It was autumn 1982 when Culture Club hit the charts with “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me“ (#1 in 23 countries), the third single off their debut album “Kissing To Be Clever”. I was 10 years old and every Saturday afternoon I was listening to the weekly chart countdown from the local radio station. I remember being excited all along: which song would be #1 of the week? I always put my bets on my favorite songs and was disappointed when they moved the wrong way in the charts. I sat on my bed in my room with my cassette/radio player in front of me and recorded the songs I liked on cassette, trying to time the recording so that the talk of the DJ would not go on tape.
I spent my allowance on music magazines that had posters on the middle pages. My father put up wooden rails on the wall in my room so that I would not damage the wallpaper with the adhesive tape. The posters I liked the most were of Michael Jackson and Boy George. Soon they were to be joined by Limahl, Madonna and Wham! on my poster wall.
I remember thinking that Boy George looked really beautiful with his long hair and colorful makeup. It was the beginning of the 80s and men/boys in showbiz wearing makeup was normal to a certain extent. At that time my friend and I had started discussing makeup and hairdos, and we found that Boy George really knew how to use dramatic eye shadow and rouge. We were both quite impressed by his skills. Not a single moment did we find it weird or over the top that a man would look like that. And that is what I love so much about children: as a basis ingenious with no prejudices.
I remember my father shaking his head with indignation at a comment I made about Boy George’s great looks. He didn’t say anything but I felt his objection. A few years later a famous female musician said on primetime national TV that she would love and sleep with men and women, that to her the sex didn’t matter. My father jumped up from his chair and turned the TV off in rage. I guess I finally got his point about Boy George.
Later I was to learn that everything off norm was not very welcome in the small town I grew up in. When I came back from London in 1989 with a mohawk hairstyle, black clothes and a tattoo, people would yell at me in the street. It really hurt my feelings but also made me furious and tremendously stubborn. These hillbilly idiots would never get the chance to dictate anything to me. How could they judge me without even knowing who I was?
Looking back I could have made the last years I spent in my home town a lot easier for myself. I put myself in the off with my looks and my attitude. But I couldn’t help it; nothing in the world could have made me leave the road I was heading for.
Let’s all go back to 1982 with this great song:
And here an homage to the former boys and girl who managed to stay true to themselves in small towns all over the world: