Obit

The Thin White Corpse

January 18, 2016

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David Bowie as the

Another day, another dead British rock star who famously flirted with fascist symbolism.

Two weeks ago it was Lemmy, and now comes word that David Bowie has finally floated away into outer space for the last time. Ground Control has forever lost all contact with Major Tom.

Most of the eulogies are predictably lionizing Bowie for being a sexual pioneer, a cross-dressing male chanteuse who made bisexuality cool in the early 1970s with his gender-bending androgyny and rumored homo affair with Mick Jagger. They credit Bowie with helping to create today’s forward-looking society in which gender dysphoria and same-sex activity are not only accepted, they are framed as innately virtuous.

Bowie isn’t getting nearly as much press for his extensively documented mid-1970s fascist obsessions. At the height of his fame”€”I remember the boardwalk in Wildwood, NJ around 1975 when it seemed as if every other girl was wearing a “Diamond Dogs” T-shirt”€”Bowie ditched the “Ziggy Stardust” persona that made him famous and morphed into a character he called the “Thin White Duke,” whom he would later describe as “a very Aryan, fascist type; a would-be romantic with absolutely no emotion at all but who spouted a lot of neo-romance.”

“Whether it was all an elaborate effort to prove to the world that he wasn’t a Nazi, only Bowie and his hairdresser knew for sure.”

In his earlier works Bowie had cited Nietzsche and Himmler, but a string of comments he made in 1975-6 really dribbled the Nazi basketball straight up to the hoop:

Rock stars are fascists. Adolf Hitler was one of the first rock stars….Think about it. Look at some of his films and see how he moved. I think he was quite as good as Jagger. It’s astounding. And boy, when he hit that stage, he worked an audience. Good God! He was no politician. He was a media artist. He used politics and theatrics and created this thing that governed and controlled the show for 12 years. The world will never see his like again. He staged a country….People aren’t very bright, you know? They say they want freedom, but when they get the chance, they pass up Nietzsche and choose Hitler because he would march into a room to speak and music and lights would come on at strategic moments….I think I might have been a bloody good Hitler. I’d be an excellent dictator. Very eccentric and quite mad….I wouldn’t mind being the first English president of the United States, either. I’m certainly rightwing enough. (Interview with Playboy magazine, September 1976)

You’ve got to have an extreme right front come up and sweep everything off its feet and tidy everything up. Then you can get a new form of liberalism. There’s some form of ghost force liberalism permeating the air in America, but it’s got to go, because it’s got no foundation at all, apart from a set of laws that were established way back in the bloody 50s and early 60s and have no bearing at all in the 70s….So the best thing that can happen is for an extreme right government to come. It’ll do something positive at least to cause commotion in people and they’ll either accept the dictatorship or get rid of it. (Interview with NME magazine, August 1975)

In early 1976 Polish customs officials searched Bowie’s luggage and seized autobiographies of Albert Speer and Joseph Goebbels. Bowie also allegedly claimed to be writing a play about Goebbels. Later in April, he told a Swedish journalist “I believe Britain could benefit from a fascist leader.” What drew him the most infamy, however, was an alleged Sieg Heil he flashed the adoring crowd that greeted him at London’s Victoria Station on May 2, 1976 as he returned to England from a self-imposed article. Until his dying day Bowie insisted it was only a wave rather than a fascist salute and that it was insulting that people thought he’d be stupid enough to make such a gesture in public. He also insisted that all the pro-fascist comments were merely the result of being “out of my mind, totally, completely crazed” from ingesting Himalayan-sized mountains of cocaine during a dark, paranoid time in his life when he was storing his hair and nail clippings in his refrigerator to help cast magic spells against the legions that wished him harm.

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