Memorable men were born on January 8: David Bowie, Elvis Presley, and my dad.
David Bowie left us in a way that has moved me to my very core. His longtime friend and producer Tony Visconti has already been widely quoted:
He always did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way. His death was no different from his life—a work of Art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn’t, however, prepared for it. He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us. For now, it is appropriate to cry.
His last album “Blackstar” was only released on January 8. Many people can hang on until a certain date – a holiday, a birthday, an album release – and then they allow themselves to pass. They are done.
I watched the videos for “Blackstar” and “Lazarus” featuring this incarnation of Bowie:
The art is overwhelming – the whole thing – music, image, lyrics. A man whose art trumps his own mortality.
There is a lot to absorb and synthesize and contemplate in this last work. But we have the time to do it now. He left us full, not empty.
So, on a break from feeling verklempt, I found my shoebox of concert tickets, and in very faded condition, I found it:
Front row, Serious Moonlight Tour. It was glorious.
He could be an alien. He could be a Goblin King. He could be a vampire.
In the early 80s I had spiky red hair, and a white spandex bodysuit for my flatchested boyish figure. I like reinvention too, and in those years I cross-dressed for most of my Hallowe’en costumes.
So back to the spiky red hair and androgynous body and a palette full of makeup. There was only one logical choice:
The only problem was my overenthusiasm at getting it right. As I painted the lightning bolt, out came the eyebrow hairs. I never intended to pluck them ALL out, but obsessing over getting it perfect, I did just that.
Hallowe’en fell on a Monday that year, so the big parties had been over the weekend. When I decided to go out Monday as well, I needed a new costume after Bowie. Well the first thing I had to address was my new lack of eyebrows. I also discovered that eyebrows keep forehead sweat from dripping in your eyes. Damn useful, they are. So… eyebrows
I got a kerchief, curled the front of my red hair over the top of it, wore pearls, a buttoned up blouse, navy pinstripe skirt, hose and heels, and carried a wire hanger all night.
Bowie embraced it all. Fashion, art, gender, image, music, narrative, genre, meaning. A true artist.
I hope he would have liked my Joan Crawford as well as my Aladdin Sane.