The Midnight Special
The 1980 Floor Show
Soon after David Bowie’s brief “retirement” he was already busy preparing for his first big public appearance since (apparently) leaving showbiz.
The 1980 Floor Show, Bowie’s special episode of The Midnight Special, the uber-popular US TV music program, was shot over the course of three days in October of 1973 with most of the footage being taped at The Marquee Club in London. The choreographed stage extravaganza included dancers, the members of Bowie’s Spiders from Mars band, Marianne Faithfull, The Troggs, glam flamenco group Carmen, and the transsexual muse of Salvador Dali, model and (later) singer Amanda Lear.
When it comes to the rehearsal footage in this post, as one YouTube commenter put it, you could cut the sexual tension between Bowie and Lear “with a knife.” Bowie looks ethereal clad in all in white with his signature bright red mullet and otherworldly good looks while he exchanges lines—I think from Lewis Carroll?—with Lear whose famous “come-hither” raspy voice purrs back at Bowie like a cat about to pounce on her prey. Here’s Bowie musing about why he choose The Marquee for his “happy unretirement party”:
There were a lot of clubs to go to in the Soho scene in the 60’s but The Marquee was top of the list, because musicians did hang out there, pretending to talk business and picking up gigs - but picking up girls mostly. One of my keenest memories of The Marquee in the ‘60’s was having a permanent erection because there were so many fantastic looking girls in there, it was all tourists, especially in summer, all flocking to London to get an R&B star. My final performance of Ziggy Stardust was at The Marquee. I wanted to go back there because I had so many good memories over the years.
The intimate footage shows Bowie and Lear laughing at each other as they each mess up their lines—it’s really quite something to see and feels more like a home movie than a high-powered television production. While the video quality is slightly lacking at times the audio more than makes up for it as does Bowie’s impossibly beautiful face which practically jumps off the screen. It’s yet another nostalgic and heartwarming look back at David Bowie—the indisputable personification of cool in his element. I know I’m not alone when I say that I’ll never, ever stop missing him, a feeling that this video reinforces all the more.
Amanda Lear and David Bowie, 1973.
Charmingly intimate footage of David Bowie and Amanda Lear rehearsing for ‘The 1980 Floor Show.’
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘She asked for my love and I gave her a dangerous mind’: Goodbye David Bowie from Dangerous Minds
Amanda Lear: 70s disco diva, fashion model, TV star and Salvador Dali’s transsexual muse
Ziggy Stardust’s last stand: David Bowie’s ‘1980 Floor Show’ Midnight Special