Steve Strange in retrospect


Staff member
New Romantic clubland king and infamous drug addict, Steve Strange, couldn't be headlining a more appropriately named event in Dubai if he tried.

Retrospect at 360 on Thursday.

You see, it's in retrospect he wishes his success-to-excess history hadn't led to him stealing a Teletubby doll, narrowly escaping jail. It was retrospectively he left clubland, as well as his '80s band Visage, friend Boy George and the music business, behind to deal with drug and drink issues. His ability to look back at his life in retrospect provided the words for his acclaimed autobiography, Blitzed.

In retrospect Strange hasn't always taken the easiest path in life but his history, as wild and controversial as the wicked wigs which made him famous, is a colourful tale.

"It's with retrospect I managed to look back and turn my life around," he says. "It hasn't been easy but it was what I needed to do and I did it."

I'm not even sure how to introduce a man who launched a London club by getting his best friend, Boy George, up on stage to sing an a cappella Karma Chameleon while The Pet Shop Boys provided backing vocals.

After a hard-fought but highly successful battle against drugs, Strange, pop star and nightclub pioneer is heading to Dubai and tabloid! caught up with the singer ahead of his gig.

Bright lights

Personally invited to London by Billy Idol in the 1970s, Strange was enticed to the bright lights of the big city where he began designing artwork for Malcolm MacClaren and The Sex Pistols.

In 1978, he set up a club night called Billy's, which provided a setting for a mixture of art students and fashion designers as well as big names, including Madonna and Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

"The club scene is always so exciting," he said. "I'm still running some of the trendiest clubs in London. You can find out lots of secrets by reading my autobiography, Blitzed, which tells all the stories of the ways clubs used to be."

It was Strange and his clubs which spearheaded the new romantic movement which led to him becoming the vocalist and frontman of Visage, whose hits include Fade To Grey and Mind of a Toy.

But in the '90s his success led to excess, and his fame dissolved leaving a haze of drink, drugs and mental problems in its wake. He left London and headed back to the arms of his mother in Wales.

"I hit rock bottom and decided I needed to leave clubland and the music industry," he said. "I ended up getting help from groups like DASH and DIP who I found to be my rocks."


But since receiving a suspended sentence for stealing a Teletubby doll from a shop in 2000, he's been slowly rebuilding his career.

Appearing on the Here and Now 80s revival tour (which will stop off in Dubai, without Strange, in April), working on an updated version of Fade to Grey for a campaign against age discrimination at work and even starring in Celebrity Scissorhands, a reality show for charity, Strange says he is now happy to add Dubai to his list of countries visited.

"I can't wait to play in Dubai," he said. "We're going to have a blast."

"Celebrity Scissor Hands was done to raise money for Children In Need, and to be honest everything about the show was fun," he said. "You just have to be yourself, switch off from all the cameras and have a good time. I'd love to do the jungle [I'm a Celebrity Get Me Outta Here] just to overcome my fears."

Strange was immortalised in the Boy George musical Taboo, which ran in London's West End, as well as Worried about the Boy, the BBC drama about the life of Boy George.

"George and I are better friends now than ever. Taboo was a great success, and Worried About The Boy even more so."

No digs from Dubai. A crowd eagerly await a master of music. "I'm very excited to be coming to Dubai as it's a place I've been longing to see for a long time — travel for me is a way of educating yourself so I'm going to be completely occupied.

"Whenever I DJ or perform, I try and get the crowd in the best party mood with my catalogue of uplifting music and tracks. Logan Sky will also be playing who is a very good DJ and friend of mine. He plays with lots of style with ease."

Willing to talk about some things but not others, secrets, and his age (he tells me to ask Peter Pan how old he is) aren't the easiest to get out of him.

"I'm the only person to know something nobody knows about me and that's the way it will stay," he says with a laugh. But we did get this. "Visage seems to be a timeless classic band. Certain members of the original line up are in the studio recording as we speak." You heard it here first.