Let's talk about David Bowie's penis. I know that may seem a little sordid but we here at Silly Little Show-Biz Book Club Incorporated are committed to unearthing only the sleaziest and least reputable of truths. About David Bowie's penis. Thankfully, Angela Bowie, Lady Stardust herself, shares our commitment to trawling through the gutters in search of sordid sexual revelations.
Lady Bowie knows exactly what readers are looking for and delivers it without shame or self-consciousness. She even apologizes, more or less, for straying too far from her comfort zone of sex and sleaze. In the midst of a passage about the difficulty of her son Zowie "Why Did You Give Me That Fucking Name, Dad, I Hate You, I Hate You, I Hate You!" Bowie's arduous birth Angela offers the following mea culpa: "Poor you. You buy this book for the celebrity scoops and rock and roll blow jobs, and here you are, stuck in boring old real-life problems such as the complications of childbirth."
Backstage Passes: My Life With David Bowie's Cock is consequently long on celebrity scoops and rock and roll blow jobs, and blissfully short on boring old real-life problems, unless worrying about what kind of drugs best fuel omnisexual week-long, star-filled fuckfests is your idea of a boring old real-life problem. If so, I envy you.
But back to the matter at hand: David Bowie's penis. According to Angela, the Thin White Duke boasts a long white trouser snake he cheekily calls the "Lance of Love". Alas, the Lance apparently has a biological aversion to Angela's honey pot. In a passage no more or less embarrassingly candid than anything else in the book, the authoress writes about how the Lance of Love would get a painful rash every time it explored Angela's secret garden (Warning: I am so going to run out of sleazy euphemisms before this piece is through). So gosh darn it, David would really love to perform his husbandly duties but is forced by fate's cruel whims to satisfy his sexual needs instead with every other man, woman, transsexual, she-male or transvestite in the U.K and abroad. Around the same time David reportedly also sold Angela a prominent bridge in Brooklyn and some magic beans.
So, in the grand tradition of rock royalty, David and Angela Bowie spend the duration of the book fucking anything that moves and many things that don't. And, in the grand tradition of married couples, their union was largely a loveless, sexless affair. For long stretches it appears that David Bowie will stick his dick inside anything that isn't his wife and that her husband is the only rock star Angela wasn't fucking.
Alternative lifestyle porn and straight-up porn in equal measure, Backstage Passes seems obsessed with proving that Angela swung a much larger cock, metaphorically speaking, than her legendary ex-husband. Backstage Passes is a quintessential fuck-you book, a lurid tell-all designed to make Ziggy Stardust look as bad as possible. So while Backstage Passes acknowledges David's shape-shifting genius and seismic influence on popular culture it also depicts him as a cold, calculating, emotionally distant, passive-aggressive womanizer averse to discussing his feelings. In other words, David Bowie is a man. Maybe he wasn't/isn't half the man or woman Angela was/is but he's a man all the same.
At this point I should probably concede that I am a shameless David Bowie fanboy. I consider him probably one of the five most important and influential artists of the second half of the twentieth century. I'd put him right up there with The Beatles, Prince, Bob Dylan and Devin The Dude. So Angela could write that David held baby-seal clubbing parties in his spare time and killed nuns for sport and I'd respond "Yeah, but Hunky Dory! and Aladdin Sane! and Ziggy Stardust! and "Young Americans"! Cut the man some slack!"
Beyond establishing that Angela got way more tail, male and female, than her philandering spouse, Backstage Passes makes a semi-convincing case for its author as the unsung architect behind her husband's early career. In the good times at least, Angela played a vital role in her husband's nascent career as a combination enforcer, mom, fashion advisor and all-around consigliere. She kicked down doors, confronted the right people, made a home, cooked, cleaned, sewed and helped define the look and attitude of glam rock, with its winking androgyny and giddy, glittery excess.
From the very start, Angela and David's union was less a case of true love than a pragmatic business alliance. Angela vowed to help transform her husband into a superstar. David vowed to do the same for his wife. As you might imagine, the first part turned out far better than anyone could have imagined. The second part? Not so much, as David was too busy making his way through boxes of Bolivian marching powder and playing star-maker to his army of mistresses and kept women to help his wife realize her exceedingly fuzzy theatrical and professional ambitions.
While Bowie quickly rocketed to international prominence Angela's career more or less peaked with a disastrous audition to play Wonder Woman on TV and a tension-filled guest appearance on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. To fill the long, lonely hours Angela set about screwing the entire Western world, from famous folks like Marianne Faithful and various drummers to scores of glamour girls and one-night stands.
Oh, the hypocrisy! In Backstage Passes, what's good for the goose is reprehensible for the gander. Angela's rampant drug use is depicted as a refreshing manifestation of her fun-loving, open-minded, day-seizing lust for life and willingness to overlook the restrictions and hang-ups of squares while David's equally voluminous drug consumption is portrayed as the pathetic compulsion of a weak-willed man-child scared to face the world sober. Similarly, Angela's need to fuck all of her husband's conquests, preferably before he has a chance to slip them the Lance of Love, is portrayed as a bold fuck you to repressive sexual double standards while her husband's philandering is seen as sad, empty and ultimately more than a little pathetic.
But before Backstage Passes devolves into a guided tour of marital hell Angela captures some of the giddy excitement of her ex-husband's glorious rise from theater freak and part-time mime to gender-smashing international superstar. Angela makes it clear that before things got very, very bad they were almost unbelievably, inconceivably good. She indelibly documents a fantasyland where the drugs were plentiful, the sex was free and social and sexual revolution lurked around every corner. David emerges as something of a distant and Machiavellian cipher, but the freaky gay sub-culture that helped create his legend is vividly and energetically captured.
After a certain point, however, David more or less disappears from the narrative, an absentee husband on endless coke runs. At this point Angela falls hopelessly in love with Roy Martin, a session drummer and renaissance man who falls into bed with Angela, then tells her she's in horrible shape and an atrocious lover. This, dear reader, is the book's primary hero. Martin lovingly, patiently teaches his eager and overjoyed disciple the Zen of sex like a libidinous Yoda. It isn't long until the master and his pupil are enjoying ecstatic, blunted threesome with seventeen-year-old schoolgirls in Catholic school finery.
David, meanwhile, devolves deeper and deeper into an abyss of coke-fueled paranoia until he calls Angela from Los Angeles to inform her that witches are trying to steal his man-seed so they can create the new Anti-Christ. Ever the dutiful wife, Angela swoops in to save her husband from his semen-stealing Satanic foes but by that point they'd reached a dispiriting endgame in their relationship. The sensitive young artist of the book's early chapters has been replaced by a drug-addled monster and a lousy lay to boot.
Yet I had a hard time disliking David Bowie, let alone hating him. How could I? If anything, I came away with an even greater respect for the man and his music. It boggles the mind to think that Bowie created some of rock's most enduring music while fucking everyone in the known universe and whacked out of his mind on coke, booze and various other instruments of sensory derangement. The drugged-up, financially fucked David Bowie gave the world Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and The Man Who Fell To Earth. The clean, sober and financially responsible Bowie gave us Tin Machine and Never Let Me Down, an album that, ironically enough, let every down. Like Hunter S. Thompson, I do not want to promote drugs or insanity. But they certainly seem to have worked for David Bowie.
Angela infers here that without her invaluable assistance and nurturing her ex-husband would be a sad little shell of a man. History has proven her right. Today, David Bowie is a penniless, forgotten, drug-crazed has-been who can be seen most days banging out "Space Oddity" on a cheap acoustic guitar for spare change in some of London's seedier neighborhoods. Though I hear that if you ask politely and toss him an extra pound or two I hear he's amenable to crooning a few bars of "The Man Who Sold The World" just for old times sake.