David Bowie in Hollywood
Annie Tipton • Star • June 1973
Star Cover Girl Patty Clark and I caught our breaths as we ran up the boarding ramp and watched the sleek silver Super Chief train from Chicago roll into LA's Union Station – with cosmic superstar David Bowie onboard.
The shiny doors of the metal beast swung open, and Patty rushed up to a dazzling, zoot-suited Bowie, planting a Star smacker right on his smiling lips and handing him a bouquet of pink baby roses and a copy of Star.
Winking at Patty, Bowie whispered something into her ear and I could see her blush. Bowie cocked his carrot-coloured shag to one side and strutted his lean zoot-suited body toward the small but adoring crowd that had gathered here at 9 in the morning to meet him.
But, before I could get a chance to greet him, his grizzly-bear bodyguard whisked him into a black limo parked near by and sped off. Patty turned to me grinning like a Cheshire cat:
"What did he say?" I asked breathlessly.
"That he loved the magazine and… oh, gawd, I can't tell you the rest!"
Well, I wasn't about to settle for a second-hand story anyway, so I flagged down a taxi and we tagged David straight for the Continental Hotel on the Sunset Strip. When I arrived, two limos had dumped an army of travelling trunks and a battalion of suitcases in front of the hotel and David ordered, "Get these carts inside," in a cool, crisp English-accented manner.
Then he darted inside the hotel. Standing in the middle of the commotion, as porters unloaded David's gear, I mentioned off the cuff to this brunette chick who was standing nearby (outfitted in a printed, sleazy-but-trendy '30s dress): "Will you just look at those incredibly insane clothes - I just don't believe it." The chick flashed a smile and said: "Yeah, he carries most of his street clothes when's he's touring and most of his stage costumes - like his spacemen's suits.
He's going to be on the road about two months, you see. Didn't you see that Time mag picture of David with that beautiful black suit of his - well he brought that one too. Like all his suits are custom-made by this fabulous Japanese designer, Kansai."
"Wait a minute," I said, turned on by this gassy bit of gab. "How do you know all this about David Bowie?" Cocky and bold she replied, "I'm David's PR girl - my name's Cherry Vanilla!"
"Far-out!" I said.
Astounded by the amount of baggage being trucked through the lobby, I asked Cherry if David carried everything he owned with him.
"Just about. He brings all his clothes, jewellery, makeup and accessories."
"Does he bring along a makeup man and a hair-stylist too?"
"No, David basically does his own makeup and his own hair. But he had a makeup man called Pierre Laroche in New York, and this chick named Sue who cuts his hair and colours it. But David does his own makeup and fixes his own hair before he goes on stage. He knows what he wants and he knows how to create it. He's phenomenal."
"Could you give me some background poop on David?"
"Well," Cherry said, "as you probably know, he was trained as a dancer and a mime, and his theatre background really comes from mime training. He's also a mystical sort of person and used to study Tibetan Buddhism, and that cosmic stuff really affects the way he is."
"Was it in London that he studied mime?"
"Yeah. And then he had a mime show of his own called Feathers. In fact, I just found out yesterday that he toured with T.Rex once.
"You know, David lives in a place called Beckenham, Kent, and it's like a little garden paradise, right outside of London. It's a big house, and he has a security guard living downstairs, while Davie and his wife, Angela, and their baby Zowie Bowie, live upstairs. The band lives nearby. Beckenham is really a fabulous park area."
"How old is Zowie?"
"He's so beautiful. He's almost 22 months old. He's got this long cascading blonde curly hair (he looks like David did on the cover of Hunky Dory), and just the most fabulous disposition. He's such an open kid."
"What's their family scene like?"
"Well David and Angie have some real magic going. I mean, they have just the most fabulous relationship, the only kind that they could have. They're both totally free agents. You know, Angie can be with another guy if she wants and David can be with another girl-it doesn't matter. They've been married a little over two years now and really dig each other.
"Cherry, tell me about David's itinerary for the next month or so."
"He leaves here in a week on a fabulous cruise ship that sails from LA to Japan. He'll be covering the major cities there in concert. In fact, the tickets are already sold out! Then he's going by boat to the Asian mainland to catch the incredible Trans-Siberian Express through Russia and Poland. It'll be a fabulous trip, I wish I was going with him! But he's just taking Angie and his best friend."
"Yes, but I'm curious. . . why doesn't he ever fly? I heard somewhere that he had a dream at one time about being killed in a plane crash. Is this true?"
"The song Five Years was written about that. In the song My Death he says:
"My death waits to allow my friends a few good times before it ends!"
And it's getting closer and closer, you know. And it keeps all of us devoted and hanging on, because everybody's waiting around to see what's going to happen in four years… You see, he had this dream that the electro-magnetic energy force field around earth was going to falter, and so all the aircrafts in the air were just going to plummet to earth."
"Fascinating," I said, hardly believing what I'd heard. "Gee, I wish I could talk to David personally - what a trip it would be. Tell me how you got so involved with David Bowie and the groupie scene."
"I used to be a groupie myself. I would tell all the musicians I was writing a rock column in Creem, called "Cherry Vanilla With Scoops For You."
Just then, a tremendous hustling - bustling commotion broke up our conversation … I looked around just in time to see David in dazzling checked sports coat with a real silver tie, red vest and silver six-inch honky boots dashing out the door with a trail of photographers snapping cameras. At that point, Cherry said goodbye to me and scurried off after David as he jumped into his limo with all his entourage.
Just then I spotted Laurie Mattix [Lori Maddox] - a slinky little black-eyed, groupie-doll stepping out of the elevator in the hotel lobby. She smiled at me as I waved.
"You should have been up in David's room with me … what a trip!" said Laurie, winking.
"Laurie," I said in desperation, "where is David off to now?"
"He has a meeting at RCA, then he's checking out the nightclub bit. Laurie got into rapping about David, and when I asked her what David (or "Ziggy" as he likes to be called) is like when he's offstage Laurie said, "He's always on stage. Even when he's sitting around his dressing room, he's like Rudolf Valentino of the 1930s."
"What does David think of the groupie scene?"
"Oh, he loves it - he has a million girls hanging around him all the time. He likes groupies because they have what it takes to get him, the looser, the better!"
"He likes to go shopping with them 'cause he loves clothes. Then, he likes to go to weird parties. He loves clubs too, English-type disco clubs with dancing, and he enjoys having people come up to him and ask him for an autograph. But he doesn't just like groupies, he's great at talking to all kinds of chicks of all ages. He even likes real ugly girls – really freaky, strange girls. "
The next morning my phone rang and it was Cherry Vanilla, with two front row tickets for me at David's Palladium concert! Laurie and I decided to go together and were ushered helter-skelter up to some choice front row seats just as the show opened with Ziggy's Men from Mars doing a heavy Beethoven number, Ode To Joy, to get their act together.
The lights went dim and from out of the black beyond appeared the fabulous Ziggy Stardust (alias David Bowie), wearing this insane black-hoop legged costume. The lunar vibrations were incredible and the crowd went insane. This was raving Bowie mania!
During the performance I noticed there was a huge gold disc drawn on his forehead. I asked Laurie what it meant and she said: "I don't really know, but it's probably something spacey and insane like a third eye or something." I figured it might be one of those Buddhist symbols since he was so much into Eastern Religions. After a dynamite fashion parade of seven beautiful costumes, and cosmic sounds, David moved into his finale, Rock And Roll Suicide.
Laurie and I then battled our way through the cheering, chanting crowd backstage to see David. Laurie and I pushed and shoved our way through groupies, musicians and record company types till we were in David's dressing room. All around us were his incredible costumes, hanging from every door and dresser. David was wearing a Japanese embroidered lounging robe, and was puffing on a long, brown cigarette. Laurie ran up to him, giving him a kiss and sat in his lap. "David, you have to meet my friend from Star!"
"You've got a pretty gassy book, luv," said Bowie. "The Spiders and I really dug on The Groupies comics and poster you did on our group! How'd you like the show?"
"Far out!" was about all I could get myself together to say, and just as I was going to ask him about his tour, a crowd of managers and PR people came in and said:
"Come on David, you'll miss the ship!"
That's right, tonight David was sailing for Japan! David hurriedly said goodbye to everyone and kissed all the chicks bon voyage - including me! Zowie! Then he disappeared through the pressing throng out to the limo. Two assistants were busy packing all his gowns into steamer trunks for David's cruise to Japan. I didn't exactly get the interview I was after… but somehow I felt I had found out more about the personal Bowie by rapping with his friends. And that Zowie Bowie kiss - I'll never kiss and tell what it was like!