I work for Boy George
Eileen Schembri is PA to the singer and DJ
After knowing George for 12 years I can almost always tell what he will and won't do, but people, particularly TV people, tend to be persistent with celebrities so you have to be firm with them; if I say no, people know that I mean no.
In this business you just can't afford to let things get you down, especially when you are on call 24/7. I get a lot of calls from fans asking when George is DJ'ing, who then call back half an hour later with exactly the same question, but in a "disguise" voice just to check that I will give them the same answer. I need to be outgoing and lively to cope with this kind of thing.
I work at home and by the time I get up at around eight, there are already many messages and faxes that have built up overnight. I like working at home, travelling is too time-consuming, particularly if you've been working a late night, and to a certain extent it allows me to be my own boss. Also there's certainly no corporate policy to worry about. George and I communicate constantly over the phone and once or twice a week I go to his house. I sometimes work until midnight, and over the weekend 24 hours a day because I travel with George to the clubs where he plays. We drive off to the venue on a Friday night, usually up North, and in the car we go through the paperwork since it's the only quiet time we have together for the requests and payments.
We usually meet up with the promoter for a meal beforehand and if we are in a small town the local press and radio will want time set aside for interviews, which I organise. Once at the club I will supervise any photos being taken of George and fend off the nutters. A club full of strangers can be a bit off-putting, particularly since people tend to treat him as a pop star, clambering around the DJ box and bringing their old Culture Club memorabilia to be signed. But clubbers love the fact that he is both so entertaining and one of the top 10 DJs in the country. For George, DJ'ing is a social thing, he doesn't take drugs, he just likes mixing with people. We wouldn't go to a club that wasn't run on a professional level or where we didn't already know the promoters.
Both of us are workaholics; he won't sit still for a minute and I can't remember the last time either of us had a day off, we simply don't have a lot of time for ourselves. I can't arrange a social life for myself, I don't go to pubs or cinemas and I don't have a lot of time to see my family since my social life revolves around George, but I don't see it as a sacrifice. I've always enjoyed music and nightlife and I'm often going to film premieres and parties with him, whereas if I was working for a bank I would just go home at five-thirty and get bored. Ever since I left school I've been busy, but that's the music industry for you. But I do get perks like travelling abroad and around the UK and meeting a lot of interesting people along the way. As far as celebrities go, mention a name and George has probably met them; at parties people seem to make a beeline for him because he's so recognisable and has a friendly aura.
Being a bit of a worrier I don't like leaving strings untied, so it's difficult for me when it takes George a long time to get back with an answer, I'm often shouting 'George, I need an answer now'. We have lots of arguments but it's a way of clearing the air. If grudges were held I couldn't work with him. A few weeks ago George was DJ'ing in Glasgow and being in his usual rush he chucked his bag in to the back of the space wagon. It wasn't until the cars on the motorway started flashing us that he realised he'd left the boot open and that his bags had disappeared. We rang our hotel and luckily someone had brought the bags back. Now normally George would be screaming at someone, usually me, but this time he had to try to keep his cool because he knew that he had only himself to blame. Who knows what next, there's never any shortage of work with George, so I guess I will carry on working with him until we get fed up with each othern
Interview by Katie Sampson
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