If there was a tap that could be turned to 'off' once the goodness has poured out then their sanity and our dreams could be preserved.
Twitter is a cess pit of wriggling worms of incontinent evil. But sometimes it throws up something nice.
Today on Twitter I bumped into a stand-up comedian making a joke about David Bowie’s well documented sex with a 15-year old girl in Los Angeles in the early-ish 1970s. The joke posited the question of whether Bowie’s artistic success and fame has allowed him to get away with paedophilia and, if so, if he could have had sex with even younger kids and remained beloved.
Hours later, someone else posted a connection to the full series of performances that Bowie made for The Midnight Special, a late night US TV variety show on NBC, around about the same time he had sex with the 15 year-old. Previously available piecemeal or not at all the whole series can now be viewed in all its desperate glory.
The playlist roams across his career up to that time, including a bunch of covers that were recorded for his Pinups album. Just a few months after killing off his Ziggy persona you can see Bowie exploring next steps - as well as referring back to his earlier late 60s mime and Anthony Newley, groovy mod era. He steps into warped prog rock with the opening 1984/Dodo medley. Mick Ronson is still on stage with him, more happily subdued now, for the full band footage, apparently shot at London’s Marquee club in front of a small, bemused, but well behaved audience.
A live vocal version of Sorrow is sung to track in a performance featuring the German trans star (and Bryan Ferry’s love interest) Amanda Lear and a male dance troupe who re-appear for a version of Aladdin Sane’s Time. The stand-out performance of Jean Genie could well be Ronson and the Spiders’ last hurrah. We finally get to see the otherwise hidden horn section and, even though Ronson breaks a string and fumbles the extended guitar solo at the end there does seem to be a bit of energy otherwise missing for the rest of the show.
Ending with a duet with Marianne Faithful (in a nun’s costume) for a version of Sonny and Cher’s I Got You, Babe the whole thing is kind of summed up, more of a student version of Rocky Horror (Bowie’s costumes look held together with pins) after the cast discovered their history teacher’s stash of cocaine than evidence of the legendary performer history and posterity would have us believe he always was.
Whether seeing this made the hyper-busy Bowie review the situation and make his semi-permanent move to LA or it was just subsumed into his increasingly coked up production process I don’t know. I do know that I have reached the end of my love affair with the pop singer, as I find out more about him and hear and see things that provide a negative counter-balance to his truly brilliant string of albums in the 1970s.
All the heroes end up being Jim Morrison’ed eventually. Iggy’s terrible metal albums. Lou’s headless guitar. Sly’s motorhome. The B52s’ Love Shack. Most performers, like most of us, don’t emerge well from close examination. If there was a tap that could be turned to ‘off’ once the goodness has poured out then their sanity and our dreams could be preserved. But there isn’t, we live under a deluge of digital archives that will flow until the electricity disappears, keeping every blemish alive and destroying cherished, mis-remembered memories.
Bowie is now the subject of a pedo ‘joke’ by a stand up. Think about that for a moment.