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"This is ground control to Major Tom your something something … "
I remember hearing Ground Control to Major Tom playing on the car radio. Space Oddity would be one of the first LPs I bought (and one of the very few that made the US pop charts). One this distant side of that first hearing I don't know why I liked the song.
Space Oddity itself appealed to my then barely in check idealistic, drippy side who was charmed by songs about a Wild-eyed Boys from Freecloud (not that I would've admitted it to my friends).
More significantly the red-haired guy on the cover was for a time the defining male sex symbol. Why? Red hair and an English accent helped. When I looked at him clinically he wasn't nearly as pretty as many a boy I passed on the street.
David Bowie was the 70s poster-boy for androgyny. Probably I first encountered the word androgynous in reference to him. If my first personal ad many years ago hadn't been something like "androgynous / masculine seeks androgynous feminine" I wouldn't know that I had a clue to my sexuality way back when.
Male femininity wasn't a requirement of my young lust. I slept with well-built young men, even one with a moustache (as if some young men's lip hair didn't seem to emphasize their daintiness).
But it was the silly boys who drew me. I remember once walking around the block an extra time just to catch a second glimpse of a Bowish boy sitting in a Krystal Burger joint on Atlanta's Peachtree Street. He was beautifully skinny. Not the best sign: the Krystal was a hangout for crystalmeth addicts.
I'd read an interview with the pop-star where he dismissed his "boy-boffing" as an adolescent aberration. That took me aback. Was he slipping into the closet to sell more records? It'd be a few years before bisexuality became more than a word I sometimes heard. Since he was an older guy I forgave him in a way I never would now. The next mention of him I saw was San Francisco gossip columnist, Herb Caen, saying the thin white one had been accompanied by a very pretty boy to some function.
I bought each of his LPs through Scary Monsters when I decided he's lost his touch. After that he dropped out of my listening and my imagination. Funnily enough while I found him seductive enough for a wet dream I never thought him that attractive until he gender bending had passed. By then I didn't know whether to think of him as heterosexual or in the closet. Some Stalinization of the imagination had retroactively removed his erotic value. He became another famous pop-star like Mick Jagger and Justin Timberlake.
As yesterdays guys go I'd much rather have had a night with Marc Bolan, looking sassy, trashy and spaced-out. And it is Neil Tennant and Marc Almond who have become my avatars of queer sexuality. Tennant sums up the ironies, the regrets you'd never forgo. Almond is the beauty of lust.
David/Ziggy was a useful pointer. I wish I'd been half as clear-minded as I fancied myself. Who knows whom I missed when I was young and desirable? Ambiguously gendered people, women, third sex folk. Not that latterday contemplation of their (your?) beauty isn't more pleasurable than you'd think.
See also: What is sexy music?