Angela Bowie, the Empress of London’s Glam Rock scene in the 1970s, is a writer, rocker, poet, animal-welfare advocate, fashion icon and LGBTQ activist.
She was formerly married to rock legend David Bowie and recounts their colorful and volatile life together in her memoir, Backstage Passes: Life on the Wild Side with David Bowie, a chronicle of the Golden Age of rock ’n’ roll and what it was like spending time with stars such as Mick Jagger, Elton John, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Robert Plant and Keith Moon.
Angela is joining us at the Central Library on Saturday, June 20, to discuss her life and her career. We’re very pleased that she answered a few questions for us before her visit!
Can you tell us about your new book of poetry Fancy Footwork? What does poetry mean to you?
Poetry, for me, tells the story of how we dance and spin, sometimes smooth and fluid like water and sometimes taut and on guard like a tightrope walker. We stretch our legs and learn to sprint. We unfold our wings and take to the skies. Imaginations soar above the trees and into the clouds, and as the air becomes thin, we revert to energy. We are no longer physical entities, no breath, no biology… just Light. We swoop through space. We dance amongst the stars, batting at stardust to jostle a response from our ancestors. This book is about our time on Earth.
You were educated in Cyprus, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, and attended Connecticut College. Did your education prepare you at all to be a part of the Glam Rock revolution, or for your unique career?
Yes. I think going to school and college abroad and living away from the big cities gave me an inclusive appreciation of what glamour could be. It became obvious that glamour is in your mind and character and you can be anywhere in the world and fulfill it; fulfill the desire to dress and look appealing. Well-dressed men must accompany glamorous women, so I worked hard at making sure the apparel of the men around me was exciting as well.
June is LGBTQ Pride Month in many countries around the world. You and your former husband were two of the first "out" public figures in the entertainment industry. Can you talk a little about that experience?
It was necessary to take a stand about bisexuality and homosexuality being perfectly acceptable. At that time, there was much discrimination and it was personal for David and me, as we had both had relationships with folks of the same sex.
One of your close friends, Leee Black Childers, sadly passed away last year. Leee was a legendary rock photographer and part of the art scene at Andy Warhol's Factory in Manhattan. Can you share some of your memories of Leee with us?
Leee contributed a great deal to the New York art scene and then to the promotion of David and myself. His association with Hit Parader, Rock Scene and other teen-oriented fan mags meant that his photographs reached a much wider and diverse audience than just concentrating on newspapers, radio and TV.
You owned the television rights to the Marvel Comics characters Black Widow and Daredevil in 1975. You must have had some unique ideas for that show—can you tell us about them? What do you think of Scarlett Johansson's portrayal of Black Widow?
I haven’t seen Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, but I am sure she’s very good; she is such a talented actor! Benny Carruthers (who was in John Cassavetes’ movie Shadows) was a great New York talent, actor and writer who was set to play Daredevil. We did a photo shoot with Terry O’Neill, but we couldn’t get funding. At that time, without computer animation, any type of special effects red-flagged projects and inflated their budgets.
It seems you have always been a renegade and champion for social and cultural change. What changes would you like to see happen in the coming decade?
I would like to see a greater interest in guarding the planet, gun control in the USA, an acute interest in improving education and the adoption of the idea that our taxes should completely fund education, up to and including university. The health care system should be available to everyone and should be free as part of what taxpayers deserve. I could go on, but that’s the subject of one of my next books, called POP.POLITIC. So those are just some of the ideas I will be addressing in that tome!