THE PRETTIEST STAR
David Bowie was the first pop star I was aware of. Not a fan of – not at first, anyway – but aware of. ‘Hunky Dory’ was released in ’71 – on December 17th, the day I should’ve been born coincidentally, except that I was two and a half weeks overdue which meant I ended up being a Capricorn, like David. I was nearly two years old when ‘Hunk Dory’ came out. My mother bought it. ‘Changes’, ‘Oh, You Pretty Things’, ‘Life On Mars’, they all became instant classics, but it was the track ‘Kooks’ – Bowie’s paean to his infant son, Zowie – which made me smile and gurgle and toddle around in circles. My mother’s brother, Kevin, seventeen years younger than her, was ten when I was born. Uncle Kevin was obsessed with Bowie. I mean OBSESSED. Every millimetre of his bedroom walls, even his ceiling, was covered in pictures of his idol. We’d go to my grandmother’s every Saturday, and the first thing my elder brother and I would do is run up to our beloved, cool, Uncle Kev’s room, where he’d still be in bed, and leap on him like overexcited puppies. I probably heard my first swear words from Uncle Kev. Each Bowie incarnation naturally ended up on Kev’s wall – I vividly recall Ziggy’s menacing stare looking down at me, Aladdin Sane’s futuristic red flash and downcast gaze, that sprawling half-man Diamond Dog with its genitals on display. Uncle Kev even had a mullet exactly like Bowie’s – and he was tall, skinny and handsome enough to carry it off. Then came ‘Young Americans’, and with it, Kevin adopted Bowie’s Soul Boy style. Then The Thin White Duke. Then Kev was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. He died before his twenty-first birthday. My brother and I inherited his records. It was ten months before ‘Scary Monsters’ was released. Kev never saw the ‘Ashes to Ashes’ video, co-starring the inimitable Steve Strange. But I did. I was eleven. It had a huge effect. I became obsessed with New Romantics, started dabbling with make-up, and within a couple of years I was a fully-fledged, nightclubbing New Romantic, dancing off my face to ‘Let’s Dance’ when I should’ve been having sleepless nights worrying about having done no revision for my impending O-level mocks. I was living my own ‘Teenage Wildlife’ – hopefully Bowie would have approved. I never met Bowie, but I did do Iman’s make-up a few years back. She has a great sense of humour; we laughed a lot that day. The biggest compliment I’ve ever had was Iman saying, ‘You remind me of my husband’. I still think of Uncle Kevin almost every day. I play Bowie almost every day. My world was sadder without Uncle Kevin. The world would have been duller without David Bowie. But they’ll both live on forever in my world. Everything is hunky dory.