than having the most beautiful women in the World?”
Sydney-based designer Rebecca Davies produced the Freedom 90 video for George – in the process helping Linda, Naomi and Christy become big enough to not get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day.
Rebecca Davies: Now they actually did it all for free the 2nd time around because.. I think a lot of the proceeds went to an Aids charity.
And it was Aids which was to indirectly lift the blanket of privacy to George’s love life. Despite the supermodels, George’s leanings became more obvious when after the
George Michael: “You don’t write a whole album about loss, um and dedicate it to your ex-boyfriend, you know, your late boyfriend, um without knowing that people are going to pick up on it. I kind of liked the fact that I thought most people knew without me having dealt directly with it via, you know, The Sun, or The Mirror, or, whatever. I liked that idea. Um, but similarly I liked the idea that people now know that I’m gay and they also know that I have absolutely no problem with it”.
And if you didn’t know already you sure worked it out when George was arrested in April in a Beverly Hills toilet on a charge of lewd conduct. He publicly ‘came out’ on CNN although he’d done that to his friends and family 8 years ago.
George Michael: “It doesn’t seem brave to me because it was completely obvious to me, what I had to do. I couldn’t deal with them thinking that I was, ah, sad and lonely. So I had to go out there and say ‘Look – I have a partner, I’m not on my own. I’m actually pretty happy as a gay man. I just made a stupid mistake’, and ultimately you’re still just talking about sex. And sex is sex, whether it’s in the middle of a park, or in a bedroom, or on a table or whatever. You know. It was really just I suppose drawing attention to that immediately and saying well look, you know, it was really about where it happened, not what happened”.
“Are you obsessed with sex do you think?”
George Michael: “Am I obsessed with it? – NO. I don’t think so.
“Obviously the Judge thought differently because he’s given you some sex therapy”.
And as for the 6 hours of counseling George was forced to undergo…
George Michael: “Six hours, give me a break… I mean I like to think, OK, my sexual problems may not be that complex, but I’d like to think it would take more than 6 hours to work them out you know. So I did my 6 hours of that, I’ve done that already”.
Did you work anything out?
George Michael: “Oh, I’m cured, I’m totally cured. I never actually masturbate anymore without calling my lawyer.”
A man who’s lived through pop stardom and public humiliation to come out laughing and most importantly singing.
With disco balls,
George Michael: “I don’t suppose that the, ah, Beverley Hills police are going to respond with belly laughs to my video”.
“I love it –
George Michael: “Oh, I think
Is it kinda like
George Michael: “Well, its an ‘up yours’ but its not just, no, its an ‘up yours’ for various people but ultimately its an ‘up yours’ to the whole concept that because I’m famous, or regardless of whether I’m famous that I should somehow see, um, be, see having gay sex as some kind of ailment. You know, a shameful thing. To be a gay actor is difficult, to be a gay politician is extremely difficult, to be a gay popstar is pretty, kind of – who cares, really”.
Who cares? Well for a start the fans who followed George since Wham!
Vanessa Millyard: “April 10th was the date when we first found out that he was gay. Um, we really knew it though. I mean all George fans knew it. We just didn’t discuss it. It just wasn’t sort of talked about”.
Amelia Tait: “And I think we’re proud of him ‘coming out’.”
Vanessa Millyard: “Absolutely, yeah. The more accessible they are – the more you want them sort of thing I think – yeah. We don’t have a chance – especially now.”
Amelia Tait: “You never know.”
Vanessa Millyard: “Maybe he’ll change?”
Amelia Tait: “Stranger things have happened.”
The fans are unlikely to get a chance to see George up close very soon though. He loves Australia but he doesn’t love touring.
George Michael: “As a solo artist I find it a very lonely experience and I’m not really in the mood to put myself through anymore…. Pain right now, so the touring will have to wait.”
And you can understand why he might have a low threshold for pain. In the past few years he’s lost a lover, lost his mother and lost a battle with music giant Sony, but after making fun of them in his ‘Fastlove’ video he’s kissed and made up giving them 3 new songs for the double album “Ladies and Gentlemen – The Best of George Michael”. They include ‘Outside’ and an apparent tribute to the policeman who arrested him called ‘A Moment With You’.
George Michael: “I’m very proud of the stuff that’s on this ‘Greatest Hits’ package and I want it to do well, so I have no, you know, a lot of people will be thinking – what are you doing, what are you doing? You’re doing interviews right now to promote a piece of Sony product but as far as I’m concerned it’s not a piece of Sony product. It’s my work you know, my work and I’m very proud of 14 years worth of work and I’m perfectly prepared to get behind it.”
So after the ‘Greatest Hits’ album has slaughtered the charts what’s next?
George Michael: “What’s next? Next is a bit of a rest um, and then planning for the next solo album – the next full album which I think has got to be something totally different.”
George Michael: “Oh, no, not that different! I’m not going to have an early mid-life crisis but – there is you know – there is another dance album in me. The one I can get away with before I get too old. I see myself getting older, um and luckily I don’t really have a problem with that. Because if I had a problem with getting older on top of having a problem with the way I look anyway then I’d be in real trouble”.
After ‘Older’ George joked his next album should be called ‘Fatter’ but with the year he’s had, a more appropriate title might be a word starting with ‘W’ – ‘WISER’.
George Michael: “I see someone a lot more complete than the person I used to see and that’s not a recent thing and it’s certainly got nothing to do with getting arrested. That didn’t do it for me”.
“Get arrested – feel younger”
George Michael: “Yeah exactly. Lose those lines.
- An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
- George Michael Interview with Capital FM Radio with Dr. Fox (Dec 1998)
- George Michael’s Interview with the Gay Magazine ‘The Advocate’ (1999)
- Q Magazine: George Michael The Only Interview (December 1998)
- George Michael in Q Magazine Interview (October 1990)