Courtesy of amazon.com
David Bowie’s dirty secrets are anything but secrets. His colorful, deviant sex life has been a hot topic for decades, with names like Elizabeth Taylor, Bianca Jagger, Marianne Faithful, and Susan Sarandon never far from the tangle of gossip. Now, despite the fact that he is happily married and very much settled down, Bowie’s past eroticism is in the news yet again. A scandalous new biography by author Wendy Leigh, simply entitled Bowie, not only spreads out a smorgasbord of revealing stories for all to see, but questions if the star had an addiction to sex, attention, or both. Which for me, raises other important questions, like, does it matter?
Leigh’s journalistic rampage was almost as intense as Bowie’s sexual one. Racy interviews with music industry insiders, business associates, lovers, friends, and acquaintances were the fodder for her exposé. She actually uncovered a few sweet things in the process, like the fact that Bowie got his first record deal because his first wife, Angie, had such a big crush on him. Throughout her interviews, Leigh found out that Mercury Records executive Lou Reizner actually detested Bowie when he first met him. Reizner only signed him because he feared that Angie, who also worked at the company and was absolutely enamored with Bowie, would quit if he didn’t give him a chance. This is rather adorable, but if you are looking for adorable, you probably won’t find it in Bowie. Leigh goes on to describe Angie as an aggressive hedonist, and says the two “were notorious about weaving a sexual web around those who took their fancy.” The book also discusses how Bowie and Angie were actually having an affair with the same man when they first met.
But according to Leigh, his escapades started long before Angie. As a teenager from the working-class suburb of Bromley, Bowie was terrified of succumbing to mental illness like his institutionalized brother. Leigh writes that he became determined to make it in the music industry and was “adept at playing London’s gay elite.” An acquaintance recalls in the chapter, “I said he would either be a gigantic star or make a lot of money in the Piccadilly men’s loo.”
The tell-all tale dishes out much worse than that, though. From his sexual relations with every man and woman employed at his record company, to his wild orgies with Mick Jagger in a four-foot deep “sex pit,” to his affair with Charlie Chaplin’s widow, Oona, who was nearly 20 years older than him, Bowie leaves nothing behind closed doors. There is even a shocking anecdote from guitarist Slash, who said he was just 8 years old when he came home to find Bowie naked with his mother.
As Leigh clumps together the musician’s personal details and wrings them like a wet mop, trying to find psychological explanations for his sexual fluidity and determine if sexual addiction was a factor, many fans wonder if the new book is in poor taste. With 67-year-old Bowie now happily married to supermodel Iman and currently a stay-at-home dad, perhaps this saga, as stimulating as it may be, is a story better left untold.