In the mid 1970s, David Bowie was working on a script that he wanted to turn into a film. The movie, conceived as a comedy, would star Bowie and the duo known as Flo & Eddie (Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan of the fabulous Turtles). Volman and Kaylan are funny dudes, and Bowie felt they were the guys to help make his film a cinematic success.
In late March 1976, Bowie flew Volman and Kaylan to New York City to meet and discuss his script notes, which were several hundred pages long.
Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman.
In his autobiography, Shell Shocked, Howard Kaylan wrote about the Bowie project.
Bowie flew Mark and me into New York at the end of the month to meet about his screenplay. It was a first-class journey that wound up at his Madison Square Garden concert, backstage. Then we went to the Village for more of the same. Limos took us everywhere, although we got to see David for all of about ten minutes. Still, I don’t think there were any complaints about the trip. Whatever Bowie wanted.
There was a screening of The Man Who Fell to Earth, starring Bowie, at a theater in Westwood. David had sent us our invitations in a large cardboard box. What the hell? Ah, also enclosed were two copies, some 750 pages each, of David’s screenplay notes for a feature film to be called The Traveler. The film was to deal with the very real alter ego that Bowie had created for himself, that of the Thin White Duke. Eschewing air travel, David would only travel to and from American via ocean liner where, once aboard, he would assume a disposable two-week identity where his lines between fact and fiction blurred and he regaled the other passengers with amazing tales of his conquests and heroics.
There was a lot to take and it offered a great many opportunities for fantasy and wordplay. I was excited. It took many hours to read this “outline,” as David called it.
About a year and a half later, Volman & Kaylan returned to New York to go over the film idea with Bowie in more detail. They met up at the Mayfair Hotel, where Bowie was staying. The three spent the next couple of days hanging out, culminating with Volman and Kaylan interviewing Bowie for the Canadian TV program, 90 Minutes Live. After the interview, Flo & Eddie hugged Bowie and said their goodbyes.
The duo never heard another word about The Traveler.
Mark Volman, Ronnie Spector, David Bowie, and Iggy Pop. New York City, March 26, 1976.
A portion of the 90 Minutes Live interview is embedded below. The segment aired stateside on The Midnight Special in April 1978.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘I’m gonna kill you, Tin Man!’: Axl Rose’s knuckle-brawl with David Bowie over a girl, 1989
Little Ziggy: Photographs of a young David Bowie
When David Bowie was in Iggy Pop’s band: Their final concert
Happy Together: The Turtles in the 1960s