David Bowie was my Mummy

David Bowie’s face has never been his own in my eyes. I see my mother. Even their expressions are linked. He is imprinted profoundly on my psyche. Mum was a wild, 17 year old redhead, when she gave birth to me on 12/12/66. She possessed imperfectly asymmetrical beauty and wore the soul of a seer. If Bowie and Kate Hepburn had a lovechild, BaBam, me Mum. Her name is Katy and she had a successful modeling career in Toronto and New York in her 20s/30s, (1970–1980); making me a kid that grew up at shoots, cattle calls, and discos. My earliest memory is waking up at dawn on the dance floor of The Passionella, which was festooned with a gigantic psychedelic phallus painted by Peter Max, worried I was late for Kindergarten. It is impossible for me to describe how fabulous my mother’s wardrobe was, and how much this glamour puss bore a uncanny resemblance to Bowie. One eye or side of her face, beautifully off. Her downward reaching smile with teeth that gesture whichever way they damn well please. Her cheekbones, beyond high, strikingly angular. Her nostrils a flare like a horse about to bolt. Her expression glimmering with “I know all the pain of life, but I choose to thumb my beautiful nose at its terminal nature and dance naked while Rome burns.” My mother’s beauty mesmerized me as a child. She looked stunning when she smoked, like the thinker! Her thin, almost boyish frame, more Marie Antoinette than Monroe. We hung out in Yorkville in Toronto, which was beyond a scene at the time. Mum was the face of Schwarzkopf shampoo, so I grew up in the backrooms of salons like Hairacy; my playmates, all the Queens of T.O.’s Boyztown. Gender was liquid for me from the get go. Mum’s red hair was a beacon, that would get us stopped on the street because people thought she was Bowie. My Dad, David, was off in the seminary at the time, so having a stunning Mum, people mistook for a genius androgynous Rock God, was comforting. I had both parents, wrapped in one absolutely fabulous fairy. A lot of magical, trippy stuff was happening around me, as the merry band of creative travelers that Mum ran with, had a kind of invented reality. Gilda Radner was my babysitter. Katy could also out, “it’s all about me,” Blanche and Scarlett, so anytime Bowie came up, there would be a reminder of this dopplegingersim. So I kept him a bit at arms length, in protest of the consumptive nature of this tangled association. I wonder who Bowie would have been to me if he had looked like someone else’s Mum, instead of mine. When I heard the news today I was recording in the studio in NY. I thought of her immediately. My mother’s husband was also ravaged by cancer, so cancer and grief belong to her as well. None of this is her fault. She is a glorious, tender being, doing her best, feeling outcast and alien in a strange world. I am still trying to sort my soul from hers, and hers from everything else in this existence. Fly high Starman. Be free for the both of us. Be free for all of us.