From his first days gazing at the pages of People from Munro College in Kingston, Jamaica, celebrity penman George Wayne managed to go from days as an invisible scholar to a three-decade career as a journalist grilling the who’s who of the celebrity world. GW, as Wayne likes to call himself, is just as influenced from his years as an awkward LGBTQ teen coming of age in what is equivalent to the Bible Belt as he was during his time scene hopping in New York City.
Discovery, exploration, and a healthy allergy to mediocrity were clear characteristics that guided his niche and punchy career he carved for himself. It was R.O.M.E., the old-school hand made avante-gard fashion journal of sceney pages he ultimately coined, made with Xerox, no less, that hooked a new crowd of cool kids, art influencers, drag queens, socialites and stars. Immersion into New York’s hip social crowds jump started his unapologetic views of celebrity personalities and culture that eventually graced the pages of Vanity Fair for his very own Q&A column. By the early 1990s Karl Lagerfeld, LeRoy Neiman, Isaac Mizrahi, Azzedine Alaia, Ales Katz, Steven Meisel, Graydon Carter were fans, a mere five issues from its launch.
When we asked him what identity based rules he’s defied by becoming a success, Wayne was not shy about breaking it down to Industry Rules. “Knowing your place…in the sense of being told your presumed role or tenet. In other words, not allowing anyone else to define who you are or subject you to a certain milieu just because of the skin you were born with or a religion you may believe.”
When asked how culture, or lack of it, affect and shape his career, he went in. “Pop culture shaped my career from my very formative youth growing up as a twelve-year-old boy in Mandeville, Jamaica West Indies and couldn’t wait for my father to get home from work with the Jamaica Daily Gleaner newspaper and his TIME International magazine so I could read it. I always remember my father coming home
with the daily newspaper and me running to my room to read.” As for lack of culture, Wayne’s response was to the point, “Nothing gives GW more pleasure than up-ending being under-estimated. Some folk believe my happy-go-lucky persona into thinking that as a sign of je nais se quois. Nothing gives me a greater thrill than to defy and disappoint my haters and naysayers.”
Quick to remind anyone he encounters it takes one to know one, GW has delighted over the years deconstructing celebrity happenings. So much so, that umteenth throw-back-Thursdays and Flashback-Fridays later, he’s delighted HarperCollins is publishing Anyone Who’s Anyone – The Astonishing Interviews from 1987-2017 to recollect some of the most iconic and controversial A-List personality interviews that have colored his career. Sandra Bernhard’s interview was worthy of recollecting – you’ll see. Eartha Kitt, too.
Flipping through the preview of Anyone Who’s Anyone, it’s clear to see that over the years Wayne is a blend between that wicked aunt everyone seems to have who has absolutely no edit button and the bestie you trust enough to talk about the loss of loved ones, career woes and plastic surgery. The easy read pegs him as a gossip historian of sorts hyper-identified as speaking about himself in third person, a sure side-effect of going from feeling like a nobody to eventual prescription truth-telling and real talk among many who continued on to remain in his inner circle of close friends.
One thing is sure, it takes a master shapeshifter to anchor a career working with top publications as Paper, Interview, and Allure. Over the years Wayne managed to channel the golden rules of interviewing Hollywood ghosts, giants, fallen addicts and big screen heroes and heroines while enjoying a heaping serving of self indulgence for good measure.
Both entertained and distracted by the road that unfolded, Wayne made plenty of friends (and a few frenemies) along the way as he sipped Mimsy’s and got the dish on white privilege, celebrity news, divorce, virginity, death, and resurrection. He’s cultivated a knack for defining icons. What makes them timeless rather than dated? “Timeless icons know how to be a step ahead of the curve. It takes a masterful mind to maintain pop-culture relevance for decade after decade. Re-inventing is an art form. Re-invention but never losing the essence of what got you the glory in the first place.”
After three decades wooing celebrities and who’s who to classify their news and boo-hoos, Wayne, or GW as he calls himself, proudly considers envy-inspiring offers on the table.
If you’re more familiar with SnapChat than throw-back Vanity Fair hard copy archives, a quick Google of Wayne reveals an at-a-glimpse short list of spoilers that sums up his last 26 years. Split the difference and find his recent New York Times Style profile or on the Gram. More importantly, in Wayne’s own words, “…buy the book, people!” As Wayne oozes delight that envy-inspiring offers are on the table in the realm of tv, a would-be ultimate playground for him, buy Anyone Who’s Anyone on Amazon.