Like the chameleon in his iconic ‘80s hit, Boy George has changed style many times during his decades-long career. Unlike a chameleon, he has never blended into the background, but rather stood out in splendid relief. Now, after a brief, forced hiatus, the relentless entertainer is getting ready to reveal yet another facet of his creativity. 

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Boy George will headline Fantabulosa, a new live show that promises to be as unique and undefinable as its own name. The name and concept were pitched to him a few years ago by Amos Pizzey, whom Boy George has known since the early Culture Club days. 

Fantabulosa

 

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“I just love this idea. It’s a celebration of diversity and also music that really kind of shaped, not only my life but other people’s lives. And I’ve had a lot of fun recording songs for this project,” says Boy George. “I think it’s gonna be a real ‘hands in the air celebration’ type show.”

Broadly speaking, the show will be a magical transformation of iconic songs from across time and genres; a sort of queer ear on the classics. 

“I think we want it to be about the music, but there’s always going to be a strong visual element to what I do on stage – because you need everything, I think; it needs to be a kind of 360 experience,” explains Boy George.  “And once you’ve got the music covered – which is so strong – then you can look at how you take people on an emotional journey with the visuals as well.”

Having the likes of Andrew Warboys (Musical Director) and Cameron Mitchell (Stage Director) involved in the production should ensure a pretty spectacular emotional and visual journey. 

Three Aussie Artists To Join Boy George

Courtney Act

Boy George has personally selected three Australian artists to join him on the bill: Mo’Ju, Odette and Courtney Act. 

Mo’Ju is an evocative, un-retreating, award-winning rapper who has earned industry and public respect. Her Wiradjuri/European and Filipino heritage informs an intellectual yet deeply soulful style. Acclaimed releases, Native Tongue, Ghost Town, and O.K., auger well for her upcoming EP. 

Odette is 23 but writes as if she has lived several lives already. Her music is at once minimalist yet intricate; ethereal and acoustic but punctuated with electronic sounds; introspective with intense out-front vocals. New album, Herald, is the impressive follow up to the stunning debut, To a Stranger. 

Mo’Ju and Odette are new discoveries for Boy George and he’s looking forward to learning more about them.

Courtney Act barely needs description. Currently ubiquitous, the multi-disciplinarian is approaching apotheosis. Comic, drag artist, singer, songwriter, activist, presenter, writer, performer – truly one of the most fluid talents Australia has ever produced. 

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“We want to do something dynamic, something that’s visually exciting,” says Boy George about performing with Courtney Act. “I think between us, with the kind of wardrobes we’ve got, we’ll come up with something no problem.”

Strong Queer Flavour

 

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Fantabulosa, as its name might suggest, has a strong queer flavour, and it does seek to acknowledge the contribution of LGBTQI artists and sensibility to universal culture, however, Boy George believes it’s more than that: 

“I like to think that the show is all about including everyone, you know.  I joke that some of my favourite stars are heterosexual, so some of the things that have inspired me are not necessarily completely in a gay pocket, but I would view this as getting more, you know what I mean?…” he says. 

“[It’s about] celebrating the massive changes that have happened in the world and particularly in Australia. There’s been some really big shifts of frequency, and certainly doing The Voice, I felt such a difference in the way that I was received. And sexuality is one small part of the picture.”

Ultimately, the focus in Fantabulosa is on the songs, with an eclectic selection of favourites including Billie Holiday’s ‘The Man I Love’, David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’, George Harrison’s ‘Here Comes the Sun’ being given innovative new treatment. 

A Retrospective Lens

 

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Boy George is also looking to rework hits from his own catalogue, reconsidering them through a retrospective lens.

“How I would approach it now, what would I do with it now, while respecting the melody and the structure of the song,” he explains.  “Obviously I’m a very different person now. When I sing something like ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?’ or ‘Victims’, it’s coming from a different place; coming from a different energy now.”

Boy George says he is a very different performer now, too.

“When I step on stage all I ever try to do is make a connection with the audience, make them feel like they’re totally involved in what I’m doing. I think as I’ve got older, I’ve definitely become more fearless about that. I used to walk on stage and not look at the audience – I would be looking but I wouldn’t be looking. And that has really changed in the last 10 years, where I actually do enjoy making eye-contact with people because I’m not scared of them because I know they love me [chuckles].”

Lockdown Art

 

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Walking on stage is something the singer is looking forward to doing again after spending most of the last two years in lockdown. Not that this Renaissance man was idle in that time. 

“I’ve been able to go back into my craft the way I never could have with my previous schedule […] So having this luxury to really explore the process of writing, lyrics, melody – even the way I sing – I’ve really had a lot of fun doing that.”

He also created artworks and held two exhibitions. He considers all his work as water from the same well.   

“I think music is in everything. I make art and there’s a lot of musicality in the art that I make and I think the clothes I wear are quite lyrical. …I would say that all of those things kind of feed different aspects of my creative self-expression.”

Boy George Returns Down Under

The Fantabulosa shows in March are pilots for what will hopefully become a series of similar shows. It’s also an opportunity for Boy George to once again return Down Under after having done so regularly with The Voice and other projects. 

“When I was doing The Voice, I stayed in some amazing houses and that was beautiful,” says Boy George, who usually stayed in Sydney, although he fondly remembers a week he spent in a beautiful house in Wollongong. “I haven’t seen enough of Australia. I really do need to go to the outback definitely.”

With the pandemic dissipating, things are starting to get very busy again for Boy George, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.  

“I feel like I’ve got a very positive attitude about what I do. I enjoy it in a way that I never did and I think that that’s gotta be something to celebrate. I don’t feel disappointed at all. I’m very, very happy.”

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