Eagle-eyed redditor collectwin recently re-watched Labyrinth and spotted David Bowie’s well-placed, but camouflaged face in a few scenes. I’ve seen this film numerous times and have never noticed these wonderful details before. I guess that’s the difference between VHS and Blu-ray, eh?
Christiane F. - Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo (“Christiane F. – We Children from Bahnhof Zoo” in English) is a 1981 German film based on the autobiographical recordings of a young heroin addict and prostitute in West Berlin. It was one of the most successful German films of that year, going on to become a worldwide cult hit, but one that stirred up a lot of (I think justifiable) controversy.
Vera Christiane Felscherinow
Two journalists from Stern magazine, Kai Herrmann and Horst Rieck, met the girl, Vera Christiane Felscherinow (born May 20, 1962) in 1978 when she was a witness against a john who paid underage prostitutes with heroin. The reporters were shocked to the extent of the escalating teenage drug problem and spent over two months interviewing Christiane and other young junkies and prostitutes (of both genders) who congregated near the Berlin Zoo. They ran several articles and a book Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo, covering four years (ages 12-15) of her life on the streets, was published in 1979.
Christiane lived with her mother in a bleak West Berlin neighborhood full of the sort of postwar high-rise apartment blocks that were often hives of social problems. She became fascinated by a discothèque that she had read about called “Sound” and although she was only 11-years-old, too young to be admitted, she was able to get into the club. There she fell in with a fast crowd who were experimenting with various drugs and by the time she was only 14, she was turning tricks to feed her habit in the Bahnhof Zoo train station.
When the film—directed by Oscar-winner Uli Edel—was released in 1981 it was a huge hit in Germany, and elsewhere, turning Christiane into somewhat of a celebrity in Europe, a real-life “Go Ask Alice” who had great fashion sense and cool hair. And this was the problem: Although the film does not intend in any way to glamorize the life of a heroin-addicted teenage prostitute, it inadvertently does. The fact that the actress who played Christiane F. in the film, Natja Brunckhorst, was so beautiful didn’t help matters. Soon teenage girls were emulating both the cinematic “Christiane” and the real-life Christiane’s hair style and clothes. The Bahnhof Zoo station even became somewhat of a Japanese tourist destination, for a while.
Actress Natja Brunckhorst and David Bowie
I saw this film when it came out, when I was a teenager myself, and I can recall thinking that a) Natja Brunckhorst was super hot and that b) doing some drugs with such a cute girl and going to a David Bowie concert (he’s seen in the film performing and provided the soundtrack music) seemed like a really good time to me. I can certainly understand why why German youth advocates were concerned at the time by the way impressionable young girls saw Christiane F. as a role model.
Thirty-some years after it was released, the film still has that undiminished heroin chic quality going for it. This comment was left on YouTube just one week ago:
Amazing film. Amazing book. She was so beautiful. So clever. Such a shame she ruined her life. But she’s a hero. And maybe I’m the only one who thinks this, but it looks to me kinda attractive,you know. I mean,seventies, Berlin, David Bowie, freedom,it all looks so great! Today it’s awful.. Like everything.
The couple also appeared in the 1983 German film Decoder, along with Neubaten’s F.M. Enheit, William Burroughs and Genesis P-Orridge (you can read about the film at The End of Being) (I suppose this is as good a place as any to tell you that I once answered the phone at a German friend’s apartment. I had to take a message and when the caller said “Tell her Christiane F. called” I just HAD to ask if she was THE Christiane F. and she said yeah and seemed really annoyed with me!)
Although she has been able to support herself from author’s royalties for many years, Christiane F.‘s life has been anything but easy, She’s been on and off drugs since her teens and at one point a few years ago, she lost custody of her young son. In 2011 she was caught up in a drugs sweep when police searched her bag at the Berlin train station, Moritzplatz, a known haven for junkies, but no narcotics were found on her person. As you might expect, every couple of years the German media check in with her to “see how she is doing.”
Below, Sentimentale Jugend, live (with Christiane F. on guitar) in Berlin, 1981.
Hand-painted sneakers featuring Nick Cave and Bowie as Aladdin Sane by Finland-based artist, Erika Works.
It looks like she does custom orders, too. Someone in the comments inquired about a pair of Leonard Cohen shoes, and Erika Works said it would cost them around 40€ for the art (that does not include the price of the shoes, tho).
At some point in 1984, when I was 18, I was approached by a woman who identified herself as a casting agent, near the American Embassy on London’s Grosvenor Square.
Would you be interested in doing a screen test for the new Stanley Kubrick project?
Why, yes, of course, I would most certainly be interested in that!
Would you be willing to get all of your hair chopped off? Like in an military buzz-cut?
That I was considerably less enthusiastic about. I had long hair then and I was… rather attached to it.
Obviously, in retrospect, she was casting for long-haired young guys willing to have their heads shorn for Full Metal Jacket. I took her card but never went for the screen test.
I’ll bet David Bowie wishes he’d had made a similar decision before losing his locks for a blink and you’ll miss ‘im cameo in 1969’s The Virgin Soldiers. Aside from a two-second cameo as a falling down drunk soldier in the background of a bar scene, the rest of Bowie’s performance ended up on the cutting room floor.
New York City-based artist E.V. Svetova (aka Katyok on deviantART), designs these oddly-beautiful David Bowie dolls. According to her page, she does “all of the customization and painting, as well as most of the garment design and construction.”
Some of these shots are based on iconic Mick Rock portraits of Bowie. Extra points for the mini Kansai Yamamoto knock-offs!
Unfortunately none of the dolls are for sale. My husband was crushed by this news.
When his debut album flopped in 1967, David Bowie thought his pop career was over. The years of practice and ambition had sadly delivered nothing but the indifference of the public (who preferred The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s) and the bewilderment of critics, who could not quite understand this young singer (who sounded like Anthony Newley) and delivered such diverse and original songs. Bowie had discovered the width of his talent, but not its depth. Understandably, disheartened, Bowie considered packing it all in and becoming a Buddhist monk at the Samye Ling Monastery in Scotland, but fate played a hand and he soon found himself under the influence of a charismatic fan - the brilliant dancer, performer and choreographer Lindsay Kemp.
Kemp loved Bowie’s first album, and used one its tracks “When I Live My Dream” for one of his shows. Kemp offered Bowie a new career - as dancer, actor and member of Kemp’s dance troupe
On 28 December 1967, David Bowie made his theatrical debut in Kemp’s mime Pierrot in Turquoise or, The Looking Glass Murders at the New Theater in Oxford. Bowie wrote and performed the music, and co-starred as Cloud, alongside Kemp’s Pierrot, Jack Birkett’s Harlequin, and Annie Stainer’s Columbine.
The production was still in rehearsal when it played for its one night at the New Theater, which perhaps explains why the Oxford Mail described the show as “something of a pot-pourri,” though it highlighted Bowie’s contribution for praise:
David Bowie has composed some haunting songs, which he sings in a superb, dreamlike voice. But beguilingly as he plays Cloud, and vigorously as Jack Birkett mimes Harlequin, the pantomime isn’t a completely satisfactory framework for some of the items from his repertoire that Mr Kemp, who plays Pierrot, chooses to present….
...No doubt these are shortcomings Mr. Kemp will attend to before he presents Pierrot in Turquoise at the Prague Festival at the invitation of Marceau and Fialka next summer. No mean honour for an English mime troupe.
The mime told the story of Pierrot and his attempts to win the love of his life, Columbine. Of course things are never simple, and Columbine falls for Harlequin, and is then killed by Pierrot.
After a few tweaks, Pierrot in Turquoise or The Looking Glass Murders opened at the Rosehill Theater, Whitehaven, before its proper run at the Mercury Theater, and Intimate Theater, both London, in March 1968….
More on Bowie & Kemp in ‘The Looking Glass Murders’, after the jump…
By the time she was just 25, irrepressible Scottish songstress Lulu was already a firmly established member of the British “light entertainment” pantheon, having come to fame in the early 60s with her cover of “Shout!” and presenting many a “family friendly” TV variety series.
A 1974 chance meeting with David Bowie—then the most “far out” rock star the world had ever seen—at a party in Paris saw her take the (for her) unusual step of recording two of his songs for a single, the tunes being “The Man Who Sold The World” and for the flip-side, “Watch That Man.” The idea was to sort of update her cozy image for a new decade, and who better to employ for this task than David Bowie, who told her he wanted to record a “motherfucker” of a song for her (They also had a brief fling, as recounted in her book).
The numbers were produced by Bowie and Mick Ronson, and Bowie played guitar and sax as well as doing backing vocals. “The Man Who Sold The World” was re-imagined as a cold, sleazy cabaret vamp. Bowie had Lulu smoke cigarette after cigarette to get her voice sounding as scratchy as possible. Bolstered by several Top of the Pops appearances, the single went top 10 hit in Britain—her first in five years—and was a hit in several other European countries in 1974.
These fan-shot clips of David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars in Dunstable, supporting the then brand-new Ziggy Stardust album on June 21, 1972, have been sync’d up to live recordings. I’m unsure if the audio is from the same show, sometimes they’re really in sync, other times less so, but it’s close enough for rock and roll.
YouTube user bri2kay is who we have to thank for this Ziggiful bounty. Considering the scarcity of Ziggy-era footage, this is gold. And there’s a lot more where these came from.
Today, his 66th birthday, sees David Bowie releasing a new single and video, “Where Are We Now?” and announcing the release of an upcoming album, The Next Day, his first in a decade.
The Next Day was produced by long-time collaborator Tony Visconti in New York. The new song, an elegiac ode to the past apparently, has an accompanying video directed by installation artist Tony Oursler that was shot in the auto repair shop underneath the apartment where Bowie lived in Berlin in the late 1970s.
As thin as a matchstick with a freshly ignited flame at the tip, David Bowie makes an appearance on The Dick Cavett Show in November of 1974. Chatting about Diane Arbus, mime, his wife Angie and his son Zowie, this makes for a fascinating and intimate 30 minutes. Songs get sung, including “1984,” “Young Americans” and “Footstompin’.”
The intersection of Radio Soulwax and David Bowie should be enough to pique even the most casual music listener’s interest, but fear not, the brothers Dewaele have delivered something truly special with the dj-set-cum-art-film Dave.
Dave is a 60 minute long megamix of Bowie music, arranged and mixed by Soulwax in their own inimitable stye, and accompanied by visuals put together specially for the piece by film maker Wim Reygaert. In true gender-bending fashion, Bowie is portrayed by a woman in the film, which takes its visual cues from some of the most recognizable moments in Bowie’s long career.
Soulwax are the undisputed kings of the audio/visual mash-up (it’s hard to believe the 2manydjs “As Heard on Radio Soulwax Pt. 2” album is ten years old already!) Here’s their reasoning for dedicating a whole hour of their work to David Bowie:
Our homage to the man whose ability to change whilst remaining himself has been a massive influence on us. There are many legends in the music industry but for us, there is no greater than the mighty Dave. We’ve included all things Bowie, whether that is original songs, covers, backing vocals, production work or reworks we made, to attempt to give you the full scope of the man’s genius.
For the visual side to this mix our friend Wim Reygaert (who also made the amazing film for Into The Vortex) came up with the most ambitious film for RSWX, taking us on a fever dream time travel through the man’s career starring the amazing Hannelore Knuts as Dave. We’ve got to extend a special thank you to the cast and crew and everyone involved for putting so much time and energy and heart and soul into this amazing film, it is a pure labour of love for the phenomenon that is Bowie.
There are lots more treats available at radiosoulwax.com, including apps for iPhone and Android, but before you go rooting around in there, check out Dave: