Watch the video and read the transcript of the interview of George Michael at the Graham Norton show broadcasted on February 28, 2003 in Channel 4 UK.
(Intro: Club Tropicana playing in the background)
Graham Norton: Hello everyone! Hi! I’m in Club Tropicana.
I’ve finished a screaming orgasm. Now I think I’m in a slow comfortable screw. (Looking behind him) Don’t think I ordered them for room service (Referring to 2 women behind him in bikinis)
Quite cold in Club Tropicana ain’t it? I love it here. I’m on a 18 to 30 holiday … I booked it LAST CHRISTMAS. I just got a new travel agent, and WHAM, here I am. I got to have FAITH in me. Can’t go anywhere without hearing “You got to have Faith.”
Actually, we made a little mess on the plane with my chocolate bar. Yes, I was Careless with my Whisper.
Ladies and Gentlemen: it’s GEORGE MICHAEL!!!!!
(George makes his intro, he is escorted by 2 beefcake dancers …. with “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me” playing in the background….)
(George and Graham share a hug…)
(Applause, applause, applause)
Graham Norton: Welcome, George Michael!
George Michael: Thank you.
Graham Norton: How are you?
George Michael: I’m very well thank you.
Graham Norton: Yes, very good. Now, you got loads of projects at the moment, we’re going to talk about them later, but…
George Michael: I don’t like to call them projects. I got loads going on, yes…
Graham Norton: Loads going on.. If you will indulge me ..
George Michael: uh huh
Graham Norton: If we could talk about WHAM for a while.
(Laughter in the audience)
George Michael: Actually I’m perfectly happy about it. I would love to talk about WHAM. I’ve had such a big heavy week of talking about all kinds of things that I would rather not talk about. This would be a light relief.
Graham Norton: Well, It is in fairness, WHAM…Wham I nearly did, But no I didn’t…
Graham Norton: The whole WHAM thing, so it started in school, it started with Andrew Ridgeley. He’s the popular boy. You not so popular boy.
George Michael: Me? Well, I suppose I wasn’t unpopular. I was just not very….you know you are popular if you are cool at school. I wasn’t very cool. I was just a little thing with glasses and curly hair.
(Audience goes awwwwwwwwwww)
George Michael: Not much going on really. But I had a lovely personality.
Graham Norton: Of course ya did.!! Recently, Obviously, we have come across your political side. It strikes me early on, very political, and this is true when I was at University…WHAM RAP…
George Michael: Are you about to take the fifth?
(Graham Norton is reading this off a note card)
Graham Norton: WHAM RAP…its so political it is WHAM bam
I am a man
Job or no job
You can tell me I am not
I may not have a job
But I have a good time with
(George joins in) “the boys I met down on the line”
Graham Norton: I say DHSS…man….
(George is laughing hysterically with his hand over his face)
Graham Norton: You can do your very best
B1, B2, all make the claims
On your name, all that you have to do
George Michael: It’s amazing isn’t it. It’s amazing that before no one has before understood the genius of that lyric
Graham Norton: I’m sort of joking, but I’m sort of serious.
George Michael: Its very much based on Andrew’s lifestyle. The idea of living off the state. When really you knew your mother is a teacher and your father works at cannon. And you have a perfectly healthy life at home, and they are not making you put anything towards the housekeeping. But you go off and you get your money every week. He loved it. So that’s what we wrote about. The idea of kids trying to do that now…. it’s just, ludicrous.
Graham Norton: Yeah, I don’t think a moving tribute to the DHSS would do that well now.
George Michael: No, I don’t think so.
Graham Norton: They changed the name for one. I was reading .. I was reading, of course, your book: George Michael BARE. Some of the subjects, some of the chapters.
George Michael: BARE what a complete load…. It’s not that is it’s badly written by the way. Tony Parsons did a good job reading it. But what, BARE MY ASS!!!!, Do you know what I mean?
Graham Norton: I didn’t even ask!!
George Michael: Do you know what I’m saying? I mean it says, BARE, and it’s like I’m 24 or 25 and absolutely, so all that happened to me by then. The next one is going to be..
Graham Norton: Chapter 3: A Very Early Masturbator
George Michael: Of course! What a unique experience.
Graham Norton: This book obviously came out before you did but..
George Michael: Smiling.. Ohh, very good! (clapping)
Graham Norton: It wasn’t even a joke. At the same time, though, it wasn’t like old kinda your life is a fiction. When you were with Wham!, you were shagging girls.
George Michael: Uh Huh. Absolutely. Well, you would, wouldn’t you? You have so much opportunity there. Well, its true isn’t it?!
Graham Norton: You got to give it a go. Obviously, you can’t come on this show like without mentioning the wanking of the toilet thing!!
George Michael: Which wanking in the toilet? Which one?
Graham Norton: The arresting..
George Michael: Oh, of course, that one … the time I got caught you mean.
Graham Norton: Yeah, that one!!
Graham Norton: I think this is the thing. This is the thing. Basically, the way you talk about it, it is that you are unapologetic about it. And you didn’t go into hiding. You didn’t draw the curtains. Was it the next night you were out in a restaurant in LA having dinner?
George Michael: Yeah, absolutely, Well, what’s to apologize for? You know I’m a gay man. At the time I was like 36 years old. To be perfectly honest, it was a lovely park.
George Michael: Actually you know what, that’s one of the things I thought that was so funny. One of my relatives said to me “Oh, it was a lovely park though.”
Graham Norton: What is weird, I’ve been in that toilet.
George Michael: You have since?
Graham Norton: Yeah, since.
George Michael: Cause I’ve heard that Elton’s signature is in there somewhere
George Michael: I believe that as well. That would be just like him.
Graham Norton: Oh, but go in, you go in, and it is so clean. It’s a lovely toilet.
George Michael: Well exactly, it’s a lovely toilet.
Graham Norton: Very spacious cubicle
George Michael: And I have to tell you .. I have to tell you. Opposite of the Beverly Hills Hotel, the talent is not exactly shabby, do you know what I mean? Hollywood is probably is the best concentration of fantastic looking gay men in the world. I’m not saying I would do it again. It was a stupid thing to do. And actually I kinda think I did it, I think I was that blatant because I was in such a state. In retrospect, I really think I did it to myself. But at the time, it took me months to admit that to myself.
Graham Norton: Yeah… (Looking to the audience) they (the audience) are laughing (at you) thinking “Yeah, he did it to himself…heh heh”
George Michael: To be honest, you know, I think to some degree the way I dealt with it meant it was not reall a problem. And I think…. If I’m perfectly, if I’m perfectly, perfectly honest … outside of my career, I’ve had a terrible run of luck that started about 10 years ago. I’ve watched a partner die. I’ve watched my mother die. Just after that, I went to see a back surgeon who told me that if I didn’t have 2 vertebrae removed within the next 6 months to a year that I could be paralyzed. So you just learn to have a different perspective. I didn’t give a toss if people have a real problem with me, you know.
George Michael: Thank you. I have a different perspective on life. I lost a lot of great things, but I still have a lot of incredible things. And the press does not really enter to it.
Graham Norton: Were going to talk about some of those things in the second part. Thinking about your videos, over the years, they have always been out there, your videos. Inspired by that, we asked our audience to see if they could create their own videos, using this show’s theme tune. Now, it was extremely difficult to choose the best ones, and I really mean that…
Graham Norton: We just got a few to look at before the break. So come over to this screen. Now, ehh, where is the first one, Dan? Where’s Dan? Dan has the first video and has weird links to your Outside video.
George Michael: Oh dear …
Graham Norton: Now I have seen this. And frankly Dan, it’s inexplicable. I may ask you some questions afterward. But for now, relax and enjoy Dan Smith in his video. Here we go..
(Video is shown of Dan, in a Greek-like toga outfit, dancing outside the local police station)
Graham Norton: All right, Dan the obvious question, Are you a policeman?
Dan: No I’m not a policeman, no.
Graham Norton: But that is a real police station?
Dan: That is a real police station.
Graham Norton: Were you arrested?
Dan: No they said I could actually do it.
Graham Norton: They didn’t mind? … Quite relaxed… Obviously crime rate is quite low.
Graham Norton: Now, big group lads now … where is Mike Taylor, Michael Wood, Andrew Camp, Phillip Potter, where are they?
4 Guys: HERE!
Graham Norton: It’s like a very Early Eurovision entry. This is genius. Lay your eyes on Mike, Michael, Andrew, and Phillip.
(Video is shown of all 4 of them, dressing up in tuxedoes, dancing in a synchronized way)
Graham Norton: Listen there is a little prize here. Should we give it to them?
Graham Norton: Lads well done. Courtesy of our lovely friends travelscene.co.uk you are off on Euro star for a long week in Brussels. There you go! That’s it! Join us after the break, when George will be giving us a very special performance.
Graham Norton: Welcome back, I’m here with the lovely George Michael. Ladies and gentlemen!
Graham Norton: Now we found a website.
George Michael: Oh I love this bit, I really like this bit.
Graham Norton: Well you can’t …some one said you can’t show them to everyone.
George Michael: You can show just about everything to me.
Graham Norton: That’s what we thought. We’re not suggesting you need this product at all. That’s what I’m going at.
George Michael: This product. Now it’s getting ominous.
Graham Norton: It’s a product. Now I think its best we see the product first. Right. Here is the product. Yes, that’s it.
(Graham has product in hand, showing all)
Graham Norton: Good game show, this is called what’s that? It could be anything. It could be straightening hair. Can you guess what it is?
George Michael: Give it to me for a second. Let me have a look.
(Gives George the product)
George Michael: I’ve never going to guess right? Is it something really foul?
Graham Norton: yes
Graham Norton: it’s not really that foul; it’s just unlikely.
George Michael: It’s not supposed to bring anybody any kind of pleasure?
Graham Norton: Well yes, sort of, ultimately it might.
George Michael: I would have thought, it’s just some kind of way, of painting a room twice as fast.
(George demonstrates to the audience how he paints with the object)
Graham Norton: Well I’m sure that is another use for it. I’m sure they will bring it out selling it as that.
(Graham Norton..shows website where the product comes from)
Graham Norton: But for right now they are selling this as a penis enlarger
(George and audience laugh)
Graham Norton: (referring to website now) Now see he already needs it. Does he?!! But anyway there you go.
(Graham scrolls down the website)
Graham Norton: I love that click to enlarge…
Graham Norton: … There is, here he is, using it, he put it on the top, you roll it down….
(Audience goes: ooooohhhhh eeeeeewwwwww)
George Michael: What I don’t understand is … Is it supposed to enlarge it over time or something?
Graham Norton: It supposed to, but essentially it’s just a wanking tool isn’t it?! Nothing is happening. You just have a little wank. And paint the spare bedroom.
Graham Norton: Over the years, you have become a political being. When did that start? Did that happen after the arrest? Cause it seems suddenly you were politically more vocal after the arrest
George Michael: Uhh I think if I’m really honest with myself. If I’m really honest with myself, I don’t think I can be this outspoken about other things if I was worried about my privacy being invaded in the way I was years ago. There’s nothing of it left now, so what do I have to lose, really? I’ve been quite a political person for a very long time actually. I just didn’t really see the need to mix the two things. Right now I think there is a just need to anyone who can do exactly that. Also, I think it has something to do with meeting Kenny. Not to think that Kenny is incredibly politically minded..
Graham Norton: Kenny your boyfriend.
George Michael: Yeah, my boyfriend of 7 years now. I think that when you are lonely, if you are very lonely, you have the capacity to be self-obsessed in a way that I think that once you are sharing your life with someone properly, I think, on top of the aging process, I think you just start to look outward a little more when you’re not just searching for someone to fill a void in your life. And I suppose that is part of it. Also, my mother dying. I suppose I probably wouldn’t do this if my mother was alive because I knew she would worry for me.
Graham Norton: Thing is like when you did Shoot The Dog video, where it was funny…but you were taking a piss out of Blair and Bush. Big backlash in America. New York Post called you a pervert, everything.
George Michael: Oh no, a “washed up pervert”
Graham Norton: a “washed up pervert”?
George Michael: yep
Graham Norton: Mmmmm … Are you worried about that? That your record sales in America have.
George Michael: Well I gave up my record sales in American in the late 80’s. You can’t sell records in America without going there and promoting it. It’s just not possible. Anyone will tell you that: whether you are starting out or whether you’ve been successful for years and years. If you are not on television in America (England is going to be eventually like that) but if you are not on TV in America, you just don’t exist. So once I decided I’ve had enough of that kind … oh. I was the biggest artist in America for about a year. I had a number one album for 2 Christmases in a row, the same album. Which was quite …
George Michael: (Laughing, tells the audience.) It was a long time ago. But what I’m am saying is that it was an extreme phenomenon for me. I, especially being on my own, out of WHAM, and not with Andrew to keep me company anymore, it was a very extreme phenomenon. And I experienced at the age of 24, the full force of what it is to be a celebrity in America. And decided very quickly that that was not what I wanted. I like American people. I have traveled the world many times and I have found American people some of the friendliest and warmest. And I have had 3 relationships with Americans. So I think anyone who has the slightest intelligence that to be anti this American administration.
(George gives the audience a thumb’s up)
George Michael: Right now we are not connected with our Administration. 90% of us are saying no. They are saying yes. They are not representing us. I think absolutely Bush doesn’t represent the majority of good meaning people in America.
Graham Norton: Now you are going to do a special performance in a second of a Don McLean song.
George Michael: Yes, it’s an old Don McLean song that I heard when I was 7 years old. It came out in 1970 which was when the protest for Vietnam was ..well actually Vietnam didn’t stop until ’74, did it? So they were there in the middle of all that protest stuff. And the same album that had American Pie and Vincent on it, or Starry, Starry Nights as it is commonly known. It has a track at the end of it which was a protest song. Even though I was 7, it totally and utterly made an impact on me as to the terror of war and what the actual reality of it was. And I think that is incredibly powerful if you can reach children with words like that. Ultimately, I think that says a lot of what music is for. It occurred to me the other day I could play this song. Live here tonight. And the idea of something so early in my life and so important really was a cornerstone of the way I viewed war. To get the privilege to sing it in this situation and try to help others see what war for what it is; it’s amazing.
Graham Norton: It is a very hard hitting song.
George Michael: It’s a powerful song. I would absolutely … Two things I would like to say before I sing do it. One: is I would like for Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush –as though Mr. Bush is going to hear this, ya know? Trying to talk Mr. Bush out of this war is a bit like trying to teach John Wayne to eat tofu, you know. He’s very keen, indeed. But I don’t think it’s too late. Maybe Mr. Blair is listening. And I would ask Mr. Blair to try and consider this song and imagine as someone—well actually neither of them have seen any active service—but both of them probably should have it would be great if either one of them could hear this song and understand what exactly they are asking people to do for them.
Graham Norton: Thank you so much for coming along. And if you would like to go and get ready. Ladies and gentlemen, George Michael! … I’ll leave you now with George and “The Grave”
(George sings The Grave)
- An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
- Wham!’s Last Week, Smash Hit Magazine (July 1986)
- ‘Souled Out: George Michael’ Published in Interview Magazine (1988)
- George Michael Interview in Blitz Magazine (June 1988)
- George Michael in Q Magazine Interview (October 1990)