PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 May, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 May, 2005, 12:00am


by Boy George and Paul Gorman

Arrow $270

For a flamboyant bloke who led such an interesting life, Boy George has written a remarkably dull memoir. From androgynous 1980s pop star to drug addict, from Broadway showman to world-class DJ, it's not as if George O'Dowd is short of material. Straight, his second book, is more of a collection of thoughts than an autobiography. Although it has entertaining and enlightening moments, it's mostly a self-indulgent ramble interspersed with characters we neither know nor care about. They're introduced - apparently at random - as insubstantially drawn shells whose bitchy and outrageous behaviour should arouse our emotions, but don't.

He's also not above blowing his own trumpet. The chunk of the book devoted to his musical, Taboo, is irrigated by a stream of friends and colleagues saying, 'I thought your songs were wonderful.' The praise would have been stronger with a little more discretion.

His poetry stinks. Third-rate teenage love-angst is best left to besotted sixth-form students, as are the more personal lyrics he treats us to. One gets the feeling there's a lot of teenager left in Boy George. Do adults leave angry songs on ex-lovers' answer machines?

Straight picks up when Boy George talks (separately) about sexuality, music and fame. He's familiar with repressed straight guys who want to flirt and maybe more. He's refreshingly frank about sexual lifestyles, and what it is to be gay, straight or somewhere in between. He laments the contemporary club scene and the direction DJ-ing has taken - the corporate-giant behaviour of the Ministry of Sound and the power of Radio 1 jockeys.

Whether he enjoys being famous is less clear-cut. 'The downside of fame is that it attracts people for the wrong reasons. You create this persona in order to be more attractive and then become pissed off when people are attracted to it.' Poor chap. Why can't people love us for who we are, eh?

Perhaps more understandable and easier to empathise with is his urge to distance himself from the Culture Club years. The 1980s are long gone, and Boy George has moved on. It must be infuriating to have kids come up to you and say 'I won a fancy dress competition dressed as you', or 'You were the inspiration for me to start wearing eyeliner'. No wonder he gets narky.