“George Michael: No Sex Please” is an interview published in the SKY magazine and written by Simon Mills for the October 22nd – November 4th, 1987 issue.
George Michael is so proud of his new album that he wants to release seven singles from it. He talks exclusively to SKY about fame, surgery and vanity.
The head waiter is probably a little too familiar. He talks casually of film and pop stars, putting only chummy christian names to each. “We had Robert, Robert De Niro, here the other week,” he says while serving coffee. “He was very nice … oh and Mickey (Rourke) phoned from Paris yesterday. Yes, he sounded fine … Where is Rupert (Everett) these days? In the South of France? How lovely for him … listen George (Michael). Jean-Paul (Gaultier) is over there. He’s very pleased that you’re wearing one of his T-shirts. He wants to say hello … yes of course, later on will be fine.”
This is Blakes Hotel, a Chinese-style hotel/restaurant with a salubrious airbrushed ambience and impressive visitors books. George Michael always conducts his interviews here. All the staff know him and there are only a few tables, well enough spaced for his intimate conversations with the world’s press not to be overheard by aurally keen fellow diners.
He arrives at least an hour late, due to a hastily scheduled work-out, untanned, unshaven [of course] and only vaguely groomed. He’s wearing white running shoes, carefully torn faded Levi 501s, Ray Ban Aviators and a black and beige zipped Gaultier T-shirt. Like all rock stars George Michael loves Gaultier. “He does make incredible clothes,” George mutters after a brief but polite and inevitable introduction to the Parisian couturier. George Michael wants to talk about anything except sex.
“I woke up this morning and said to myself, if anyone asks me about sex today I’m just going to stop talking! I think it’s about time to close the book on that one,” he says of his exhaustive libidinous raps which resulted from the recent I Want Your Sex series of interviews. “I suppose I invited it by releasing the single but you live and learn, don’t you?”
Affable, articulate, and easy to interview, George Michael could be anything from a property tycoon to a young nightclub boss sucking his Foie De Gras on toast. He drives a Mercedes Coupe (with car phone) and is fascinatingly normal.
What is your new album like?
It’s called Faith. Not, as one paper said, because I’m a Born Again Christian. I’ve gone through a cycle. A couple of years back I was very low and very cynical about the music business – it was just before the break-up of Wham! I was very introspective and depressed. I mistrusted people, especially people in the music business. Now I’ve come through that period, better than I thought I would, and it’s given me optimism and faith. I know that sounds very melodramatic but it’s true. When you feel depressed and you have to front the most “up” group in the world, which is what Wham! were, you end up feeling fraudulent. I did dislike myself for a while. I look at Wham! videos now and completely understand why people wanted to kick my head in. I think I like myself a lot better now. Well, I mean I’m much more at peace with myself now. I still haven’t told you what the album’s like though, have I? It’s very difficult to say. It’s very different from how I intended it to be, it’s also much better than I thought it would be. At one end there are aggressive dance tracks and at the other there’s a jazz ballad. There are six singles on it, seven including I Want Your Sex. That’s not because I want to milk the album, but I’m so proud of the songs that I’d be heart-broken if they weren’t all released.
What happened to the Michael Jackson duet?
That was blown out of proportion. We only ever had one meeting and eventually he pulled out – for political reasons I think. We were supposed to be doing a song for the anti-Apartheid thing. On reflection I’m glad it never happened because after the Aretha record I would have become a token honky. People ask me to write songs for them all the time, people who I feel flattered to have been asked by, but I just have to say no. I can barely write enough songs for myself. I must be the least prolific songwriter alive! Apparently Prince wrote about 80 songs for the Sign “O” The Times album. That would be impossible for me. I can’t work that quickly. I think too hard. I mean, I’ve only written about eight or nine songs in the past year and most of them are on the new album. Sometimes it is easy for me. Writing Go-Go, Freedom and I’m Your Man was absolutely effortless. I’m very proud of those songs but there are elements which creep into my songwriting now which would be stupid to try and force out. That would be fraudulent as well. You know, trying to stay young.
Is it true that you are moving to Los Angeles to live?
No. I love England. I’m not really myself when I’m not here. My only objection to living here is paying out huge amounts of tax to a government I don’t approve of. It’s pretty difficult giving that amount of money to anyone, but it makes it even more difficult when you know there’s probably a Cruise missile with your initials on it. I couldn’t move out of my new house anyway – I’ve only been there five months. It’s so comfortable. I bought it fully furnished and I haven’t bought a single thing for it. Not a lampshade, a picture frame, nothing. That’s weird isn’t it? I’m just not a possessions-orientated person. I don’t see things and say to myself, “I want that”. My ambitions have always been to make the quality of my life better but not in a material way. I wanted to become a star to satisfy my ego, not so I could buy flash furniture. So what do I spend my money on? Well I go out a lot, and I buy cars. I bought Kathy [his girlfriend] a car and I bought all my family cars. There’s no better present you can give is there? The shock value is wonderful. Mind you people are starting to expect it from me now. “Ask George to your party … he’ll get you a car you know!” I also spend a lot of money on clothes. Not because I buy a lot of clothes, it’s just that those I do buy are very expensive.
Were you disappointed with the sales of I Want Your Sex?
Yes. The only good thing about that is the fact that the song will still be fresh to people buying the album. So many people never actually heard that song. I’m so pissed off with the censorship in this country. The single only sold about 200,000 copies, that’s the worst-selling record I’ve ever had.
You only ever release two or three pictures of yourself to the press and there are stories of how you spend hours and hours getting ready for photo sessions. Some people might easily think that you are vain and precious.
I know it does seem like I’m trying to be difficult but I’m honestly not. This is the only country where I’m regularly photographed by paparazzi, so it’s easy for any magazine or newspaper to print a picture of me staggering out of a club pissed out of my head. Therefore, when I do have the chance to have some control over pictures of myself I use it. I’m trying to remedy the problem by doing more sessions but it’s difficult. I hate having my picture taken. It’s getting worse as time goes on. I find it very difficult to pose in shots and there are very few pictures of myself that I really like. My reputation is, in a kind of subliminal sense, growing, and as a lot of people fall away, like Duran, Culture Club, Frankie, etc., groups who I seem to be holding up very well against, it leaves me more and more important in the business. I notice that, as time goes by, when people stare at me they stare at me harder and longer because I’m becoming a part of something they see every day in the papers rather than a singer or a performer. You see the more successful you become, and the more known you are, the more you realise that people expect so much more from you. That’s another reason why I might seem to be a bit fussy, Am I vain? I’m very conscious of my appearance. I don’t think that means I’m vain though. I don’t think that has anything to do with vanity. I think someone who’s vain is someone who doesn’t give a s— about their appearance because they know they look great … and that’s Andrew. He’s in an enviable position in that respect. Being neurotic about how you look for photos and stuff is not vanity to me, just insecurity manifesting itself.
Would you ever consider plastic surgery?
Ugghhh! No! I’d never touch my face in any way. If you’re healthy and everything works and you have the kind of face people seem to like I think to start messing about with it is just asking for trouble.
You never take minders with you for protection when you go to clubs. Other famous people in your position would be terrified of being seen out without them.
Well I tend not to go to clubs so much these days anyway. I end up just getting gawked at. I’m very very bad at getting rid of people quickly. I’m just too polite. If I’m drunk I spend the whole evening having conversations about myself with people I don’t know. People are never vicious, they’re just a bit too fascinated. I’m not really that interested in talking about me. What I am pleased about is that I am getting a different kind of reaction from fans these days. I much prefer it. Girls used to think they were expected to scream at me, so they’d stand there and have a little whimper. I get far more sexual advances these days from people of my own age and I find that less embarrassing. It’s very flattering when they think you’re attractive and horny. I’ve got used to refusing, though. I’d hate to have minders. I just don’t think they’re necessary at all. I’m very frightened of that whole idea of being cosseted or being protected … even if I need it. I take my chances. I don’t want to live my life like that. If I can have a social life without minders then just about anyone can. It just goes to show that you can do it if you really want to. I think the day I have to have a minder will be a very sad day for me.
- Last Wham! Interview: No. 1 Magazine (1986)
- An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
- George Michael Interview in Blitz Magazine (June 1988)
- George Michael: The Lone Star State Interview on Q Magazine (June 1988)
- Tough talk with Wham’s George Michael (Los Angeles Times, 1984)