The George Michael interview “The Girl Who Made My Heart Go Wham!” was written by Simon Kinnersley and published in Woman’s Own magazine on 24 October 1987.
She’s called Kathy. She’s young and beautiful and envied by millions. And she certainly made George Michael change his ways! By Simon Kinnersley
Girls and rows, sex and trouble. It had always been the same. It was the only thing that anyone wanted to talk about. That was the trouble being a pop star, particularly when all those things had happened. No-one was interested that they were all in the past. They made him more exciting, more interesting. He knew just how important that was. It sold.
So it was time to talk about rows and girls again and he rubbed his three day stubble and insisted that he didn’t mind. It was a bit like a mechanic complaining about the oil and grease. It went with the job. It was all part of being George Michael. He wasn’t going to let it get to him, not now.
No-one had told him that being a musician meant being a salesman too. But he’d got stuck in and now he was among the best. Once he’d been selling Wham! Now he was marketing himself.
That’s where the row stories had started. The line went that he and his old school friend and Wham! partner Andrew Ridgeley hated one another. He shook his head: “We’re still great friends, and see each other all the time.” he says.
And then there were the girls. There had been so many. But they didn’t count for much these days – these days there was Kathy.
For two years he’d been with Kathy Jeung, a New York make-up artist. Now there weren’t hundreds of girls, there was just her. It was somethlng serious, something special and most important of all, something very different from anything else he’d known.
“Kathy didn’t like me much when she met me. She thought I was a jerk,” he says. “She felt my attitude was very standoffish and defensive. she wasn’t interested in me. Because of her work, she was quite used to meeting famous people, so she wasn’t impressed by that at all. And because I get very involved in my work, I must admit that I didn’t notice her at all. I just never thought about her.
“It wasn’t until we’d met several times and we started talking that I began to get interested in her and found myself enjoying her company. She’s gorgeous looking but it’s really not very important because it’s always there, always available. In this job there’s no end of beautiful women if you want them, but in the end you learn that sex is just sex and it can never be anything more. Making love is very different.
“I’m sure that it’s a situation that very few men can really understand, because so few have the opportunity to have whatever women they want. But that’s the way it is. Promiscuity is a rather self-perpetuating game. You just go round and round circles of girls and it all leads absolutely nowhere.“
Whatever his reputation, George insists that he’s felt this way for quite a time. Meeting Kathy, and the relationship that they have, has merely served to reinforce his sentiments.
“I believe that if you’re sleeping with lots of girls, you don’t develop much as a person. My relationship with Kathy has changed me a lot. I’ve developed. I’ve become more directed and positive. l can concentrate more on my career and the things that are important to me without having the distraction of looking for something.”
Yet even though he says he’s so happy being with Kathy, he is in no great rush to settle down.
“I’ve no intention oi getting married, not for a long time, at least five years. It’s not even something I think about. I believe that marriage is for children, and that’s certainly not something I’m ready for. I’m far too young to consider that.
“I do love children and the idea of having them seems quite attractive, but ‘m not sure that I’m much of a family man. I’m a very private person not just from the media but even people close to me. I’m private within myself.
“That’s one of the reasons why I’ve never lived with a girl. I’m quite difficult to be with after a while. I need to be on my own, I need to be able to shut myself off from everyone.
“That’s something I’m obviously going to have to change before I can settle down, because I can be very difficult to be with. I can even get quite snappy with Kathy it she’s been staying with me for a while.
“I never get to the point where I can’t cope because usually we’re not together for more than about a week, then she goes back to New York and we won’t see each other for another couple of weeks.
“It’s the perfect kind of relationship because it means that the time we have together is very special, I make sure that when I’m with her I’ve got no other commitments so there are no distractions. Yet at the same time there’s never any danger of feeling claustrophobic or penned in, because we’re always going to be flying back to our different homes, wherever we may be.”
When George talks about how much has happened to him, you tend to forget he’s only 24. And he admits that stardom brought about a problem that took a long time to cope with – women. It was difficult to sort out who liked him and who liked his image.
And that changed his attitude towards women. Having put so much importance on looks when he was younger, to his surprise he discovered that they meant very little. “Looks become less valuable when they’re far more available. I’ve had women come over to chat me up who were absolutely gorgeous, but if they fancy what they think you are, rather than you, then it‘s not a turn on. It‘s a turn off.
“It’s really not been at all easy. I’m sure that my fear of publicity and determination to keep things private have spoilt some of my relationships. A lot of girls don’t want to feel as though they’re cooped up in the house. They want a normal relationship.
“I’m lucky with Kathy. She was very uncomfortable about the amount of publicity that resulted from the video we did together. ” he says, referring to the promotional video for his single I Want Your Sex, which was banned for being too steamy.
“I trust her a great deal because she’s very protective about herself as well as me. She’s made it very clear to me that she doesn’t want our relationship to become public property.
“But I’ve learnt to be much more relaxed about publicity. Having a stable personal life helps, but I’ve come to realise there are more important things to worry about.
“That said, I don’t think that anyone could cope with the kind of stuff that Elton John has had thrown at him. That must have been an absolute nightmare. I think he handled it brilliantly and he’s coped very well, but it can’t have been easy for him. I have a lot of respect for Elton and the way he got through the experience.”
It’s for those very reasons, George admits, that he has always been defensive. Yet he knows it’s the price some people have to pay for success.
Besides, almost from the word go girls had been a problem, so why worry now? “I lost my virginity when I was 12,” he recalls. “It was far too young to have sex. I just thought it was horrible and all rather embarrassing. It certainly wasn’t something wanted to happen again in a hurry. When you’re that young it’s confusing and you don’t really know what’s happening.
“When you’re older, you’ve heard all the horror stories about what can go wrong and you’ve got an idea what to expect, so you’re a little bit prepared, but I didn‘t have a clue what was happening. I blocked it out of my mind for the next few years, but it was something that I definitely regretted.
“I wasn’t put off for life, but I wasn’t ready to try it again until I was 15. I don’t think many people’s first sexual experiences are very wonderful. Usually it happens at school parties. I do believe that boys have a much tougher time controlling their sexual urges than girls. I can remember when I was about 14, when sex went from being a big joke to something very serious, and I found myself thinking about it all the time.”
Ironically, for someone who was later to find himself virtually having to fight off the girls. during his teenage years he admits that he was a walking disaster when it came to trying to get himself a date.
“From about the age of 17 or 18 l was ready to fall in love. I felt as romantic then as I do now, yet I just didn’t meet anyone. I felt this tremendous emotional void, all my friends seemed to have girls except for me. The trouble was that they didn’t even look at me twice. I found it all very upsetting and I began to wonder if I’d ever have a girlfriend.”
Then Wham! came along and everything changed. Finding girls was never to be a problem again, just something rather tougher – finding the right one.
But now that he’s got Kathy, it doesn’t even matter any more. It’s all in the past. The dream he wanted came true. He has romance, and he has his girlfriend – whatever the stories may say.
- George Michael’s Interview with the Gay Magazine ‘The Advocate’ (1999)
- An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
- George Michael’s Interview with Gay Times (2007)
- ‘Souled Out: George Michael’ Published in Interview Magazine (1988)
- ‘George Michael, Seriously’ from Rolling Stone Magazine (1988)