Harlot's Quickie Tribute to Leigh Bowery



 In the absurdist nnocturnal carnival of celebrated and exaggerated marginality that was the world of underground club culture in the early '80s all freaks were not created equal. Amidst the flurry and fury of drama queens and fashion fiends, some, such as Leigh Bowery,

 one and one is two



stood out above and beyond the rest of the pansies and posers. Born out of a time when the antisocial confrontations of

'70s punk became distilled in increasingly more outlandish and creative fashion signifiers (epitomized by the

foppishly flamboyant farce of New Romanticism), when the extremes of one era erupted in an even wilder and

more reckless decadence rife with nihilistic and alienated self-destruction, the type of drug-fueled, hard-core,

gender-bending, and Diony sian deviancies

 as much a reaction against the ultraconservative moralisms of the Thatcher / Reagan agenda as an expression of

the heedlessly conspicuous consumption engendered in that era of greed. Leigh Bowery was all this and more. A prima-diva divine, his life was an epic exploration of self-expression and self-invention. If his art was his life,


his subject was himself (fabricated with such

fanciful imagination that it bordered on mythopathia), his

medium was
his body, and his tools were makeup and clothing.

Because his elaborate and often inappropriate style-as-spectacle

was a
maxed-out, over-the-top drag rather than painting or sculpture


 per se, Bowery was not readily accepted as an artist - an unfortunate oversight of cultural prejuidice t that will hopefullybe remedied in part by the

formidable survey of portraits, documentation, and Bowery-designed

costumes/clothing that made up his posthumous exhibit at Tonya Bonakdar

(Bowery died of AIDS-related meningitis on New Year's Eve, 1994). A star in a

subculture that defied its counter-cultural antagonism toward the mainstream by

continually grasping for and reveling in fame, Bowery was famous for modeling

for Lucien Freud, acting for The Fall's Mark E. Smith, and making costumes for

choreographer Michael Clark and pop-star Boy George (whose

biography Take It Like a Man gives an idea of how insane Leigh, George, and

company's scene was).

Bowery may ultimately be most famous for just being himself: a personification

the homo-clown with full license to the most surreal, confrontational, and

threatening elaborations of grotesque and comic burlesque. His was an ephemeral

and experiential performance art, a mixture of the hilarious, the dangerous,

and the tragic acted out on the stage, street, and dancefloor of life. R.I.P.




( Carlos )




(HINT) Killer Hermes scarf design if ever I saw one...