Taking Things Too Far: The Bowie Apocalypse

 

Vyella Starklustre (1973)

The Prettiest Star by AC Evans

 I’m the twisted name on Garbo’s eyes. – David Bowie, 1971

…………..David Bowie’s absorption by his alter-ego persona Ziggy Stardust (according to one critic an ‘asexual androgynous Everyman’, according to Bowie himself ‘the prophet of the future starman’) became an experiment in mass-media ritual fictionalization which (almost) got out of control, reaching the stage where the performer ‘gets lost’ in his characters:

I couldn’t decide whether I was writing the characters or the characters were writing me, or whether we were all one and the same.

…………..Bowie has often been called ‘decadent’. So writes Roy Hollingworth in The Melody Maker reviewing Bowie’s ‘first farewell tour’ in June 1973.

…………..Bowie whether he knew it or not, created a monster. We were ready to drink from the cup of decadence.
…………..Trouble is few knew when to stop…

…………..In the Ziggy Stardust scenario the world is on the brink of apocalypse (‘Five Years left to die in’) and Ziggy himself (a compendium figure based on Iggy Pop and Vince Taylor, who both took things ‘too far’ – Taylor proclaimed himself Christ onstage) is like some latter-day Orpheus figure killed by his own fans in a welter of messianic references. Bowie claimed to ‘play it for real’, until, in a stroke of marketing genius, he attempted to ‘kill off’ Ziggy at a ‘farewell concert’ (London, July 4th, 1973).

 

 ………….. A.C. Evans

…………..From Angels of Rancid Glamour (Stride Research Document No 8)
…………..Stride Publications, 1998

 


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