George Michael Explains '98 Arrest

03/19/2002 at 12:48 PM EST

George Michael says he most likely tempted fate before his notorious 1998 Beverly Hills arrest for lewd behavior. The musician, 38, told BBC Radio 1 in London on Monday that he actually may have walked into the situation, which forced him to come out publicly as a gay man, to "make my life about me." At the time of the arrest, he said, he was in mourning over the deaths of his mother and of his former partner, Anselmo Feleppa. "I think, with hindsight, I did it to myself and I tried to work out why," Michael said on the air. "And suddenly, it was a way of making my life about me. And for six months it worked." Michael was fined $810 and sentenced to perform 80 hours of community service for committing the unspecified act, which, police reports said, occurred in a small park opposite the entrance to the Beverly Hills Hotel. Not that Michael has steered clear of controversy since. His latest single "Freeek," released in the U.K. on Monday, features a $1.5 million video that includes mating dogs, nudity and profanity, as well as Michael appearing in a black leather bondage outfit, reports the BBC Radio Web site. (Reuters adds that both British and French censors took scissors to it.) "I've realized that," Michael told BBC Radio, "starting with this single, I've actually written some fairly controversial stuff for this album."

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