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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Angie Bowie Tells Us Everything

Posted By on Thu, Mar 17, 2011 at 3:03 PM

  • Courtesy Angie Bowie
As Mick Jagger will tell you: Angie Bowie is not one to keep a secret. The eccentric ex-wife of David was a style icon in her own right and played a significant role in creating the cult of David Bowie, before settling for a still-glamorous life of author and AIDS activist. This weekend, Angie comes back to San Francisco after 13 years. She will be performing at the Trannyshack David Bowie Tribute on Friday night, and you can also catch her in a more intimate setting as she sign copies of her memoir, Backstage Passes, at A Different Light bookstore on Saturday at 1 p.m. She spoke with us about the importance of drag performance, her appreciation for large breasts and what it takes to be an it-girl today.

David wrote "Golden Years" and "Prettiest Star" (which he played over the phone) for you. Is writing a song the quickest way to a girl's heart?
Yes! I'll write one for you right now!

You auditioned for the lead role in the Wonder Woman TV series, but reports claim the role went to Lynda Carter after you refused to wear a bra. Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Yes, I am a feminist front and center!

You are the special guest this Friday at Trannyshack for their David Bowie tribute, what are your thoughts on drag performance as an art form and as part of queer culture?
Drag influences general thinking about government policy. The lessons learned watching a drag show are useful tools to wage public opinion. The camouflage of switch-gender is the mask of anonymity. We are still conditioned to be secretive about our real opinions for fear of repercussions. In a club watching a drag show, we mock the things with which we find fault. Just as priests and churches have been carrying the message of nationalism even during times of occupation, drag has carried the right to criticize and comment in the name of entertainment, satire and humor.

Can anything be considered "avant garde" nowadays (uh, an egg on the red carpet)? Or have we seen it all?
Mother Nature has usurped the role of entertainment director. The media administrators are spoiled by the free staging and non-union activity of the climate, the new star of stage and screen.

Who are some up-and-coming performers and artists, you think, are pushing the envelope?
I like Lady Gaga, Christina, Pink, to each generation come their own role models.

When writing your memoir, Backstage Passes, did you consult with any friends from the past? Did you keep a journal? What was the most challenging part about revisiting that era?
I did keep a journal, day-to-day of work, but all the journals were left in Switzerland and subsequently auctioned or lost. For the better part of a year, I was interviewed by Patrick Carr who was my co-author. As I had already written Free Spirit, the issues were not to tell only the story of my involvement in the marketing of David Bowie but also to chat about what it was like in Europe in the late 1960s and 1970s with special emphasis on bands.

Angie and David Bowie in their partying days with Mick and Bianca Jagger, Ringo Starr, Lulu, Mick Ronson, and more. - COURTESY ANGIE BOWIE.
  • Courtesy Angie Bowie.
  • Angie and David Bowie in their partying days with Mick and Bianca Jagger, Ringo Starr, Lulu, Mick Ronson, and more.
You also wrote Bisexuality: A Pocket Guide, how did you come to embrace that sexual orientation for yourself?
In Backstage Passes, I tell the story of Connecticut College for Women and my girlfriend at Katherine Blunt House. When I returned to England to go to college at Kingston Polytechnic I met Lou Reizner the European head of Mercury Records and then I met Dr. Calvin Mark Lee who is from San Francisco. Calvin began my conversation and understanding about bisexuality.

Why do you think so many people (including gay men) are dismissive of bisexuality?
Because they lie, brother!

You founded AIDSBeGone, an organization to help find an AIDS vaccine. What can you tells us about any progress that's been made? Are you hopeful?
I am so pessimistic I could spit but that is not a reason to quit. That is a reason to become even more aggressive and outspoken, whip them into shape, lay those snakes out straight!

If you were to have a wild rumor that you were found sleeping naked next to a fellow female performer who would you want her to be and why?
Let's see, large breasts always go down well with me and... I think we'll move on. Leave that one alone....

You met David Bowie when you were 19, I've met a lot of 19-year-olds who still can't hold their liquor. Were you mature for your age, or have we extended adolescence?
I didn't drink liquor or smoke cigarettes or do drugs so I was already ahead of the game. I drank a sherry before dinner and maybe a glass of wine with a meal but never had a cocktail and never beer. The good thing is one makes much more rational decisions if not impaired by alcohol but having said that, shit happens. Today, we don't reach enough folk about the stupidity of drinking as a youngster. You're still growing -- that shit will impair your growth.

What would be your advice for anyone wanting to become an it-girl today?
I would recommend becoming a scientist, physicist, mathematician and take a law degree as an extra, study at least 3 to 4 languages; then layer your accomplishments. An "it-girl" can be a tawdry thing, a tragic description. We don't want to encourage that, we want to encourage sparkling brilliance, personal happiness, a good fulfilled life. Front and fortitude, beauty and brains! Then you can do anything! Is that not true?

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