Thin White Duke

Remember when Bowie was a nazi? He went from unconvincing blue eyed soulster on Young Americans to The Thin White Duke. That was a weird time. The nazi salute, the swastika paraphernalia, the statements about Britain needing fascism.  I believe very strongly in fascism, he declared, and called Adolf Hitler the first rock stars. Visionary as always, Bowie was National Front before National Front was hip. “You’ve got to have an extreme right-wing front come up and sweep everything off its feet and tidy everything up.” It was all pretty unnerving at the time. He made my favorite Bowie album then, though–Station To Station. It glistens with cocaine, hard as glass, sharp corners, unforgiving. His was an intellectual fascism, very European, we’ve never had that here in the States, the androgynous appeal of Heydrich’s shiny uniform and cold steel stare. Nazi high fashion. Gotta admit those SS boys were sharp, right up until Götterdämmerung they looked good. Bowie drank his milk and ate his red peppers and held seances and snorted mountains of cocaine. Utterly mad music filled his brain. In Berlin, surrounded by the ghosts of dead Nazis, he saw his name spraypainted on a wall, the letters interweaved with swastikas. Talk about a mindfuck moment. Skinny little David Bowie high out of his mind and his luggage full of Nazi paraphernalia (they took it from him in Poland, you can imagine the custom inspectors’ shock at this weird looking rock star with a suitcase full of Third Reich collectibles), suddenly realizing people took him seriously at this. About then he kicked the coke and began talking about love and equality like the whole Nazi thing had never happened. We still all pretend it never happened. Artists, you know, they have their little whims.

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