I have been boy-crazy since I can remember. Growing up, my ability to multi-task crushes was second only to my ability to accessorize. I loved boys. All boys. Tall boys, short boys, fat boys, skinny boys, jocks, stoners, musicians, mathematicians, boys who played D&D, and boys who played flute–I just loved boys.
The first celebrity I can remember crushing on, outside of the cartoon character Sinbad the Sailor, is Leonard Nimoy. I crushed on him until the day he died. Alongside, but never quite approaching his level of desirability, were Sean Connery, Shaun Cassidy, Parker Stevenson, Andy Gibb, Dirk Benedict, Harrison Ford, Robert Wagner, Pierce Brosnan, Matt Dillon, John Taylor, Simon Le Bon, Rupert Everett, Tommy Lee, Axl Rose, Geddy Lee, and pretty much every other even remotely attractive man who ever made it between the covers of a People or Tiger Beat magazine.
Except for David Bowie.
I never had a crush on David Bowie.
Oh, I loved him. I admired him. I would have given my teenage eye-teeth to have the Goblin King offer to love me so I could reject him like Sarah, but I never fixated on David Bowie as a romantic figure. Bowie was different.
David Bowie wasn’t the kind of man I could stir up in a daydream because he wasn’t a “man” to me. He was something more.
I guess he really made it onto my radar in the 80s, with Let’s Dance. He’d been blipping up randomly through my first decade of life, mostly as someone who looked like he belonged with the then big-eyeglass-wearing Elton John, or maybe the scarier people the teen girls across the street from my grandparents listened to. I wasn’t sure about him until MTV offered him up on a platter of heavy rotation.
For me, Serious Moonlight Bowie is one of the Top 3 most attractive Bowies. Tin Machine Bowie and the past 10 years of Bowie have been my favorite looks. But even becoming familiar with him at what was a fantastic level of attractiveness, during what were my peak years for Imaginary Celebrity Boyfriends, he was never a fling in my brain.
Blue Jean was the video that converted me.
I remember the first time I saw it. I couldn’t look away. The visual of that video horrified and titillated me in a way nothing ever had. I wanted to sneer, but I couldn’t stop looking. I wanted to dismiss David Bowie as some weirdo, but I couldn’t stop wanting to see more–to hear more. And, the whole time I had this notion that David Bowie wouldn’t mind if I laughed. David Bowie thought laughing was okay. He was there to entertain.
But I couldn’t laugh. So, I just watched him, and I started quietly learning all I could about him. The more I learned, the more I respected him. He was teaching me something about life. He was teaching me something about art. He was teaching me about how to live without being afraid of what other people had to say about my hair, or my teeth, or my clothes.
David Bowie was a mentor.
He was also something I kept private. I don’t listen to Bowie with other people around. There are a very few people I’ll talk with about Bowie. I take the Church of Bowie seriously. And it’s okay if you want to laugh at that. You can also laugh that Amsterdam is my favorite song of his because it is so, so, so awful that it comes back around to being amazing.
When I woke up Monday morning, I was already in a funk. I had announced to my authors that I was closing Robyn Lane Books, the day prior. I knew I would be announcing it widely on Monday. I knew that was going to make some people very happy, and I knew there would be some laughter at my expense. Sunday night, I’d gone to bed thinking about David Bowie, and a bunch of other artists who get out there in front of the world and do their best to give a show, only to fail in some way, or other.
The successful ones just go do the next show. They do the next project. They pick the next part. So, I figured I’d announce the failure, take a moment to grieve the loss, let the haters hate, and just go do the next show.
When I woke up Monday morning, David Bowie was gone.
After the shock wore off, I was making coffee in my kitchen, and I thought, “Wow. David Bowie is dead.” And I shrugged a bit. “Death can’t be that bad then. David Bowie’s been there. Anywhere Bowie’s been is already better.”
My thoughts continue to light on his family. I hope peace and joy come quickly to them.