THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW: 

 

Wed 26 May 2004     Harpo Studios, Chicago, IL
       

Patience

Father Figure

Faith

 

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For the first time, after 10 years out of the American spotlight, singer George Michael goes public on The Oprah Winfrey Show. George talks about why he disappeared from center stage, from the details of his shocking arrest to his devastating bout with depression, and the double life he hid from his family and fans.

He admits to Oprah, "I didn't have the emotional energy to face what would have been an uphill struggle." Later in the show, Michael and his partner of eight years, Kenny Goss, invite the cameras into their beautiful, never-before-seen, 16th century home outside London.

George also takes the stage to perform his new hit single "Amazing" from his new album, Patience.

*****

George Michael: The Oprah Winfrey Show

George Michael Hi.

Oprah How you doing?

George Michael I'm good. I'm good. It's great to meet you finally.

Oprah: Great to meet you finally.

George Michael: I've been an admirer for years.

Oprah: Really? How you feeling about doing this interview? This is a coming out of sorts.

George Michael: It's a strange thing because I haven't been on American television for so long. It's weird being back here to promote because I spend a lot of time here. Because my current partner of 8 years is American. I spend quite a lot of time in America. But none of it professionally.
Oprah: Will you walk us back to the day of the arrest? Will you? What was going on?

George Michael: Let me see the day of the arrest..

Kenny Goss We went out to eat.

George Michael We went to eat. Look Kenny is telling you. We went out for a meal.

Oprah: Cause you and Kenny were together at the time?

George Michael: Yeah, we were together at this time for about 2 and Ĺ years. It's a strange thing really. When I looked back at it afterwards its was so obvious it was deliberate on my part. Strange at it may seem.

Oprah: I do the Oprah show so it's not strange enough.

<Audience laugher>

George Michael: And when I look back on it I was just kind of bursting to come out I think.

Oprah: Explain what happened.

George Michael: What happened was that there was a couple of undercover police in that particular park. Which is opposite of the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Oprah: So you are in a park?

George Michael: Very classy.

<Audience laugher>

Oprah: So you are in a park opposite of the Beverly Hills Hotel.

George Michael: It's a well know cruising area. And I was in my car on the other side of the road. And there was 2 police officers were impersonating people who were cruising.

Oprah: Impersonating people?

George Michael: I went into the bathroom with no one in it. The policeman came in after me.

Oprah: But you didn't know he was a policeman.

George Michael: Of course not.

Oprah: Of course not.

George Michael: They don't send Columbo in there. They send someone nice looking.

<Audience laugher and applause>

Actually, absolutely, nothing went on.

Oprah You got to tell us what happened. And telling in a way you can tell it on television because we hear a repost like that "arrested for lewd acts".

George Michael: Yeah, you imagine something very lewd.

Oprah Yes and in everybody's mind its what "lewd" is to them. And these are some people who can go all the way.

<Audience laugher and applause>

George Michael So I went into the bathroom. Being cautious went over and was washing my hands. And the person whose job it was to be there attracting my attention was doing exactly that. As far as I was concerned, unless he could do something clever with his thumb, then there was a man there who was interested in my attention.

Oprah: Am I following you?

<Audience laughter>

Are you all following? Ok.

George Michael This is difficult for women to imagine obviously.

Oprah: I'm still at washing your hands.

<audience laugher.

George Michael Yes, I'm washing my hands (shows us) and drying my hands (shows us) And there is a man in the cubicle staring at me.

Oprah: Staring at you washing your hands?

George Michael: Yes, starring at me.

Oprah: Wait a minute. Is that a code?

<Audience laughter>

George Michael: Staring is a kind of code. Washing your hands, you are being careful, right? And he was staring at me.

Oprah: Watching you like interested in you or something?

George Michael: Well no. He was doing rather more than that. This is the point. What I called entrapment is when someone, even if they are not, If they are pretending to be pleasuring themselves, you respond.

Oprah: Oh, he is pleasuring himself.

George Michael This is the thing unless he can do something clever with his thumb. I thought I was watching someone pleasuring himself and watching me. And basically what happened ..

Oprah: Oh! I'm with you now!!!

George Michael: OK!

<Audience laughter and applause>

Oprah: I'm there!!

<Audience laughter and applause>

George Michael So I kind of responded in kind. Very briefly. The guy walked out of the bathroom. So I just gathered he wasn't impressed.

<Audience laughter>

And I left and went back down to the street. And as I reached the street, the cops swooped on my basically.

Oprah: Whoa.

George Michael: Its pretty heave stuff really I think.

Oprah: What do you think then?

George Michael: Well I stood on the pavement and said, " I'm sorry, that was entrapment."

Oprah: I said that. Absolutely. There was a nice crowd gathering. And I have my hands behind on the pavement. I just said to them this is outrageous and this was entrapment.

Oprah: Were you scared?

George Michael: Part of me was very scared.

Oprah: Embarrassed?

George Michael: Yeah.

Oprah: Were you thinking about your career?

George Michael: To be honest with you, I remember thinking, immediately, I just have to tell the truth about this

Oprah: Yeah.

George Michael: I suppose part of me, part of my subconscious, must have been saying, "Well, this is kind of what I was looking for and now I have to deal with it."

Oprah: Well you could of thought of a better way.

<Audience laughter>

George Michael: Oh, Absolutely.

Oprah: You say the arrest was your outing?

George Michael: Yeah. There's something about the fact it was opposite of the Beverly Hills Hotel, indicated I was doing it in a show-bizz manner.

<Audience laughter>

I think part of me was almost ready to deal with it, in what ever way it was going to happen.

Oprah: This is fascinating to me. Because I cant imagine being a certain sexuality and hiding that. And that..and had to hide that. So your whole life you are hiding?

George Michael No. Not really. In reality as soon as I met Anselmo, my first partner, which was when I was 27.

Oprah: But we the public didn't know?

George Michael: Oh no.

Oprah: So you are hiding it from us?

George Michael: Hiding it from the public, absolutely.

Oprah: Weren't you dating women?

George Michael: There were only a couple of girlfriends that people knew about.

Oprah: Were they real girlfriends?

George Michael: Yeah, Absolutely. That was the stage I was at in my life. I was 24, coming up to 25, where I was starting to think, I'm not really bisexual. You are not going to have a choice here.

Oprah: And when people would write about write about you and say what are you, did you at one point say everyone is discussing my sexuality?

George Michael:Yeah, every time I have dealt with interviews it would be "come on we want to know." And I would leave some kind of comment that was humorous and leave it up in the air.

In reality I was angry with the media. My first partner was HIV positive for about 2 years before he died. We knew he was HIV positive. I knew he could get the best treatment in LA or Britain. He insisted on going back to Brazil every time he wanted to see a Dr. And it was unspoken; I knew he was trying to protect his family.

Oprah: Really?

George Michael: His family being a Catholic/Brazilian family. I really truly believe that if he had treatment in Britain or American, he would have survived.

Oprah: Wow.

George Michael: So my feeling toward the press.. But I think, my God, why I didn't sit with a journalist and say "I am gay".

Oprah: Yeah.

George Michael It was so beyond me to-do that.

Oprah: Do you think you might be rejected?

George Michael To be honest I think America would have more of a problem with it than Europe. Cause it is more of a religious based question here. And I respect that.

Oprah: Yeah.

George Michael: And I truly felt I was dealing with it. Obviously I wasn't. I found that compromise massive. But it was a big problem to me in some way and I think the point it happened, a year after my mother died.

At that point in time I was still angry about her death. Very kind of down on myself. I think I choose to distract myself from the grief of loosing her by doing something I would of have to fight for my life almost.

Oprah: Where were you doing over there anyway?

George Michael: Well it has its upside.

Oprah You had Kenny at home.

George Michael: Believe me I know.

Oprah: How do you make that phone call.. "Uh, hello?"

<Audience laugher>

George Michael: That is what kind of exactly what it was. There were very kind to me. They let me have 2 or 3 attempts for a phone call.

Oprah: Did they know who you were?

George Michael: Oh yes. This is the best bit.

Oprah: Did they say, "Can I have a CD, will you sign it?"

<Audience laughter>

George Michael: Oh I'm sure I signed a few autographs. I have to spend 3 hours in the Beverly Hills police station. I was lucky. Very quiet afternoon. It is the most spotless police station.

<Audience laughter>

Top class police station. They put you in a room, nothing sharp in there in case you want to take your life. There is a big slab of stone with a blanket in there in case you felt tired at 3 in the afternoon. And a copy of the National Enquirer!!!

<Audience laughter>

George Michael: So you can imagine , I'm thinking this is a joke. I'm going to be on the front cover of this next week!! Someone is having a laugh.

<Audience laughter and applause>

Oprah: to Kenny Goss-- So you guys have been together 8 years now?

Kenny Goss: Yes.

Oprah: He called you?

Kenny Goss: He called me and said, "You are not going to believe what I done." Got a DUI? He goes, "If only." They didn't tell me what I picked you up (to George) what you done remember?

George Michael: I know. The let me do that, didn't they?

Kenny Goss: Yeah.

George Michael: Very nice of them. He picked me up at the police station. We went to dinner.

Oprah: The Beverly HILLS police station.

<Audience laughter>

George Michael: We got to the restaurant; he said " You never know, it might not get into the press."

<Audience laughter>

I said, Kenny darling, they will either be there when he get home or when we wake up in the morning. It was in between. The helicopters started about 2 in the morning. At 2 o'clock in the morning we could hear helicopters get phone calls from London going, "what, what, what" It was all chaos.

Oprah: Did you ever feel bad about it?

George Michael: I felt more badly for myself that I was that screwed up. What happened out of that, I plummeted into a deep deep depression, which was about my mother. Everything that happened in the year before that was my way of avoiding that, Making my life about me and not missing her.

Oprah: Cause you have not allowed yourself to grieve

George Michael: I haven't allowed myself to grieve properly. I told myself I had.

Oprah: Were you worried about or are you worried about American fans, now with a new album, accepting you are a gay artist?

George Michael: I'm not worried about it. To be straight forward..Im not interested in selling record to people who are homophobic.

<Audience applause>

<Kenny Gives George a thumbs UP>

I'm very lucky. I'm 40, live with a man I love dearly. I have more love, success, and security in my life that I could ever dream of. I didn't need approval of people who don't approve of me.

Oprah: The long awaited album, Patience, is getting rave reviews from critics. People magazine gave it a 4 out of 4 stars!!

<Audience Roars>

4 out of 4. The critics saying you posses one of the best voices in the business. And that makes you feel what?

George Michael: I just wanted to tell people that I know I've been away a long time. The honest truth I needed to sort out my personal life. Then I felt I sorted out my personal life. Then I found out my partner was ill. I knew I was not going to be able to work. I knew I wasn't going to be able to write or singe while I was as terrified as I was of losing my partner. He died. I spent 2 years grieving over that. 3 years after Anselmo died, I met Kenny. I called my mother the day after I met Kenny to tell her I met this wonderful man. Unfortunately, it was the same call she had to tell me she had cancer.

Oprah: On the same call?

George Michael: She kept it from me. Of course she was lying to me, telling me it was all fine now. Everything is fine. They got rid of it. So I could go on with me being happy. 7 or 8 months later, she died.

That period after she died, was the blackest period of my life really. The time in my personal life and it took me to write again after I lost her, is really the reason what I haven't been around.

I just wanted to explain to the people who have been absolutely loyal and why I haven't been here. And to let them know. It wasn't because I didn't care. I just didn't have the emotional energy to fight the uphill struggle here at the time. And now that I feel great and my writing ability had come back and touch base with them again and say, "I'm still here. I'm fighting fit now. And if you're interested, I'm here again."

Oprah: Patience.

George Michael: Patience.

Oprah: Patience my Friend.

Oprah: George and Kenny share a charming country estate outside London. And for the first time the ultra-private Mr. Michael.


George Michael: Ultra-private. (Audience Laughter) You have NO idea how UNconfortable I was doing this. Actually you probably will have when you see it.
<Audience laughter>


Oprah: Yeah! He allowed our cameras inside. Thank you very much.


Oprah: Actually your home..I might stop by for some crumpets.


George Michael: Absolutely. Crumpets? Scones maybe.


Oprah: It looks like that you enjoy being there. You didnít look uncomfortable doing that.


George Michel: Iím a great actor.


Oprah: So you are back and forth between there and London?


George Michael: We spend a lot of time in London. We recently bought a place in Dallas, because beforehand we were staying at Kennyís brothers. And Iím not good at sleeping in Childrenís Bedrooms.


Oprah: How do the people in Dallas handle your accent?


George Michael: I donít know. Its me handling their accent isnít it?


I think of the 3 places I know: NY, LA, and Dallas: Dallas is the warmest of the 3.

 

 

Notes:

This was broadcasted on TV.