In the world of interesting-but-creepy news, Will Brooker, a professor of cultural studies at England’s Kingston University recently announced that he is spending the year dressing and acting like David Bowie for his research. For each stage of Bowie’s music career -- starting from his first garage groups in the late ‘60s all the way through to present day -- Brooker has been wearing recreations of Bowie’s wild and constantly changing wardrobe, following an approximation of Bowie's diet (red peppers and milk) and even moving to areas around England that Bowie lived in.
It’s a little hard to believe that such an experiment exists or is needed, but he’s been commissioned to write an account of his research, so that means somebody wants to know. Then again, who wouldn’t want to know what it’s like to be the guy that created Ziggy Stardust?
There’s no debate: Bowie is one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th century. So great that, in 1997, he sold “Bowie bonds” to those who wanted to profit from his music. (When he went public with his publishing royalties that year, he made $50 million.)
He’s also married to the model Iman, continues to make great music and doesn’t need to talk to the press to sell his albums. But it hasn’t always been easy for Bowie; there have been quite a few moments in his life that he probably doesn’t wish on his worst enemies. Here are some of them that Prof. Brooker should consider before taking on a task as mammoth as living as Bowie:
1. He was punched in the face so hard his eyes are mismatched
If you’ve seen photos of David Bowie, you've probably noticed one of his most striking features: he appears to have differently colored eyes. He was not born this way. When he was 14, he was in a fight with his friend George Underwood over a girl and Underwood was so mad at Bowie (then David Jones) he punched him in the face, right in his left eye. Underwood sliced Bowie's peeper, possibly with a ring he was wearing, and Bowie's injury was so bad that doctors thought he would be blind in that eye. After being hospitalized for four months and undergoing a series of operations, Bowie’s eyesight was saved but his pupil is permanently dilated and he has depth perception issues. As for Underwood, he's still friends with Bowie and even designed the covers of Bowie's earliest albums.
2. Admitting he was gay hurt his career so much he denied it just a few years later
In 1972, while being interviewed for an article in Melody Maker, Bowie admitted to the reporter that he was gay. He was just starting to dress as “Ziggy Stardust” and the revelation -- “I’m gay and always have been, even when I was David Jones” -- brought him a lot of media attention. Laws banning homosexuality in England had been reformed just five years before and Bowie’s coming out was socially equivalent to Neil Armstrong walking on the moon.