Wham, bam, thank you ma'am.
What is up with the checkout people at Trader Joes in NYC? Does TJs buy high-quality speed laced with exstacy in bulk and then sell it under the TJs brand name to its employees at low, low prices? Because, granted, I don't go there very often, but the few times I have, the person checking me out has been soooo fucking chatty. Last night, I was forced to discuss my work situation at length with an overly peppy gay man. In the past, I've been incessantly hit on at the wine store.
And then there's the time a woman ringing me up decided to tell me about what an incredibly fine man George Michael is/was. A BIOLOGICALLY FEMALE WOMAN.
The thing is, the sentiment that George Michael was foine, voiced by a woman, would have been totally acceptable about 20-25 years ago. But I mean, we've learned a lot since WHAM!, right? Like, that George Michael is GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY.... But seriously, what was up with WHAM! being considered "hot" throughout the 80s and George Michael continuing to be a a "sex symbol" for women well into the 90s?
Hopefully you just watched one of WHAM!'s first appearances on Top of the Pops, "singing" the song "Bad Boys," in 1983. You'll see that both members of wham are rocking a look I like to call "Classic Gay Leather (soft version)" and George Michael is prancing around singing about Daddies and Bad Boys... Now, officially, this song is supposed to be about a teenager fighting with his parents, but I think we all know what it's really about. That's right, leather daddies.
In 1984, WHAM! decided it was time for an image change. Out went the leather daddies and in came the giant white tshirts that told us to "choose life," along with a few shuttlecocks stuffed down the white pants for good measure. (Yes, seriously, there was a controversy about how the lads from WHAM! were stuffing with shuttlecocks. GAY.)And then came "Wake me up Before You Go Go," WHAM!'s biggest hit, which has it's own totally gay backstory. Andrew Ridgely (the one who isn't George Michael) left GM a note when they were at a hotel one night that said "wake me up up before you go go." But, obviously, what it really said "wake me up up before you go go to the gay leather bar because i want to come too! (I love bears!!!) okay ttfn!"
Yeah. I mean, look at that. The cavorting, the white pants, the fake guitar playing... It all point clearly at gay. And yet, they were not perceived as such. What is the possible explanation for this? The only thing that comes to my mind is that they were popular with teenage girls. And the thing about being a teenage girl is, you don't understand when boys are gay. I personally had a die-hard crush on one of my gay friends, who, looking back on it, was EXTREMELY flaming, (though he wasn't yet out of the closet) for like 2 years in high school. So, i can understand the confusion when presented with squeaky-clean, cute, non-threatening pop stars who just wanna "go go" and not, like, force their hands down your pants without asking at makeout point or whatever. (though also, I don't really thing george michael was "cute" really... but then again, neither were any of the members of NSYNC, so what do I know?)
What really confounds me is that George Michael somehow managed to continue to be a straight sex symbol during his solo career. I mean, seriously, watch this:
First off, there's the fixation on the ass - GAY. Then there's the bedazzled leather jacket, the reflective aviators, the single dangly earring, and the facial hair. GAYYYYYY. Did you ever wonder how he got so many supermodels in his video for "Freedom 90"? Because he's gay. And the gays love fashion!
Of course, then he got caught being totally gay in a public restroom in some park, and the rest is history. There would be no more rumors of his supposed relationships with the likes of Brooke Sheilds and Whoopi Goldberg (!...i guess everyone was a beard there...). Nope, GM was officially forced out of the closet, kicking and screaming. After paying an $810 fine and doing 80 hours of community service, GM came back with "Outside," an anthem of gayness if there ever was one. The video... well, the video is a high camp classic, y'all. There's a disco in the men's room, and everyone is invited! No need to RSVP!
...By the way, is he saying "keep on fucking" at the end of that video? I can't tell.
Anyway, here are some facts that I didn't fit into the post, but I thought were, you know, interesting or whatevs.
-WHAM!'s first appearance on top of the pops was in 1982, where they performed a song called "young guns (go for it)" (yes, seriously). George Michael apparently wore "espadrilles, a suede jacket slit open, and rolled-up denim jeans." And apparently this drove the girls wild.
-WHAM! was the first western pop act to tour in Red-turning-pink China. They were there for 10 days in 1985.
-Their trip to China is immortalized in the tour film "Foreign Skies."
-Their first song was called "wham rap."
-The other guy in WHAM! is actually not gay and he lives in some old castle with his wife somewhere in England. And he's an environmental activist or something.
-George Michael was arrested in a public restroom in Beverly Hills after being baited by one of the force's "pretty police."