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Boy George Says Tina Turner Rudely "Turned Her Back" When They Were First Introduced

The Culture Club singer dishes on other celebrities in his new memoir.

In his new memoir, KarmaBoy George opens up about his early life, his time in the band Culture Club, and his struggles with heroin addiction. Amid stories about his career and some of the darker times in his life, he also shares interactions he's had with other celebrities, including Janet Jackson and Princess Diana. In a recent interview with People, Boy George gave an account of an awkward experience with another singer that he didn't include in the book. He says that Tina Turner snubbed him when they met in the '80s, turning away from him when they were introduced.

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Boy George told the magazine that he was introduced to Turner by Elton John after one of John's shows. He had been invited into a dressing room backstage along with Turner and actors Faye Dunaway and Ben Kingsley. (A photo posted to a Facebook fan page shows Boy George, John, Dunaway, and Turner together in 1985.) "It was a lot of big stars in the room. And it was a tiny room," the "Karma Chameleon" artist explained. "And when Elton John introduced me, [Tina] turned her back."

When he left the room upset, Dunaway followed him to make sure that he was OK. Boy George told People that he tried to figure out why Turner ignored him but never got any confirmation. "Maybe it was the drugs, I'd just come off drugs—so maybe she was disapproving of that," he said.

Boy George performing with Culture Club in West Palm Beach in 2023
Geoffrey Clowes / Shutterstock

Boy George added that he thought he would connect with Turner over them both practicing Buddhism, because John had told him that she was also a Buddhist. The Culture Club frontman previously shared that he initially became interested in Buddhism because of the 1993 Turner biopic What's Love Got to Do With It. The Chicago Tribute asked him about practicing Nichiren Buddhismin a 2016 interview.

"It's the one Tina Turner practices," Boy George responded. "Have you seen What's Love Got to Do With It? It's a great film. [There's a scene where] Tina is taught Buddhism by a friend. That film was the first time I heard about it. I find it helps me focus on what I want to achieve."

Turner passed away at the age of 83 in 2023. Boy George told People that while he never found out why she turned her back on him, he didn't hold a grudge. "I'm the biggest Tina Turner fan on the planet. I mean, I forgave her and I loved her," he said.

He wasn't so forgiving of another star, however. In his book, he writes that he tried to meet Janet Jackson when they were on Solid Gold in the '80s before he was in makeup and ready for the show. "She wasn't friendly and didn't try to be," Boy George writes. Later, she told him she didn't recognize him without his signature look. "Are you saying you would have been nice to me if you knew who I was?'" Boy George asked, adding, "We parted on awkward terms." When they saw each other on another show, Top of the Pops, a few years later, "she looked straight through [him]."

boy George told People that he's "always someone who's prepared to bury the hatchet," but adding, "At this point, there's certain people I'm never gonna be friends with unless a miracle happens—and I guess I put [Jackson] in that category."

As for Princess Diana, Boy George says she was kind to him and his family at a charity event. He writes that Diana "broke protocol and approached [him]," complimented his outfit, and talked to his mother. "They spent 10 minutes chatting," the 62-year-old shares in his book. "She told Mum I was a true survivor."

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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