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понедельник, 26 декабря 2016 г.

George Michael: the man orchestra (interview)

In 2011, Paris Match had met George Michael. He was about to go on stage with a symphony orchestra.

Paris Match. What audience do you think you can touch during this tour with a symphony orchestra? 
George Michael. I went to John Barry's tribute concert at the Royal Albert Hall. In principle, when one recognizes me, a small tail is formed and I sign autographs. The "crowd" party, a charming lady came to approach me. She said, "My dear, many friends have asked me to give them my tickets to your concerts. I do not know, and I'll come. "She was 75 years old. Here. I'll have fans of another age.
You have programmed 47 concert dates, or you do not like touring ...
No, but I like to play. The last, after seventeen years without having played in public, lasted three months, it lasted three years. I was having fun. It is no longer as in the time of the success of "Faith", I arrived in rooms that knew me for twenty-five years. I was stunned and happy. And even if I'm not a stand-up comedian, I'll talk between the pieces, I'll give my version of the songs, my mood, I'll talk more, I'll make the atmosphere special. This tour is the most exciting for me since the premiere with Wham!


Other pop stars you used symphony orchestras, for rather tacky results ... How to avoid it? 
I know what I do not want: a sacred version of my previous albums. It's a trap, I have a lot of songs "borderline" in my repertoire. But if another interpreted "Wake me up before you go", it would be awful. This song has become a hymn all over the world to describe the cheesy. It's also a great record! When people asked me how I would overcome this, I would say, "You will dance about it at the marriages of friends in twenty years." I was right. Same for "Last Christmas", I sang like a girl, what was needed for the piece. It was certainly incredibly nerdy, but it worked because there was some heart. Without my performance, these songs are almost pathetic. I realize that.
You have another project, a dance album ...
It will be very gay. I've been out of the closet for sixteen years. Before this coming out, people thought I was hiding, yet when I went out to the restaurant with my first companion, Anselmo, it was obvious. Soon, I introduced Anselmo to Tommy Mottola, the boss of my record company, Sony. I was naive, because presenting the love of my life to one of the greatest homophobes I know was a time bomb. Once you are "out," you are considered a gay artist. But today it's time to talk about my life. I have always done it, but in terms of my relationships, "Fast Love" in particular. I want to talk about all the gay stereotypes. Many will be shocked, will not love. The activist is no longer sexy at all, many prefer to consume, dance and party. We have become apolitical ... Well, there will be sex and humor, and I hope those who do not want to listen to songs about bondage will dance anyway.


But the days of Wham!, Your look is not confusing about your sexual preferences ...
It's different. If you look at the bands of the 80s, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, they looked as gay as Wham! With Andrew, we had pushed the line thoroughly because he and I knew that the prepubescent teenagers, our audience, did not want to see testosterone. I remember in 1984, at the Beacon Theater, the feeling of horror of the first three rows of girls when they saw my beard! They almost stopped shouting. Wham! Played naively with gay imagery. But I was the only one.

Thirty years after the appearance of AIDS, twenty years after the death of Freddie Mercury, what do you think of the situation today? 
I lost my partner in 1993, died of AIDS, a year before the access to the tritherapies. If he had lived another twelve months, he might be alive today ... Apart from the benefits of this therapy, young people today are less concerned, they think that this will never happen to them They will be on medication all their lives. It's pitiful. My generation had not asked any questions, we put on hoods right away. Homosexuals protect themselves less, so they are more exposed to all sorts of diseases and the Internet offers an incredible choice of sexual partners, believe me!
If you were to meet young George Michael today, what advice would you give him? 
Get rid of your hair dryer! My real advice would be this: do not sell yourself as a sexual object. If I had not played on this sexy man image, I would have been much happier. I did not know how to act as a homosexual that thousands of women found attractive ... It is very flattering, but it caused tons of problems, especially with the tabloids. Give me another gay that the press loves to dissect the sex life.
... Rupert Everett, at one time? 
Yes, there have always been rumors ... It is the only homo as frank as me. But he, unlike me, and without wishing to offend him, did not have a large proportion of women fans. It is appreciated as an actor. And this female audience did not disappear once "out."

"I want the entire gay community to be recognized in my dance album"

Because women love gays! 
Some like the inaccessible. I know from experience. I was honest with them, thinking this would put an end to relationships. It was not, I had to do it. It's strange to sing as a gay ... before crowds of screaming girls, well no, it's less the case ... During the previous tour, it was 50-50, with the gays. Except in England, they are so spoiled children that they do not get up as early as women! They run to buy the tickets while the men stay in bed.
You always describe yourself as gay. Is that the only thing that defines you? 
I compensate, this country is so Victorian! The bulk of the dominant English male subculture is gay. I want people to understand the whole community. My album dance will evoke all these aspects. I want old people, young people, teenagers to recognize each other. Myself, I have no memory of an attraction for men before I was 14 years old. The first time is because a guy made me advances and I thought it was a girl!
In the 1980s, George Michael managed to impose his style and music. In 1988, Match went to meet this "white rocker" who still kept his sexuality secret and was ready to meet all the challenges. 

Under the caress of the dusk of Tropez, he keeps his glasses black. Below the terrace, the stone-size swimming pool sparkles as in a painting by Hockney. Behind us, the staff of the tour - blond secretaries in leather mini-skirts, bodyguards to the muscles of wrestlers - gently babbles while waiting for his orders. Since his first visit to Saint Tropez, he has learned a great deal. He receives us in "Villa One" where his team lives, but he lives in a mysterious "Villa Two" lost in the pine forest. He wears stiffened santiags, skinny jeans, a polo shirt. Plus this eternal beard of three days, carefully maintained for almost a year. Sound of ice cubes in a glass of "Diet Coke" Hollywood smile ... Behind the mercury reflection of these convex glasses hiding George Michael , 24, the gifted British rock, the only white artist who competes with the two black giants , Michael Jackson and Prince. His album "Faith" - "Faith" - has already sold 12 million copies; His tube "I want your sex" - made a hit in all the charts of the world; And he continues this week in France a planetary tour of 138 concerts that is expected to attract more than 2 million fans envoûtés. It is in English that George Michael answers the questions of "Paris Match".
Paris Match. Why "Faith" as the title of the album?
George Michael. Because I believe, today much more than during my adolescence. I believe that the forces of Good and Evil are real things.

PM Is it a religious feeling?
GM I have no religion, but I think we can influence his life, his future, through faith and decency toward others.
SME does this mean that before you had problems of faith in yourself, trust?
GM Not really. I had problems identifying my own identity. The success of "Wham! (His first group) intervened very early in my life. I was 18, I had just left school, when it all began. This is extreme. For four years, I did not have time to form my identity. The public dictated who I was. So I had to step back. Stop the group. Make the point.
PMA 14 years old you were fat and wearing glasses. You were shy at the time?
GM I've never been shy. I was not very nice, but I knew that if there was little chance that the girls interested in me sexually, they liked me for my energy, my ideas, my music ... 

PMAlways about faith, do you also believe the people around you? Does not your success undermine your relations?
GM Honesty is a rare commodity in our profession. Let's say that the people I truly trust can be counted with two hands. With one or two exceptions, these are people in whom I have believed all my life: my family and three childhood friends.
PMYou are afraid of star illness, schizophrenia and paranoia?
GM No. Even if the danger is obvious, there are ways to avoid it.

"The press always presented me like a brainless pussy"

PM In the "Wham!" Time, the majority of the rock scene and the audience saw you as a rather sanitized bellast. Have you suffered?
GM lot. This is one of the reasons why I felt the need to isolate myself for a year. The press constantly presented me as a brainless kitty. Everywhere I went, I had to prove that I was not stupid.

George Michael on stage in 1988© SYNDICATE INTERNATI / SIPA
PM It must be said that in the video of "Wake me up before you go-go", the biggest tube of "Wham! "You danced in tight shorts, white tee-shirt, oxygenated hair, sparkling smile ... Almost a pub for mineral water!
GM Today I do not understand who this "fop". I think I got this idea by provocation. It was the era of shaggy punk, so we started in a totally opposite direction. It took courage at that time to play the twinks in good health. We did this to laugh, but people did not laugh. On the contrary. This image has rather altered my musical credibility.
PM It's hard to be a sex symbol?

GM There are ups and downs. What flirts me the cockroach is that in the minds of people my sexy look has always opposed purely musical recognition.
PM But you can be both recognized as a sex symbol and a great musician. For example, Prince.

GM Prince is a sex symbol subversive. Not me. My image is conventional, I am "straight". Because of this, we forget that for six years I have written more pop tubes than anyone.
PMYou can have all the girls you want?
GM Most, anyway. This is not really a reason for satisfaction, you know. Being rich and famous, it is 90% of seduction in these cases. It would be almost the same if I had a horse's head.

PMIn "I want your sex", you say that sex is better by staying faithful to the same person. Have you become monogamous?
GM Yes. I am faithful. I wish a relationship that lasts, even if I need to take off regularly to find myself alone.
PM Fidelity to marriage?
GM I did not need a piece of paper. Marriage is important when you want children, and I certainly will not have children in the near future.
PMYou told me that you had once dreamed that you were a gigolo in New York. Is that your hidden fantasy?
GM No. Rather a nightmare. Being a gigolo is what I have lived for six years, if one pushes to the extreme. A woman who pays a gigolo, she uses it without taking into account for a moment his feelings. That's why I stopped sleeping right and left. I too was used.

"I'd be crazy to say I'm homosexual"

PMA the era of "Wham! ", The English popular press claimed that you were a homosexual. If you were, you would say so?
GM I'd be crazy to say, do not you think? But I would not deny it either. Because defending myself would mean that I would be ashamed if that were true. Now, I have a lot of bi or homosexual friends, and I believe in free choice in this field. But above all, I think that these questions do not need to be, that it is a violation of intimacy. That's why I do not confirm or dispute any rumors about my privacy.

George Michael had a look that did not go unnoticed.© PA Photos / ABACA
PM Does not a star have duties to her audience?
GM Exactly in some areas. But when you close the door of your room, it's over.

PM "I want your sex" became a worldwide hit at a time when all the TVs in the world were broadcasting a campaign on AIDS. Is there a report?
GM The song tells that I desperately want to make love with someone, but that someone refuses me and I'm holding on because I'm actually want. The story is true, and it's not an evening adventure. So to get back to AIDS, it is true nowadays that many people want to hide sex again under the carpet. It is a mistake. Teens are told that sex is forbidden, whereas it is a necessity for them. Ok for condoms, but most importantly avoid making them believe that sex is again, as before contraception, bad and dangerous. Sex is great. Even if, in the present times, we must attenuate the taste for diversity to choose one and the same partner. That's what I sing in my album.
PMYou canceled several concerts in Northern Europe a month ago. The English press, always she, announced to the one that the malaise came from a consumption of cocaine.
GM Wrong. This tour, for me, is total sobriety. I stopped smoking a year and a half ago for my voice. When we are relaxing, between concerts, I do not go out to drink or party with others, always to preserve my voice. I have never been so clean in my life!

In your opinion, is there a moderate use of drugs?
GM No. It's a trap.

"France is the only country in Europe with which I feel real affinities"

PMLe 11 June, you play in a "benefit concert" for the 70 years of Nelson Mandela, the black leader imprisoned South African. Do these charity concerts, multiplied since the one you gave for Ethiopia, "Band Aid", are still credible?
GM I refused many proposals of this kind because it was blows to revive showbiz artists down. This concert will be different. The problem of apartheid must be discussed. Two years ago, I broke my contract with an agent because his business was bought out by a South African company. I'm against. 
PMYou resold shares purchased by your businessman when you learned that the company chosen was an American weapons factory. Are you a pacifist?
GM Definitely. At 100%. But I also think that an artist must do his job, not politics.
PMReceived a studio in front of an American flag. Are you going to leave England?
GM In the picture you speak of, the flag is half American, half English. That's how I feel. Transatlantic. For the past three years, I have been going back and forth. This is perceptible in the sound of the album, halfway between American funk and English rock. But I will not immigrate to the United States. I remain very English.

PMYou believe in Europe?
GM No. France is the only country in Europe with which I feel real affinities. For me, the Europe of 1992 is a mental alienation. It is very sad to want to dilute all these cultures to claim that Europe is one great continent.
Can you dance to Greek music with glasses on your head, like your father, born in Cyprus?
GM Alas! no. I never tried, by the way. It has been 6 or 7 years since I attended a Greek wedding.
Do you go to Cyprus sometimes?
GM I have not been there for 4 years. Too difficult: I am the biggest export product Cyprus ever had. They do not leave me alone for a second.
PMYou never wear your glasses. Is it for aesthetics?
GM course. My real glasses are of a very thick glass. I wear them since the age of 7 years. If I had kept them, instead of choosing lenses, I do not think George Michael's career would have existed. If I arrived at a press conference with my short-sighted glasses, it would probably have the same effect as if I appeared naked in front of the cameras.
PMYou still remember when you were playing in the subway?
GM is very clear.
PMYou were happy?
GM Obviously I was happy! When you are 16, something always happens.
Is it possible for a rock star to retain the spontaneity of his 16 years?
GM I have never been particularly spontaneous. Some people criticize me for that. I do not want to defend myself. My talent is different: I feel artisan, goldsmith ... Especially not spontaneous.

PMYou once said that success was not the most important thing. So what is the ultimate goal?
GM Lead a happy life. But I also have a lot of ambition. An ambition sometimes blind. I will try to leave the front of the stage soon enough, before the public will drive me out. It happened to so many stars, in music 

George Michael died at age 53 for reasons yet to be determined. In the 1980s, the British singer had imposed his style, quickly becoming a legend. 

George Michael, who just died at age 53, was an idol of teenagers in the 1980s who became a world superstar, a singer and songwriter whose sweet melodies hid a tormented personal life, between drug problems and sentimental ruptures. First in the boy band Wham! Then solo, he composed among the greatest musical successes of the 1980s, including "Careless Whisper" and "Faith", selling more than 100 million albums in almost four decades.

In recent years, he showed little publicity, more frequently cited in the press for drug-related incidents than for his music. George Michael, who publicly disclosed his homosexuality in 1998 after being arrested for indecent assault in public toilets in Los Angeles (USA), assumed his complicated privacy. "People want to see me as a tragic character, having sex in public toilets and taking drugs," but "I do not even see it as weaknesses, it's just what I am," he said, He told the British daily Guardian in 2009.

King of the world

George Michael was born Georgius Kyriacos Panayiotou, a Greek Cypriot father and an English mother, in London in 1963. With Andrew Ridgeley, he created the band Wham! In 1981. Appearance neat, permanent tan, hairy puffy hair and hedonistic image, Wham! Captured the spirit of the time, quickly becoming one of the biggest British bands, with hits like "Club Tropicana" and "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go". Success became planetary and in 1985, Wham! Was the first Western group to perform in China.
After four singles ranked number one in Britain, Wham! Implanted in 1986 and George Michael launches solo, targeting a more adult audience. His first album, "Faith" (1987), shows a change of style, with the singer dressed in leather, three-day beard and earring on the cover, and a first single titled "I Want Your Sex". Acclaimed by the critics, "Faith" sells millions of copies. Exhausted by the promotion of the album, George Michael took three years to release a second solo album, "Listen Without Prejudice Vol.1".

A few years later, the death of his Brazilian boyfriend, Anselmo Feleppa, leaves the star collapsed. Who returns to mourning in 1997 to the death of his mother. The singer will not reveal his homosexuality until 1998 after his arrest. He later explained that he did not want to talk about it as long as his mother was alive. He continued to come out of the tubes in the 1990s and early 2000s, causing controversy in 2004 with "Shoot The Dog", a song against the war in Iraq.

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