David Bowie – and now the ultimate reinvention

Memorable men were born on January 8: David Bowie, Elvis Presley, and my dad.

January 8, 1935

January 8, 1935

January 8, 1923 my dad Joe

January 8, 1923 my dad Joe

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:

Buttons for eyes.  His last persona?

Buttons for eyes. His last persona?

The art is overwhelming – the whole thing – music, image, lyrics.  A man whose art trumps his own mortality.

"Blackstar" Memento Mori

“Blackstar” Memento Mori

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.

Parting shot  "Lazarus"

Parting shot “Lazarus”


 

So, on a break from feeling verklempt, I found my shoebox of concert tickets, and in very faded condition, I found it:

My only front row ticket ever: Montreal Forum, July 13, 1983, Seat A1, $15.00, David Bowie (The E is cut off)

My only front row ticket ever: Montreal Forum, July 13, 1983, Seat A1, $15.00, David Bowie (The E is cut off)

Front row, Serious Moonlight Tour.  It was glorious.

Serious Moonlight Tour 1983 (Image from The Guardian obit.)

Serious Moonlight Tour 1983 (Image from The Guardian obit.)

He could be an alien.  He could be a Goblin King. He could be a vampire.

He was supposed to be immortal. (Image from The Guardian obit.)

He was supposed to be immortal. (Image from The Guardian obit.)

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. 

Shepherd

I had a stuffed white buffalo that I pincushioned with cotton balls and carried around all night.

I had a stuffed toy white buffalo that I pincushioned with cotton balls and carried around all night.

Old priest

I greyed my hair, used my grandfather's specs, wrinkled my face with makeup, got a collar and a Bible, and asked people for their confessions.

I greyed my hair, used my grandfather’s specs, wrinkled my face with makeup, got a collar and a Bible, and asked people for their confessions.

Biker

My biker costume was borrowed leather, a costume moustache, and a papier mache chestplate with a tacky naked lady tattoo.

My biker costume was borrowed leather, a costume moustache, and a papier mache chestplate with a tacky naked lady tattoo.

Prince

1985, while backpacking in Paris, I dressed as Prince for our impromptu Hallowe'en party in the hostel.

1985, while backpacking in Paris, I dressed as Prince for our impromptu Hallowe’en party in the hostel.

So back to the spiky red hair and androgynous body and a palette full of makeup. There was only one logical choice:

What happens when a girl becomes a lad insane?

What happens when a girl becomes a lad insane?

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

The opposite of no eyebrows? Joan Crawford!

The opposite of no eyebrows? Joan Crawford!

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.

I drew in eyebrows for two months as they grew back

I drew in eyebrows for two months as they grew back

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.

Bowiedress

 

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