'A real laugh': Boy George describes his stint as a garbage man

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The Independent Online

The mother of Boy George offered to do his street-cleaning community service in New York, according to the flamboyant pop singer and DJ.

The musician was forced to sweep the streets for five days after he admitted wasting police time by falsely reporting a burglary at his New York apartment. His mother, once a cleaner, offered to do the stint for him, the singer revealed.

He said yesterday: "She gets worried about things and on the first day I called her and I just said, 'Am I bothered?' She asked, 'Who is it?' and I just said, 'Just ask if I'm bothered'."

He spoke of his close relationship to her, and how she was his greatest confidante. "I'm a nightmare, I tell her everything. She still gets shocked by the things I do. My mum wanted to come out and help me. She hears things in the news and people ring her up and tell her, 'Boy George is doing this or that'," he added.

He said one of the most painful aspects of his sentence to clean the streets was the prospect of wearing an unsightly uniform, but that, in the end, he enjoyed the experience. "At first, I thought I would have to wear an orange boilersuit. I don't look good in orange or a boiler-suit with my short legs.

"I was treated really nicely; it was worth it. I quite enjoyed it, really. I was pissed off to start with but people were jumping out of manholes to see me and being really nice. So many people came to see me. The trick is just to do your job. You get tea-breaks and stuff. It can be a real laugh. New York is so clean now you could eat your dinner off its streets. I'll do London next, but I'll charge this time."

The pop star was launching his comeback song at the Met Bar in central London, where he performed a duet, "Time Machine", which is his first commercial single in eight years.

Boy George, best known as the former lead singer in the 1980s band, Culture Club, last month spoke about how the community service had helped to ground his chaotic lifestyle.

"The media has this image of me as this big faggot sitting on cushions all day eating grapes. But I'm a real person; I have a Hoover, I don't have a cleaner. So the idea that I can't pick up a broom and shovel is ridiculous. The hard work was good for me."

Last year, he had reported a burglary but police officers found no sign of a break-in, instead discovering near-empty bags of cocaine around his apartment. George admitted wasting police time and the drug charge was dropped.

He was sent into rehab, and fined a total of £600. Judge Anthony Ferrara told him that cleaning the streets would be "either an exercise in humiliation or humility. You decide".