People stared at the makeup on his face Laughed at his long black hair, his animal grace The boy in the bright blue jeans Jumped up on the stage Lady Stardust sang his songs Of darkness and disgrace
Of all the Bowie albums, Ziggy Stardust resonated with me the most. Sure, Bowie had some great songs and great albums, but this one is one I go back to regularly over the others because of this song and a handful of others. While no one ever directly referred to me as “Lady Stardust” during my senior year in high school (my most “goth” phase), it was whispered that I was going to be one of those “rock and roll suicides”, and any time Bowie was played on a boombox in the “mall” (greenspace where most of us misfits ate our lunch between the buildings of the school) while we smoked our smokes and pulled our poses, people would be sure to crank this song up if I was in the area. Or the aforementioned song. I assume it was implied that they both were applicable to me in retrospect, especially a year or so later when I’d heard the “suicide” label had been applied to me — although it hadn’t been the misfits, punks and rockers who had given me the label.
While I hadn’t consciously emulated Bowie in my teen years, there were some similarities — I had a fuck-all approach to gender norms when it came to clothing, was one of the only boys who wore eye make-up all of the time, and I was more effeminate than almost anyone else at the school (hell, most of Minneapolis, save for the avowed crossdressers), with a few exceptions. While I went more dark than glam, Bowie and I were both disinterested at some point in our lives in being defined by gender norms. I’ve mentioned this before, but I was asked to model a man’s dress at one point for a clothing designer because of this couldn’t-give-two-shits attitude about clothing. I’ve also said I almost regret leaving the city before she could make it happen. It would have been epic.
Anyway — I vaguely recall someone making a joke about me, calling me “Queen Michael” or “Lady Michael” back then and also recalling that, while it was meant to make me feel bad about my wayward life choices, I also recall responding with either a pair of birds or flashing Vs at them. I wasn’t insulted, but I had to play my role as the surly waste of air.