Outrageous English singer/songwriter Boy George lands on The Photo Asylum Throw Back Thursday radar today for one reason, and one reason only. I've decided to include my very provocative photo of him in my South Beach POParazzi gallery series and upcoming show at the Leesburg Center For The Arts in February.
George's androgynous way of dressing, and sexually ambiguous personna became the gender bender equivalent to Madonna's over-the-top Material Girl style. Thousands of Culture Club fans, both boys and girls, dressed like George, both at his shows as well as in everyday life.
Like most of the more popular musical artists, George gave many angst-ridden kids permission to be different.
My run in with George came years after his incredible early popularity had plumetted. It was the early 1990s, nearly a decade after Cutlure Club's smash debut album 'Kissing to Be Clever' had three Top 10 hits in the US.
George was performing as a solo act at South Beach's iconic gay night club, The Warsaw Ballroom, a very small venue for live music, but in this case certainly large enough, and much more likely to attract what was left of his fan base long after he ceased being a mainstream sensation.
Me? I needed to get pictures for a nightlife column.
Now, I remember nothing of the show - which means it was very uneventful - but what happened afterwards wasn't, and it has become one of my favorite South Beach paprazzi stories.
It also led to one of my most memorable candid photos.
Because Warsaw was a realtively small club, and because it was smack dab in the middle of South Beach, I found myself shooting there quite a bit. Which meant I got to know the club owners and promoters.
So, when George's set was over, it was easy getting backstage so I could track him down and get a good close-up shot.
No problem, right?
Things started off fine. I found George in a hallway back behind the main room of the club, introduced myself and asked to get a photo of him.
He was very polite, and calmly looked at me and said:
"Absolutely. I just need to clean up a bit first. I'll be right back! Wait here..."
As he continued down the hallway, disappearing around a corner, I waited, giving him the benefit of the doubt.
I mean, why not? I trust someone until they give me a reason not to.
My early training as a photographer out in the real world was as a photojournalist. Much of my shooting was on the street. Much of it was spontaneous. Thanks to that experience, I've developed a very good sense of when someone is trying to avoid being photographed.
I've also learned how to deal with it...
Less than thirty seconds had gone by when I knew something didn't feel right. I quickly realized what was happening.
He wasn't coming back! He was trying to give me the slip! Dammit!
I immediately ran down the hallway after him, turning the corner and entering a labyrinth that was the backstage area of the club. I still didn't see him, but I knew I had to keep going.
Down another hallway, quickly down a short flight of stairs, through another hallway, turn left, turn right, more stairs.
I wasn't actually lost, but I didn't know precisely where I was going, either. I was running - quite literally - on instinct.
I came to a Fire Exit door, which led out into an alley next to the club. The alley was empty, but from where I was, I could see a small crowd of people out near the street. There really was nowhere else to go, so I ran in that direction.
I got to the main street, Collins Avenue, and now found myself back in front of the club. That's when I saw him. The sneaky bastard was about to get into a waiting limo!
I knew I had but one chance...
My sister Jean and I have the same superpower. We can both yell extremely loud.
But, with great power comes great responsibility, and I rarely use my weapon unless there's a good reason.
This was a good reason...
I stopped and yelled as loud as I could:
It seemed as if all of South Beach stopped what they were doing, and turned to look at me. I didn't care about that, as George stopped and turned to look as well.
I continued to yell:
"That was cold, man! Just give me ONE...FREAKIN'...SHOT!!!"
As he stood there, I finally caught up to him. He just sort of rolled his eyes and sheepishly replied,:
"Ok! But make it quick!"
He smirked, and I snapped. I got my shot. My one shot. And the rest, as they say - and as you can see in his photo above - is history.
Just a reminder - keep watching this blog and my social media posts as I unveil the Boy George image soon!
Were you a Culture Club fan? Any Boy George stories? Be sure to leave any fun details in the comments section below!
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All photos and original content ©Steven Paul Hlavac. All rights reserved.