A Gentleman Rebel
David Bowie and his art have been a part of my entire life. I have loved David Bowie as much as it is possible to love another human being that one has never communicated with in person. When people scoffed at my “crush,” I would tell them it was an artistic connection—I get him and his art.
Bowiephilia runs in my family. My daughters and I are huge fans, especially my eldest daughter, Mistaya. As life imitates art, I wrote Queen Of The Godforsaken about a teenage girl (Lydia Buckingham) who is obsessed with David Bowie and his art. I wrote the first draft of the novel when Mistaya was very young and she never even read a draft of the novel until recently yet, somehow she became the biggest Bowie fan I know. One of his youngest fans, my daughter, Pippi (age 8 at the time), wrote a letter to David Bowie in New York last year (I tracked down his fan mail address and mailed it for her). She told him that she and her cousin had written a movie script and asked him if he could come to our city and star in it (and to bring his Labyrinth wig if it was still in his possession but that they’d accept him without it if he couldn’t find it).
I cut my hair like Bowie’s at 17—the second in a series of purposely androgynous hair cuts.
I saw him in concert when he was soon to turn 60. He was amazing. He was no longer the skinny, androgynous boy of his youth; he was a powerhouse of bulging biceps and chiseled chest. I was mesmerized by the way he kicked out his leg as he played his guitar. A week after that concert, Bowie suffered a heart attack. I was shocked—he played and sang like a man in the pink of condition. It was the first hint at the fragility of the beautiful man behind his omnipotent art.
I got to know the Bowie obsessed protagonist of my novel, Lydia Buckingham, after being inside her head for many years. She is real to me now, as protagonists become to their creators. His songs kept her company on her darkest of days. Lydia Buckingham weeps today. The novel is in part, an ode to Bowie and I am honoured that I was able to pay a tribute to my art hero during his life time. It means a lot to me that Queen Of The Godforsaken was published before his death.
David was always a gentleman rebel and true to his art: flamboyant, experimental and passionate. Throughout his life he was also pure artistic elegance. It was his eloquence and grace as a human being that shone brightly through all his art.
His eloquence incarnate is evident not only in how he lived but in how he died. He made beautiful music, created Lazarus ( his off-Broadway show) and released his latest video just a few days before he died, even though he was suffering with a terminal disease for his last year and a half.
My heart is heavy because he has inspired me on a deep artistic level throughout my life. I held out a small hope that one day, somewhere, somehow, we might meet in person. Perhaps we will…in another life.
I will not listen to your music today, Bowie; I cannot. However, I will very soon because your art in my life is unavoidable: every single playlist of mine somehow contains a few of your songs.
I weep for the loss of my artistic hero yet, I celebrate the artistic glory in which he lived his 69 years.
He will always be my hero, an artistic inspiration on how to live life as a creative soul. Fittingly, I set the ring tone on my new phone to David Bowie’s Heroes only a month ago.
David, you will be a hero for more than just one day…