Bad news for one of England's most famous gay artists last week as Boy George was convicted in a much publicized—and genuinely scandalous—court case. This was hardly the 80s pop singer's first brush with the law, though this will be the first conviction to carry a jail sentence. Get the low-down on George's past, present, and future, as the gay community reacts to his latest calamity.
George was convicted on false imprisonment and assault charges. The case involved a Norwegian gay escort, Audun Carlsen, who was invited to George's East London apartment in April of 2007 for an explicit photo shoot. During the course of the night, according to Audun's testimony, "George said he was popping out for milk at five AM. I heard him come back and I walked into his bedroom wearing just my T-shirt. I was jumped on by George and another man. George handcuffed me to a hook by the bed as they held me down." At this point, Audun said, the pop singer produced a box of sex toys and said, "Now you'll get what you deserve." Terrified, the escort tore the hooks out of the wall and bolted for the door, at which point, he claims, George swung a metal chain at him. "It's ironic that his biggest hit was Do You Really Want To Hurt Me," Audun said, "because I'm sure he did want to hurt me. I was convinced I was going to die."
George's defence centered on a claim that the escort had gone into the singer's laptop to steal photos from a previous encounter between the two. Though George did not testify at his own trial, the prosecution played tapes of a police interview in which the singer said, "He [Audun} was so smug and was lying, saying 'It wasn't me'. I asked him to come (to my apartment) because I wanted to find out if this guy had borrowed my stuff.... He struggled a bit... because he realized I wasn't messing around. I didn't tell him the reason I was doing what I was doing. I said I just wanted to check something. He was saying: 'Let me go'." According to George, the accomplice was enlisted to ensure that Audun did not get away while they checked the computer and his phone for the photos.
The pop star's current troubles represent an escalation in a long string of run-ins with the law, primarily centering on drugs. In July of 1986, Boy George was arrested on heroin possession charges as part of "Operation Culture", a multi-house raid of members and friends of George's band Culture Club. In that same year, occasional Culture Club keyboardist Michael Rudetsky was found dead of a heroin overdose at George's London home, and club friend Mark Vaultier died of a Methadone and Valium overdose after being arrested with George earlier in the day for marijuana possession. As George describes Vaultier's death in his autobiography, Straight (Random House, 2007), "Apparently [Mark] felt guilty about my arrest, because he had attracted the attention of the police in the first place, which only added to my sadness and deep sense of loss."
Until the current legal debacle, George's most famous police encounter occurred when the singer called 911 to report a burglary at his New York apartment in October of 2005. The reporting officers discovered a small bag of cocaine next to the computer in the apartment, and arrested the singer on possession charges. A thorough search revealed a further dozen bags of illegal drugs, though George claimed none of them were his. After receiving a warrant for failing to appear for a scheduled court date, George was finally sentenced to pick up garbage for the department of sanitation for, as the court stated, "wasting police time" with a false burglary call. A media frenzy ensued, and George was allowed to do his community service on the grounds of the Sanitation Department in order to keep the peace.
This time, the solution is likely to be less public, and more draconian. The presiding judge in the false imprisonment case has indicated that jail is probably forthcoming, with the delicate statement that, "This is a case where custody is the more likely option." After many brushes with the law, it appears that Boy George will finally do some hard time.