Jan. 11th, 2016

rushthatspeaks: (the unforgiving sun)
David Bowie (1947-2016).

Every year of my adult life, I've watched him as Andy Warhol in Basquiat at least once, the kind of delicately tender performance that made me re-evaluate Warhol and which never fails to move me to tears.

Every year since I was ten or eleven, Labyrinth as a constant, his touch of glamour in the whimsy, the whisper of real darkness among the more comprehensible magic. There's a generation of fantasy fans who came of age hypnotized, not just by the tight pants, though they are certainly tight, but by the crooked smile and the look on his face at the end when the world falls apart. I've never known whether I want to be Jareth or fuck Jareth.

I never knew that about Bowie, either.

My high school senior yearbook page is covered with Bowie lyrics, the elliptical tracings of the things I couldn't articulate. The four years of that school filled with a five-thirty-a.m. bus, more than an hour of sitting in an interior you could see your breath in in winter, wrapped in a jacket that wasn't thick enough and socks that weren't tall enough and the uniform skirt they insisted we wear, but mostly wrapped in headphones linked to a cassette recorder. Diamond Dogs and the Labyrinth soundtrack and compilations taped off the radio, fuzzy reduplications of other people's duplications, the tape-player almost warm enough to keep my fingers mobile. Without punk, I would not have survived high school, and Bowie, despite the chronology of his career not fitting into the musical movement, was something near the heart of punk rock on those cold mornings.

His was one of the first images of masculinity that I was not afraid to contemplate. Without David Bowie, I would not have survived gender. I never read him as particularly feminine: I read him as a way of being a man in the world that was so far away from the way every man around me did it that he might as well have genuinely been a spider from Mars. It opened up the space of possibility. I have never been particularly flamboyant, but I am femme as hell-- I mean, I do not actually voluntarily wear trousers, ninety percent of the time-- and Bowie showed me that the accoutrements of what most people would call high femme don't need to be simply one set of signifiers, can say whatever you want (or nothing) about your gender identity, or presentation, for that matter, if you know what you're doing. The vaguely self-actualized man-with-complications that I am today is heavily due to his influence, not the gender identity but the ability to cope with it.

I never thought he'd actually go and die or anything. Rock and roll doesn't.

Now we will all have to be fabulous and mythical and incandescent for him.

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