Often is the case with your heroes, you never want to let them go. For years, I’d absolutely dreaded the possibility of David Bowie leaving us; it just could not be. Pure denial is often the safest way with your idols; foolish, yes, but safe.
10th January 2016 marks the grey, weird, sad day that everyone’s favourite starman left this mortal coil and transcended to the other side. And boy, was I unprepared. Shock, disbelief, horror, denial, all washed over me with the might of a tsunami. This couldn’t be real right? Had to be a rumour. Facebook must have been hacked. Then, like wildfire, the news spread through the media, gaining momentum as it was officially confirmed in a tweet from his son, then more credible news sources. Fuck. What on earth would we do now?
Bowie, as an artist, human, entertainer, as my hero, was everything to me. The bastion of the strange and bawdy, the poster boy for the outsiders, he remained the constant thread that wove though my life, holding together a tapestry of beautiful times, sadness, change and occasional turmoil. His music formed the soundtrack to poignant moments in my life, his lyrics like an open love letter to all who heard them. As an awkward teen struggling with my self-identity, Bowie taught me and countless others that it was OK to be different, that it was alright to lay claim to being outside of the mainstream. It was perfectly cool to shun what society classed as normal and celebrate individuality. I was deeply intrigued by the man, the mythology and of course, his amazing music and flamboyant style. Bowie smashed through cultural barriers in a whirl of glittery, sexually-liberated flamboyance. Through characters such as Ziggy Stardust, Halloween Jack and Aladdin Sane he embodied the art of transformation, shaking conservative norms to the core and paving the way for gender fluidity and acceptance – after all, it didn’t matter if you were a boy or a girl, queer, straight, or from Mars.
For a time I fantasised that I was somehow related to Bowie, convincing myself for a good year or two that it made perfect, absolute sense that I shared DNA with one of modern music’s greatest innovators. In Bowie, I had found a kindred spirit, as many others had, and that knowledge was divine. Among many fond memories, his performance in Perth in 2004 for the Reality Tour remains as a pinnacle; a show that will forever be emblazoned in my memory as a true life highlight. Being a few rows back in a crowd of thousands, all rising to their feet as they heard the iconic first strains of ‘Rebel Rebel’, was a surreal, astounding experience. Seeing everyone around me reduced to tears and near-hysterical screams of pure joy as we caught our first glimpse of our larger-than-life hero, is something I will never forget. The show was impeccable and I felt electrified seeing and hearing him in the flesh.
As a makeup artist and creative type, Bowie’s art and iconic, chameleon style has filled my mind and soul with so much fire. The amazing, provocative costumes, the beautifully executed glam stage makeup, those boundary-defying music videos, that effortless individuality. Bowie’s ability to transform and stay relevant, all whilst remaining so true to himself and his art. I had so much respect and gratitude that someone out there just GOT it.
Bowie always just got it. He circled the perimeter of the mainstream, leering at it, taking bites out of it, all the while eschewing what the herd were doing and reinventing his sound and his style into something completely fresh and new. Over the decades, he has remained at the forefront, pushing the envelope, challenging the norm, blazing a trail so fucking huge and bright that it would spellbind and enlighten all that encountered his force. He filled hearts with desire and minds with a myriad of ideas and inspiration. He never stopped exploring and pioneering, reaching out to new audiences and blowing minds with his unique vision and amazing ability to engage, transgress and inspire.
He was completely one of a kind, untouchable, seemingly invincible. A hero for the downtrodden and forgotten; constantly creating such an insanely powerful connection to his fans through words, images, ideas and emotions. The ultimate chameleon who taught us it’s ok to be weird, as long as you own it. He never stopped re-inventing and creating, even up to his last masterpiece Blackstar; the final chapter of an amazing, larger-than-life existence that totally spellbound us all.
He will always be completely inimitable, a true, multi-talented trail-blazer who created magic, wonder and awe everywhere. I feel grateful and fortunate having lived in the same lifetime as the ultimate chameleon, pioneer and renaissance man.
Let’s never let him go.