George Michael hung pearls from biker jacket in Faith video as secret signal to show that he was gay – 11 years before he came out
George Michael hung strings of pearls from his leather jacket in the video for his hit song Faith to send a secret signal that he was gay – 11 years before he came out publicly.
The revelation was made by Andy Morahan, who directed the 1987 video that featured Michael wearing a ‘Rockers Revenge’ biker jacket, aviator sunglasses and ripped jeans, and which turned him into a global sex symbol.
In unused footage exclusively obtained by this newspaper from the documentary George Michael: Portrait Of An Artist, which airs tonight on Channel 4, Morahan, 65, told how the star had fired his stylist and bought the jacket from a Hollywood boutique.
‘George was talking about leather jackets but he didn’t have one that had the Rebel and Wild One vibe,’ said Morahan, referring to classic James Dean movies.
‘Then we found this jacket with ‘Revenge’ on the back and [George] put his pearls on the side – his secret sign of his sexuality.’
Faith reached number one in the US and number two in the UK.
Michael did not come out publicly until 1998 after he was caught soliciting an undercover police officer for sex in a public toilet in Beverly Hills.
A source in Los Angeles, who was friends with Michael, said: ‘George hid his sexuality from the public because there was no way he could have become a heart-throb if he’d come out in those days.
‘But he never hid his sexuality in private. Back then, one of the things you could do to signal to other men in clubs and bars that you were gay was to hang a string of pearls from your jeans or jacket.
‘It was a message to his gay fans. You have the contrast of that butch jacket with the feminine pearls. His message was clear to those of us who knew the signal.’
The singer’s long-term boyfriend Kenny Goss confirmed that Michael was in therapy to deal with the pressures of fame.
The singer started seeing celebrity psychiatrist Dr Barrington Cooper, who treated stars including Elizabeth Taylor, when he was 18, visiting up to three times a week.
Goss said: ‘Dr Cooper was a fantastic psychiatrist, a good friend.
‘He encouraged patients to believe in themselves and that anything is possible if you work hard at it. He became a big part of our lives.’
The doctor’s widow, artist Jane Cooper, said: ‘My husband looked after George from the age of 18.
‘George had an uncle who was a depressive who killed himself, and that’s a genetic thing. I doubt you can override that to that extent – that’s like a disease. I think that’s where George was at.’
While a coroner ruled Michael’s death in 2016, aged 53, was from a heart attack, Mrs Cooper believes the star slowly killed himself with drink and drugs, adding: ‘The coroner said he died of a heart attack, but I read that as a euphemism for other things. A polite euphemism.’
In another out-take, producer Chris Porter revealed Michael had a recording studio built on a Boeing 747 when Wham! toured China in 1985.
He added: ‘There were no studios in China. The nearest were in Australia. We built our own studio in that 747 and basically got transported to the two shows in China.’