Singer ANTONY HEGARTY hails Boy George and Lou Reed as his musical muses, and he was stunned when both his heroes were keen to work with him.

Torn between his two favourite hitmakers, the Antony and the Johnsons frontman eventually turned down the chance to understudy Boy George in his West End show taboo in favour of touring with Reed.

But he admits he was "star-struck" on meeting the KARMA CHAMELEON singer, as it was the androgynous performer who first inspired him to become a rocker.

He says, "When I first saw George on TV, I was 11. He was something special. There was something so earnest and vulnerable yet natural about him, and his presence just struck me.

"It was the first time I saw someone in the media that I could relate to or start to mirror a sense of who I might be. He was so naturally androgynous and that's what I related to."

Hegarty admits working with THE Velvet Underground legend Lou Reed was the ultimate learning curve.

He says, "Hanging out with Lou was like going to college as every day I learned something new.

"He's been one of my fiercest advocates and defenders and a tremendous friend to me."