David Bowie introduced us to Ziggy Stardust in the early 70’s. This apparition from another planet appeared in his spangled jumpsuit, draped his arm around guitarist Mick Ronson & proceeded to simulate fellatio with Ronson’s guitar. This told his audience a lot about his interpersonal skills and, not surprisingly, resulted in worldwide attention. Bowie was just getting
started. With no detectable self-consciousness, Bowie pushed boundaries as effortlessly as if he were tying his shoelaces. This was David Bowie the showman. His cluster of personas included The Thin White Duke, Jareth the Goblin King and, ultimately, Lazarus.
Days before his death, on January 10, 2016, he released his album, Blackstar with the video, Lazarus, that shows him in a hospital bed with strips of gauze covering his face and buttons in the place of eyes. Again, a personality in place of a person. Viewers have accepted Blackstar as his parting gift to the world.
Bowie claimed that he only felt alive on stage. Encased in the “skin” of a character, he was able to feel. In interviews Bowie
insisted that when he was only himself, he felt empty. The pansexual challenges he presented to the public were contradictory and confusing. Some who knew him throughout his many incarnations believed that for David, sex was no more than a narcissistic act. His desire was to be adored by any and all. Although David is seen by some as a great liberator for the LGBT community, he never engaged in activism for that group, his focus was always on himself.
He “came out” as a “closet” heterosexual and married the supermodel, Iman in 1992. Together, with their daughter Alexandria, they presented an aura of private luxury and elegance. Bowie claimed that it was the birth of Alexandria that pulled him back to what would be considered a “normal” lifestyle. The same cannot be said for his reaction to the birth of his son, Zowie Bowie (actually Duncan Jones) in 1971. At the time he was with his first wife, Angela. Together they held unrestrained orgies in their flat on Oakley Street in London. It would appear that Zowie Bowie had little opportunity to disappear into normalcy.
There has been considerable discussion regarding his “dark” side. Bowie, while appearing to be androgynous, engaged in sexual relationships with underage groupies. One of the alleged injured parties was a 15-year-old who lost her virginity and engaged in her first threesome in the same night, under his tutelage. It is notable that to this day, the young woman involved does not believe she was exploited or violated.
David often said that his biggest mistake was when he announced to the world that he was bisexual. Over the years he recanted. He morphed into a kind of changeling and his audience embraced all permutations. Whether he posed as Tilda Swinton in her clothes standing next to her in his clothes or presented himself formally in tails and top hat, his followers
retained their enthusiasm for well over three decades. He, paradoxically, turned down the offers of knighthood in 2000 and 2003.
Bowie anticipated the future and the blurring of lines between the sexes and the races. Despite his personal indifference, he is an icon in the LGBT community. He dared to cross lines before the world was commonly using the term transgender. His audacious challenges to conventional definitions of what is male and what is female encouraged others to come forward and display who they really were. The question remains, who, in fact, was David Bowie?
Musically, David was the rare rock musician who mentored other performers. He has been credited with creating “”glam
rock”. Having been indelibly influenced by the multicultural neighborhood he grew up in, it was his view that the blending of races was a natural occurrence - he was a man far ahead of his time in the early 70’s.
While many sources influenced the development of David’s music and lifestyle, it has been reported that when Bowie first heard Little Richard’s rendition of “Tutti Frutti”, he claimed to have heard the voice of God.
Perhaps David “Lazarus” Bowie was greeted at the Pearly Gates by Little Richard. If so, surely the walls of Heaven vibrated
with a rousing rendition of “Tuffi Frutti” and the party was on.
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