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Iconic Angie Bowie Discusses LGBT Generation Gap, Lady Gaga

By Pollo Del Mar

“You can’t ‘remember’ if you’re young. How could you?” asks Angie Bowie. “You weren’t there. You hear the stories, but it’s like, ‘Yeah, right.’ It’s like a history lesson.”

From her home in the United States’ quiet southwest -- a far cry from the wild, jet-set life of her 20s -- the gravelly-voiced sexagenarian has unexpectedly steered our conversation far deeper than just the sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll most expect from a woman who spent her formative years in a “marriage of convenience” to legendary David Bowie. She is suddenly philosophizing about the state of the youth-driven global LGBT community.

“For those of us who lived those times,” Angie says, referencing the swinging ‘70s spent wed to one of the music industry’s most groundbreaking rock stars and the social advances she has seen and fought for since, “We try to pass that experience on or tell people if they want to know, but it has to be a two-way street. They have to want to know.”

Bowie feels today’s LGBT youth, many of whom have a limited understanding of the struggles their community has faced over the last several decades, aren’t even aware of what they don’t know. “I can’t preach to people,” she says, “It’s not my job to ‘school’ anyone.”

One moment, Angie is excitedly describing herself as an “authority” on drag shows. The next, the woman whose storied career includes turns as actress, model, cover girl, musician and author has thrown herself headlong into analyzing LGBT young people and the gay community’s current perspective on human rights.

“I’m sorry,” she jokes drily. “You didn’t expect this, did you?”

What sent Bowie’s brain into overdrive, it seems, is being asked whether she feels “connected” to the gay community. As an outspoken bisexual, Angie feels “very connected” to the LGBT community. “But,” she says somewhat sadly, “They don’t feel connected to me, so what I feel is neither here nor there.”

Though in conversation Bowie dismissively says she’s “fine” with an apparent lack of affection from her own people, it’s clear from pushing the subject, she’s not. Finally, she admits as much.

“I would love to feel very connected [to the LGBT community]. It would be a dream for me,” says the celebrity, born in Cyprus but schooled across Europe, “I feel I’ve spent much of my life sticking up for and talking about those of us who have alternate sexualities and all the things which go along with it.”

That much is certainly true. Long before her sex-laced, best-selling 1992 tell-all Backstage Passes: Life on the Wildside with David Bowie, which not only suggests Angie was largely responsible for her then-husband’s drag-tastic ‘70s glam-rock reinvention but also hints at his possible dalliance with Rolling Stones superstar Mick Jagger, Angie was upfront about her own affairs with both men and women.

She was out about her sexuality during a time when the repercussions of being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or curious were considerably different than they are now, Bowie says. Young people today have limited perspective on what it was like during those times of her life, depicted in fictionalized fashion in the Oscar-winning 1998 film Velvet Goldmine, taking for granted the work of generations before.

“I noticed it in England, with Boy George [in the ‘80s],” Bowie says, “People of his generation, which is only one generation behind mine, wanted to act like by the time they came out publicly they’d already suffered so much, but now it’s fine.”

While that attitude certainly irked her, as did the fading relevance to young people of the struggles her generation faced, Bowie has learned it’s a balancing act. As she’s grown older, she has become more “realistic” about how her contributions to society are seen. She works to remain enthusiastic and optimistic for those who remember and support her efforts.

“At no point can you give in to that cynicism of realizing how fickle people’s interest is and that the passage of generations can eclipse anything you’ve done in a moment,” she says.

Meanwhile, the former Mrs. Bowie points out, it only takes “two or three scholars and students in the entertainment industry” to re-teach thoughts, ideas and history young people are unaware they have “forgotten” – because they never knew it in the first place. For this generation, she says the biggest teacher appears to be Lady Gaga.

“For younger generation to embrace that thought, which is not new but a repeat of what went before -- because everything, like fashion, is cyclical -- then they have to think [Gaga] is wonderful and innovative and divine,” Bowie says of the prolific superstar, “And she is, because she’s reminding them of lessons they have forgotten.”

According to Bowie, those who deride Gaga for recycling looks, sounds and images of the past – including many taken directly from her famous ex – are simply “jealous.” “Those people just want to say, ‘Oh, I did that first!,” Bowie says, “And that’s bullshit!

“Gaga has taken their lesson and is showing she learned it well,” Angie says, “She learned it well enough to repeat if for a new generation. Now she belongs to that generation, and they’re learning the lessons all over again. It’s the way of the world.”

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