Quantcast
The Whore Next Door: Hot Tramp, I Loved You So - By - January 20, 2016 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

The Whore Next Door: Hot Tramp, I Loved You So

At 13, I watched The Rocky Horror Picture Show for the first time while on a New Year's Eve family vacation to London. I stayed up late into the night — long after my mother and father were shaking the windows of our tiny British hotel room with their snores — transfixed by Tim Curry's fishnet stockings and black panties, gyrating across the Channel 4 screen.

It should have come as no surprise to anyone that I received my first kiss the following summer from a boy with long hair who often wore corsets and heels, but my love for men able to play along the gender spectrum and channel power and dominance through femininity began long before my first kiss.

Perhaps by the time you read this, the reality of the Starman's ascension will have sunk into our psyches in a more concrete way. But David Bowie's death still feels new, raw, and borderline impossible. I'm sorry, but I still need to write my own Bowie eulogy.

There has never been a time in my life when David Bowie was not a known quantity, a reality — like the president or the pope. Like many of my generation, while I may have toddled about to the tune of “Diamond Dogs” or “Ziggy Stardust,” I first truly laid eyes on him as Jareth, the Goblin King in the 1986 Jim Henson fantasy feature, Labyrinth.

The children's classic featuring a young Jennifer Connelly was a staple in my household, but I always preferred watching the film with my girlfriends, rather than my parents.

Mainly because of David Bowie's penis.

Henson's costuming team must have just forgotten for a moment that they were making a kids' movie when they saw Bowie emerge from his fitting, ultimately choosing to costume him throughout most of the film in what have since been referred to as the “Pants Magic Pants.”

It wasn't just the pants, though. Bowie, then nearly three decades into his rock 'n' roll reign, inhabited Jareth with such seriousness, such bizarre sex appeal, that it ignited something in me. It was the eyebrows, the accent, the gloves, the androgyny — and mostly that strange desire for dominance over his ingenue.

“Just let me rule you, and you can have everything that you want,” Jareth says in his final plea to Sarah, just before the goblin clock strikes 13. “Just fear me, love me, do as I say — and I will be your slave.”

He wanted to own her and to be her slave; he was commandingly masculine and yet whimsical and fey. Just like Frank N. Furter, his femininity gave him power, and I took that to heart.

I, perhaps with other '80s babies, have spent my life since that first Labyrinth viewing looking for a magical creature who would make me Jareth's offer. Of course, the Bowies (and Jareths) of this world are few and far between, but that didn't stop me from kissing boys who liked women's underwear long into my adulthood.

To this day, I hate watching the final scene where Sarah breaks his spell with the magic words “You have no power over me.” Jareth's pursed lips and disappointed eyes as the world flies away around him convey a heartache that I never wanted David Bowie to feel. Cancer isn't murder or assassination, and while 69 is hardly young, it was hardly enough years of androgynous rock god magic. I feel greedy for shaking my fist at the sky, aching for the haunting music videos we'll never see and emotional dance tracks we'll never hear, especially when Bowie's final album, Blackstar, is such an intentional and masterfully crafted goodbye.

I like to think about celebrities who transcend their mortal coil into legendary status as actual stars. Their fame and influence on our culture transcends their body and ego and makes us mortals feel like we are touching something astral. To me, Bowie wasn't just the soundtrack to a lifetime of queerness. His death has had a particularly jarring effect on my community of weirdoes and dreamers, because for those of us who always felt like aliens, or who liked boys who wore dresses, Bowie was our patron saint.