By Ren Jender
In high school the only legal place to listen to decent music was art class.“I like David Bowie”, my friend Shirley opined to the teacher, Mr. Baldacci.
He laughed and said, “I don’t think he likes you back.” Straight guys, even the arty ones pretended they didn’t understand why all the girls loved David Bowie.
Our Moms would notice in his posters and album covers the glittery slinky clothes and pale thin arms that aped a female fashion model’s. Mom would say, “He hardly looks like a man at all.” Mom’s type of man had a body and face like a side of beef. If she was still married that guy was part of the furniture stewing silently in front of the T.V. with a beer in his hand.
The boys in school were no better. In fifth or sixth grade some of them had been our friends. Their newfound pseudo-masculine veneer was a seventh or eighth-grade vintage at best. But already us girls had had our fill of boys shouting abuse from cars in parking lots. Our Moms would say, “That means they like you.”
David Bowie, skinny, skinny pretty, pretty was the type of boy other boys yelled shit at, the type of boy who would tell us years later that when he was a teenager he made a choice. “I thought if these guys were going to torment me anyway, I’d reeeeee-eee-ally give them a reason.” So he dressed more outrageously, acted more fey and used that persona as a form of judo against the world.
The boys in my school never had a clue: they were getting their asses kicked every time David Bowie was on the radio. In one verse his voice so low, it broke and in the next verse so high he could’ve been Diana Ross. Girls couldn’t resist singing along.
Of course David Bowie liked us. He was us. Shirley explained to Mr. Baldacci, “He’s bi.”David Bowie would later deny he was bisexual, put out some wildly successful, crappy music and acquire an ex-model wife with breast implants and a baby, but I prefer to remember him as the guy from the seventies who fucked Mick Jagger.
Flipping through teen magazines I see the David Bowie I loved
on every other page. His slender, hairless body reborn as Orlando Bloom’s. His ivory-girl complexion mapped onto the faces of the young male cast members of The O.C. Straight guys still say, “I don’t get it.”
In a drag-king contest I despaired over the taste in music—and men—Jon Bon Jovi?! Fifty Cent?! Who wanted to be these guys when she could be a queen for a day? All those girls in the lesbian clubs with precisely cut, bleached-blonde hair wearing fashions and shoes out of GQ by way of Mars, the illegitimate daughters of David Bowie: hear my plea.
Bind your breasts. Wear a feather boa. Make sure to put on a functional dick. Because I don’t know if you’ll win or lose, but I can guarantee: you will get laid.