The great, genderfuck-loving David Bowie died Sunday night, somewhat surprisingly to fans around the world, at age 69 after an 18-month battle with cancer that had not been publicized.
The title of his final music video, ‘Lazarus,’ is also the name of a play currently off-Broadway at New York Theater Workshop which Bowie wrote with Enda Walsh, based on the novel The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis. Bowie played the main character in the 1976 screen adaptation of the book, and he returned to the material in what turned out to be the end of his life during a fairly productive last year on earth.
As the UK Telegraph reports, Bowie’s final album Blackstar (released in December), and this final song and video, were part of “a carefully-orchestrated farewell to his fans,” meant to describe, in art, his dark and painful last days.
The video for the song, one of only seven on album, was released on Bowie’s 69th birthday just two days before his death, and opens with the lyric, “Look up here, I’m in Heaven!”
The video for the song ‘Blackstar’ was released in late November, and also showed Bowie in the same costume with bandages over his eyes, and buttons in place of eyes. Together the songs form a haunting, and uniquely beautiful final message.
Though the LGBT community has long embraced Bowie as one of their own, he was more a performer and provocateur than he was actually queer. As ThinkProgress notes upon his death, the pioneer of gender-bending alter-egos might have come out as bisexual once upon a time, but he later backtracked on that saying that he may have had some same-sex sexual interactions, he later said “frankly, it wasn’t enjoyable.” He described himself as “promiscuous” wasn’t everyone in the 70s? and one can imagine, with all the drugs he did and the circles he ran in, that things were pretty fluid. Nevertheless he remained married to the model Iman for 20 years, until 2012.
The New York Times has a good and poignant obituary for Bowie today, and remembrances aren’t likely to stop before the month is out.
Below, a photo Iman posted to Instagram yesterday.