angie bowie

Best known as the inspiration behind the
Rolling Stones classic ‘Angie’ and as the wild
ex-wife of David Bowie, Angie Bowie talks about her debut solo album, Moon Goddess, on Camden-based record label www.electriclabel.co.uk. Interview by Mike Brenard

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Angie Bowie's exact influence over a generation of pop culture is endlessly debated. In a recent ITV documentary, Lou Reed credited her, unequivocally, with creating his legendary Transformer look, adding weighty testimony to the claims of her supporters that her influence extends far beyond the boundaries of Ziggy Stardust and The Man Who Sold The World. Then there’s the Rolling Stones’ legendary tribute “Angie”, her friendship with Marianne Faithfull, her best-selling autobiography 'Backstage Passes' (rumoured to have been the major inspiration for the “fictional” Velvet Goldmine). The list just goes on and on.

These days Angie Bowie lives in Tucson, Arizona, far away in time and space from London’s heady Glam Rock days. Her children are grown up and making their own ways in the world. She happily communicates with the world via her website, writes books, knows some great recipes, works on film projects, and has a lot of fun with her fans and friends.

Not so long ago, Subterraneans’ singer and Camden-based record label supremo, Jude Rawlins happened upon something called Moon Goddess, an album of original material by Angie Bowie. Intrigued, he decided to check it out, and was completely taken with what he heard. He immediately contacted Angie, and promptly signed her to the Electric label. Moreover, he cheekily suggested that Angie join Subterraneans on a wild rendition of the Stones’ classic “The Last Time”. The result is that rarest of triumphs: a stunningly contemporary cover version of a ridiculously famous song that allows you to completely forget the original for the duration.

As Jude says “I wanted it to sound like a couple who’d succeeded in driving each other nuts. I wanted it to have the spirit of the Stones, the stuff that made them special in the first place, which I think all the other recent covers completely missed. Angie understood that instinctively. Her performance is spot on. No one else would have got it so right.” Of course, Angie singing a Stones’ song is bound to raise a few eyebrows.

Tell us about your new album?
Moon Goddess is the collection of songs that I recorded from my first theater show, Krisis Kabaret at the Little Theater in Upper St. Martin’s Lane in 1976 to now! I guess it’s my musical biography.

What made you record it?
People began to use my poems as lyrics. Roy Martin recorded a poem Soul House for Track Records and then I wrote Some of My Best Friends Are Strangers while hanging at my friend Benny Carruther’s house in Chelsea listening to a guy called Steve Busch play blues guitar.

Once I realized that I could write songs like Lionel Bart did; singing the melody to a musician, I was jazzed and got busy. As I wrote poems and lyrics, I wrote the melodies and recorded the songs so it was easier for a band to learn them.

What's all this about a new book on bisexuality?
It’s called ‘Bisexuality, the Pocket Essential’. During my ‘Twenties Madness’, I really missed there being a book with the lives of Bisexuals so one didn’t feel like such an alien. At that time very little was written about it and usually what was written was an adjunct to homosexuality or in a disparaging way that offered no practical help for confidence and self-esteem. When www.angiebowie.com was set up in 2000, my essay on Bisexuality was the first article to be posted; there was a big response to it. It seemed like the natural follow-up to do a ‘little’ book with the biographies of bisexual people as encouragement to people who were so enthusiatic about the website essay.

Where do you live now and can you tell us something about it?
I live in Tucson, Arizona and wish I could afford to live in Camden! I used to live at the Angel, Islington but it got so expensive in England, I figured I better go and see what living in America was like. What’s that great line from the movie K-PAX? “Your produce alone was worth the trip!” That’s kind of how I felt about America because I had never lived here before.

Do you like Camden?
Camden is Camden; it’s London, it’s gorgeous and having lived in England for so many years, I’ve always gone to Camden. Of course I like it! How could you not like Camden? An architectural marvel full of Georgian beauty and nineteenth century warehouses!

We hear you recently worked on a building site?
I often work construction whenever I need to lose a little weight. The first time I tried it was after I met my partner Michael Gassett. Michael wanted to do something physical because he ran a service department for an airline and he has back problems if he is not active.

I got into working physically when I had my horse ranch for 5 years. So Michael and I joined a framing crew in Atlanta and loved it. We built about 20 houses and 16 condos. i like all that walking on beams on 50 or 60 feet in the air. what can i tell you/ i’m a daredevil.

So then when we went to Tucson, my friend Sage Cavanaugh gave me a job with her painting company but soon she had me designing and doing interiors. That is not as useful to me as the physical labor, flattering but not useful!

And the problem with working construction is that I have no time for my real work/Writing.

Construction is physically tiring so you can work hard all day and then really sleep; but that means you have no stregnth to work in the evening etc at writing. So I would do it for 3-6 month spurts and then get back to writing and I’d be looking good, svelte!

Instead of paying for a gym or a trainer! I am such a Cypriot; I have to have a bargain! There you go; another reason I love Camden! It’s the London hangout of my compadres from Cyprus! Camden and Finsbury Park!

What other jobs have you had?
I worked for AAA, the Automobile Association selling memberships and also I wrote scripts for those 900 LIVE SEX LINES. That was a hoot! What else? Publicity I did the George Dalares (Greek POP SINGER) American Tour publicity. I liked that. Publicity is fun and I am experienced!

I worked for Althea and Larry Flynt as a celebrity editor. Athea was launching a magazine called RAGE Fashion With A Vengeance. I needed to make some money to finish recording a couple of the tracks that are on MOON GODDESS.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My Work, Michael Gassett, Stacia and Zowie, my daughter and son

Angie with daughter Stacia

How would you describe your singing voice?
Frankie Laine! I’m sorry I am being cheeky! I am not a rack-jobber that is someone else’s job to describe my voice.

What is the trait you most like about yourself?
Sense of humour.

What is the trait you most like about other people?
Sense of humour.

What is the trait you most dislike about yourself?
I worry; it’s a hang-over from being raised Catholic.

What is the trait you most dislike about other people?
Oh you mean sanctimonious pompous ass-holes, is that a trait or an entire breed?

What do you most like/dislike about your appearance?
I can’t answer that question. I like myself so how I look is representative of what I am doing at the time.

How important is sex to you?
Pretty important, POP.SEX will be the second book I wrote about it.
I wrote 8 songs for a Chris Stamp/ Lionel Bart project called Carte Blanche which are serious SEXY stuff. Maybe I’ll get around to recording them in the near future

What is your greatest regret?
“Non, Je ne regrette rien”

How would you like to be remembered?
Wow! As a good friend, an exhuberant lover, a sensible adult and a contributor to the freedom of sexuality by my writing, songs and performance.

With which celebrity do you most identify and why?
I don’t identify with anybody apart from myself. It took me so long to escape from the Catholic belief that i had to serve someone; once i realized that I was free to do my own projects and that I would get no help from anyone I stopped wasting what time there was left and got busy.

What would you most like to change about yourself?
It’s time to go frame some houses; there’s 10 pounds I need to lose. I have been sitting at the computer for 2 and a half years writing POP.SEX and The Bisexuality Pocket Essential.

What three elements go towards making the perfect party?
What a great question! Wonderful interesting Fun people from all walks of life to mix it up PLUS lighting music and food!

Describe a day in the life of Angie Bowie?
I get up early at 4.00 am work, eat, work, get bored, walk around my garden, sit in the jaccuzzi, eat, work, drink innumerable cups of tea. Make dinner for Michael, work, go to bed. I am asleep by 8.00 p.m. If I go out of town for performance then I stay up late and party after taking a huge nap. I have always maintainedd this schedule, I know it’s odd but it’s true.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?
Shitting myself when I was asleep at school. I was 11, God I was embarrassed!

Do you ever see or hear from your ex-husband David Bowie?

Have you been reunited with your son Zowie?
He wrote me last year and then stopped.

If you met David Bowie today, what is the first thing you would say to him?
I’d lie and say it was great to see him.

Looking back, how do you now view your life with him?
As a splendid opportunity to learn my craft as a marketer and promoter. I did pretty well don’t you think for my first job?

Your record label, The Electric Label, is based in Camden Town. Isn¹t that an unusual choice for someone living in the Arizona desert?
Yes, isn’t that wonderfully bizarre? Jude Rawlins is a smooth mover!

Moon Goddess is your debut solo album ­ is it going to be the first of many and how did it come about?
It looks like it will be the first of many; as we speak tunes are winging their way back and forth across the airwaves. Hopefully Osceola Records will be the distributor for the next CD. I’m superstitious about talking up projects until they happen; i am not being evasive just cagey!

The video for the classic single Crying In The Dark was shot in Vienna?
I had such a blast doing that video. Did you like it? Poor Chico, I doubt if he ever thought his lovely song could suggest such a mean story-line! He was great playing the deceitful boyfriend wasn’t he? But you know I love to drag up and steal the girl!

You are currently working on your new book Pop.Sex?
It’s a ruse! I thought how can I write the truth about how little sexual freedom there is in the world without pissing everybody off. So I gathered all the fabulous stories of sexual eccentricity together and then I wrote the political debate and stuck all the cool eccentric sex stories in the right places! The problem is of course that the Sharia law in Muslim countries does not allow one to be funny or humorous about sexuality in Muslim culture because there isn’t any! No, just kidding. You got me going now, I think I am a comedian. I like doing political humor with sex it takes the edge off!

You teamed up with Subterraneans on a wild rendition of the Stones classic ‘The Last Time’ for your album. How did that happen?
Smooth operator Jude Rawlins. See how he is. Jude recorded the track with his band and sent it to me and I added my vocal to his. You know Jude and I have never met; so i sent him an e mail after I did the recording and said something like I enjoyed our cyber fuck. I must have embarrassed him.

Bisexuality by Angie Bowie is published by Pocket Essentials and available from Amazon for £3.99. To buy it click here: Buy Angie Bowie's Bisexuality

You can buy Moon Goddess on www.electriclabel.net

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