Boy George's old squat: It happened here

Boy George‘s autobiography, ’Take It Like A Man‘, catalogues this chaotic squat scene between Goodge Street and the Euston Road in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s

  • It seems difficult to imagine now but, only 25 years ago, much of the capital’s most expensive real estate remained derelict, home to around 30,000 squatters. Boy George's first central London address was a five-storey Edwardian house on Great Titchfield Street, one that he decorated with posters of David Bowie, Little Richard and images of ’50s film icons along with Chinese umbrellas and Japanese fans.

    Like most squats, it had no running water, so he had to use outside toilets and, in rare opportunities, bunk into hotels for a wash. George kept himself going with odd jobs in clubs and shops, shoplifting and various instances of petty theft.

    When Great Titchfield Street became too squalid, George moved around the corner and squatted a council property on Carburton Street (which had a basement that was so horrific they boarded it up using old doors), before moving to Goodge Street. He also spent a lot of time in the more glamorous Warren Street squats, home to assorted fashion students and the haunt of New Romantic luminaries like Steve Strange, Marilyn, Jeremy Healey of Haysi Fantayzee, Steve Dagger from Spandau Ballet, style journalists Chris Sullivan and Robert Elms, and ‘close pal’ Kirk Brandon.

    Japanese tourists would mill around the freakshow to take photos. Derek Ridgers’ famous picture of Boy George and Marilyn, dolled up before a trip to the Blitz in 1980, was taken outside a Georgian doorway that doesn’t seem to correlate with any of George’s addresses – it seems that they chose to pose in front of a more upmarket house.

    Rent on the Great Titchfield Street property nowadays would set you back around £2,000 a week. One suspects that even Boy George and his erstwhile Culture Club partner Jon Moss – who both play (quite separate) gigs this week – might be a little surprised at that.

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