Culture Club at the 1984 GRAMMYs
GRAMMY Rewind: 26 Years Before "RuPaul's Drag Race," Boy George & Culture Club Brought Drag Queen Realness To America
For today's episode of GRAMMY Rewind, GRAMMY.com takes a trip back to 1984, when London New Wave group Culture Club won Best New Artist. Following the momentous release of their lively 1982 debut album, Kissing To Be Clever, they were also nominated for one of its hit singles—and '80s classic—"Do You Really Want To Hurt Me."
Watch the group's full acceptance speech below to witness legendary frontman Boy George, rocking winged eyeliner and magenta lips, deliver a charming moment that shocked a gender-binary, Ronald-Reagan-ruled America.
"Thank you, America, you've got taste, style and you know a good drag queen when you see one," George offered, with a coy kiss to the camera.
In 2018, the queer icon reflected on the moment during an interview with Variety: "I didn't really consider what it meant for anyone else, as I was in England…But people [in the U.S.] were freaking out when I said that. My press agent at the time, Susan Blond, literally cried. And now you have RuPaul and 'Drag Race,' which my nephew in Leeds watches. Look, sometimes the world just isn't ready—for a word, for a shift of the moral compass. I'm glad I said it now. I just wish I had said it with a bit more intention at the time."
Luckily, better representation for the LGBTQ+ rainbow—including drag queens, honey!—in American media has continued to improve throughout the decades via groundbreaking shows like "RuPaul's Drag Race" (2009-2021) and "Pose" (2018-2021), the latter of which features trans actors and writers.