The most enduring lesson of the Age of Narcissism beginning in the 1970s—with Disco and Glam Rock being its twin expressive symptoms—is that the crown of celebrity is available to anyone that dares claim it for himself. Even the British class system could be breached. The Tate Liverpool gallery memorialized this epochal turning point with an exhibition that ran from February to May 2013. According to its lavishly lurid catalog, Glam celebrated the “politics of artifice” in which self-conscious androgyny was a defining element.i
David Bowie, the embodiment of Glam, was a nineteen-year-old aspiring rock star when he contracted entertainment business veteran Kenneth Pitt to advance his lackluster career. In his late thirties, Pitt enjoyed being with young people of ambition and was openly gay long before it became acceptable in the larger society. Homosexuality was not decriminalized in the United Kingdom until September 1967.
Angela Bowie, the American-born wife who was instrumental in the invention and reinvention of the different personae her husband adopted, observed that the Pitt-Bowie partnership was a “very queer gay-mafia type of management system.”ii Importantly, the David Bowie phenomenon arose from a historical precedent set by an exclusive group of writers and arbiters of elite British arts and letters that were active during the interwar period. Most significantly, the Bloomsbury Circle left an indelible impression on Anglo-American culture and society that persists to the present, particularly among literary scholars influenced by certain strains of contemporary academic feminist thought and so-called “queer theory.”iii
Barbara Fassler in “Theories of Homosexuality as Sources of Bloomsbury’s Androgyny” surveys the intellectual currents of the 1930s that influenced the likes of Lytton Strachey, Virginia Woolf, and Vita Sackville-West.iv The David Bowie pop phenomenon owes much to the privileged Bloomsbury social set whose collective sensibility led to the “unique fusion of masculine and feminine elements.” For them, “Notions about androgyny were closely intertwined with ideas about homosexuality.”v That is, there is a straight but queer line that connects the Bloomsbury litterateurs to the self-consciously gay-like David Bowie persona fabricated for both domestic and international consumption as pioneered by The Beatles and their well-connected manager Brian Epstein who reportedly went in for homosexual rough trade.vi
Just as pederasty figured into the sexual predilections of Bloomsbury Set figures such as Fabian socialist economist Maynard Keynes, Glam Rock yielded Gary Glitter and his hit single “Rock and Roll (Part Two)” in 1972.vii His Top of the Pops persona was crafted from garish garb gotten from the Alkasura boutique in the King’s Road at the advice of David Bowie. The outfits that Glitter wore were part and parcel of a “routine whose most memorable feature was a startled, wide-eyed look thrown back across his shoulder.”viii
A dark secret, however, was later to emerge concerning Paul Francis Gadd (“Gary Glitter”). In 1997, he was arrested in Britain for “possessing a collection of 4,000 hardcore photographs of children being abused.”ix He later was imprisoned for three years in Vietnam after being convicted in 2006 for committing obscene acts with two girls.x As part of the “Operation Yewtree” inquiry into Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal, Gadd was the very first suspect to be arrested.
Occult devotee Marilyn Manson (Brian Warner) would have been more difficult to market had not David Bowie preceded him. Marilyn Manson and his band-mates perversely but perceptively conflated the names of serial killers with live models and dead actresses in a deathly synthesis of contemporary Anglo-American popular culture. Sex kitten Marilyn Monroe is merged with Charles Manson and becomes one; beauty fused demoniacally with evil. Similarly, guitarist Twiggy Ramirez combines Swinging Sixties English fashion model Lesley Hornby (“Twiggy”) with avowed Satanist Richard “The Night Stalker” Ramirez, whose serial murders terrorized both Southern and Northern California during the mid-1980s.xi
The final albums and music videos by Bowie evoked a dark and deathly Satanic vision of life during the first decade and a half of the 21st century. In this, the endlessly shape-shifting Bowie was an artist fully situated in his time. His death is the capstone on the pyramid of necrotic Anglo-American mass culture spanning a half-century of civilizational cancer away so fantastic and unreal that leads one to suspect that “Bowie” (Born David Robert Jones) sprang from the twisted, fervid minds of social psychologists residing at the Tavistock Institute.
In this, the Death of David Bowie might presage a new era of spiritual regeneration that is the precondition of civilizational health and advancement. With the demise of its guardian “Bowie”—his name appropriated from legendary American Jim Bowie and inventor of the distinctive knife or “Texas Toothpick”—The City of London will be put in abeyance after decades of political-economic rule through its surrogate military arm the USA. America will recover and regrow from its deep cultural roots, especially its vital Crossroads Music that sparked the imagination of countless individuals the world over including young David Robert Jones; before he accepted the offer of the Left-Hand Path to pop stardom as “David Bowie.” Farewell Thin White Duke, Major Tom, Aladdin Sane; whichever alter you prefer. Let “Ashes to Ashes Stardust to Stardust” be your epitaph.
i Darren Pih, ed. Glam: The Performance of Style (London: Tate Publishing, 2013).
ii Marc Spitz, Bowie: A Biography (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2009), p. 68.
iii Regina Marler, The Bloomsbury Boom (New York: Henry Holt, 1997).
iv Barbara Fassler, “Theories of Homosexuality as Sources of Bloomsbury’s Androngyny.” Signs, Vol. 5, No. 2 (Winter, 1979), pp. 237-251.
v Fassler, p;. 237.
vi Palash Ghosh, “Brian Epstein: The Beatles’ Real ‘Nowhere Man’-An Appreciation.” IBT 25 Ausg. 2012. Http://www.ibtimes.com/brian-epstein-beatles-real-nowhere-man-appreciation-758815.
vii Evan Zimroth, “The Sex Diaries of John Maynard Keynes.” Intelligent Life 28 Jan. 2008. Http://moreintelligentlife.com/story/the-sex-diaries-of-john-maynard-keynes.
viii Alwyn W. Turner, Glam Rock: Dandies in the Underworld (London: V&A Publishing, 2013), p. 74.
ix Haroon Siddique, “Gary Glitter Arrested by Jimmy Savile Police.” The Guardian 28 Oct. 2012. Http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2012/oct/28/gary-glitter-arrested-jimmy-savile.
x James Sturcke, “Glitter Jailed For Abusing Young Girls.” The Guardian 03 Mar. 2006. Http://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/mar/03/ukcrime.uk.
xi Philip Carlo, The Night Stalker: The Life and Crimes of Richard Ramirez (New York: Kensington Publishing, 1996).