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He Made It Cosmic to Be ‘Different’

 

Forever Stardust: David Bowie Across the Universe
by Will Brooker
I.B. Taurus. 259 pages, $22.95

 

WHEN I interviewed filmmaker Duncan Jones, who also happens to be the son of David Bowie, I closed the interview with this question: Did it ever weird him out that so many gay journalists told him that the first time they dyed their hair blond was because of his father? Jones met the question with a laugh, but for gay men of a certain generation, Bowie was one of the most serious defenses against homophobia one could have. There he was: an undeniably brilliant artist, performer, and rock-and-roll icon—who had boasted brazenly of his sexual conquests of men.

Following his shocking death last year at age 69, some people criticized the obituaries for downplaying or neglecting to mention Bowie’s gender outlaw status. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could have missed it, given the cross-dressing, the makeup, and the lusty lyrics, not to mention the photos of Bowie cuddling with Lou Reed and Mick Jagger at Studio 54, or the over-the-top homoerotic role he played in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence. Thankfully, author Will Brooker gets into a thoughtful and pleasing analysis of Bowie’s substantive style in Forever Stardust, a book that manages to be written from the perspective of an obvious fan who is never fawning or shallow.

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