THE SHAM OF WHAM; GEORGE MICHAEL'S SEX SHAME: 'Four girls a night' boasts to boost his image.
To George Michael the question of his confused sexuality has always been an intensely private issue.
Once it didn't seem to be in question. During his days as one half of the chart-busting duo Wham! a legion of female admirers followed wherever he went.
And that included his bedroom - according to publicity put out to boost George's macho image.
His cousin Andros Georgiou claimed he was amazed at George's prowess between the sheets on the first Wham! tour of America in 1985.
He said he was astonished to see George matching Andrew Ridgeley in the number of girls he bedded.
Andros said: "On that tour there was a point where George was f****** everything that moved.
"Andrew was always outrageous and George went through that too.
"I'm talking about three or four girls a night. It was serious."
But unlike his handsome singing partner Ridgeley, George soon realised the speedy sexual conquests which are invariably available to rock stars brought him little joy and even less satisfaction.
He felt used by the girls who just wanted to chalk up the fact that they had slept with THE George Michael.
Halfway through the tour, George decided he wanted to pursue serious relationships.
He dated actress Brooke Shields.
And he led the world to believe he enjoyed a passionate affair with Kathy Jeung, the Oriental beauty who starred in his famously erotic I Want Your Sex pop video. But all the time he was nursing a secret that he kept from the public.
Mixed-up Michael was in turmoil - terrified that if the truth emerged about his sexual quirk he would somehow lose everything.
In his book Bare - which he co-wrote with Mirror columnist Tony Parsons - the tormented star said : "I used to feel like I was a fraud.
"I used to think there was an element of me that some day everyone was going to wake up to and that everything would be taken away, the bottom would fall out of my world."
Yesterday's traumatic events may prove to be the test of whether or not his bisexuality matters.
Whatever the outcome it is a fair bet that the George Michael of today - a worldly 34-year-old - is far more equipped to handle the catastrophe than at any other time in his extraordinary life.
The reason for the once reclusive star's self-assurance dates back to a love affair with a man.
George, being George, has never stated that his relationship with wannabe Brazilian dress designer Anselmo Feleppa was physical.
But he has always been happy to talk of his deep love for Feleppa - a good looking gay man whom he met in Rio de Janeiro in 1991 but who died just two years later. Feleppa was 33 when he lost his battle against an AIDS-related illness. But in the short time he shared his life with one of the world's best known celebrities the effect was magical.
The two friends travelled to the most glamorous places. George's vast fortune covered the costs of first-class air tickets, limousines and lavish rented mansions.
It was thrilling for Anselmo, a poor boy from a Brazilian farming village.
But it was more thrilling for George, a boy from the comfortable London suburbs whose Greek parents owned a restaurant.
He told Tony Parsons: "Anselmo broke down my reserve. My reserve was partly there because of the way I was brought up - and it was partly there because I was a celebrity.
"And it still is to some degree.
"But anyone who knew me before I met Anselmo would tell you that he opened me up completely - just in allowing myself to trust my intuition. To say to myself 'This isn't going to hurt.'
"Life is not going to hurt you if you just open up to it a little bit more.
"And I am so grateful for that."
Michael - the man who once shivered at the idea of people finding out that he could be bisexual - went on: "I really believe that he changed the way I look at my life.
"He had a love of life that we just can't grasp in Britain. I think he took away that slightly puritanical, Victorian aspect of my upbringing.
"I didn't really know how to enjoy myself before I met Anselmo. I learned to travel more, to experience new things - and not only with him. I went scuba-diving, hang-gliding. I jumped off Sugar Loaf Mountain a couple of years ago. Anselmo made me realise how English I was."
But the great love of George's life was taken from him in 1993. And he is still devastated.
Inside the sleeve of his 1996 release Older he wrote: "This album is dedicated to Anselmo Feleppa who changed the way I look at my life."
"Heaven sent and heaven stole," the bereaved star sang in his moving song Jesus To A Child.
As he came to terms his tragedy, George declared: "I hate the fact that I lost Anselmo but I am still incredibly lucky to have had him in my life."
Anguished also by the cancer death of his mother, George took to smoking a staggering 25 cannabis joints a day to cope.
He recorded Older while he was out of his mind on dope and told The Mirror: "I wasn't drinking at the time - basically because I was too stoned."
Yesterday's events are all the more traumatic because George had turned the corner and was looking forward to a much brighter future.
He has given up drugs - and even cut down on his heavy cigarette habit. In upbeat mood he pledged that he was through all the doom and gloom and wanted to get back to writing a few Wham! style pop songs, strictly for fun.
He said: "I want to make some great pop music before I get too old - and for it not to be about the pain in my life."
For a man who has never revelled in the limelight, and who several years ago said he would be avoiding publicity for the rest of his career, this latest disaster will certainly add up to yet more pain.
George has already suffered more than his fair share.
And his best policy must surely be to clear the air quickly and stop the guessing game about whether or not he is sexually attracted to men.
He recently insisted: "I'll never say if I'm gay.
"I have never thought about my sexuality being right or wrong - to me it has always been just a case of finding the right person."
"Who really cares about gay or straight? If every gay actor and pop star in the world came out it wouldn't make any difference to the gay community.
"I talk to gay men who want me to be gay, straight women who want me to be straight - and a lot of people who are not too sure about their sexuality."
George may now feel that he owes his huge army of fans a clearer explanation.
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Apr 9, 1998|
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