Charles Atlas (the New Yorkbased media artist, not the body builder) is currently developing a biopic on the outrageous life and telling times of Leigh Bowery. Taking a Citizen Kane approach, Atlass Fairy Contrary will follow writer Hilton Als, who profiled Bowery in a New Yorker article in 1998, as he uncovers the "real" story behind this larger-than-life figure, whose influence on the worlds of art and high fashion is legendary.
Widely known as model and muse for painter Lucian Freud, Bowery began his career as a fashion designer, but he couldnt tolerate the idea of "just anybody" wearing his name. Instead, he styled himself as a "living artwork," performing both on stage and in nightclubs in mind-boggling outfits of his own design. Bowery even pierced his own cheeks to anchor "accessories," such as the red plastic lips he wore in Charles Atlass video Teach (seen left).
In addition to Alss interviews with Bowerys famous friends and colleagues, the film promises to include a barrage of stunning visual footage from the archives of Atlas and numerous others with whom Bowery collaborated before his untimely death in 1994. (Contact: Lucy Sexton, producer, at firstname.lastname@example.org) S.G.
|Nomi in concertm photo by George Du Bose|
Horn, who also co-wrote and produced 1997s East Side Story, about Communist musicals, says that Nomi presented himself as " the perfect video star, yet his star burned out just before the mass explosion of MTV. On the verge of international fame, he became instead the first gay artist to die of AIDS." Nomis entire recorded output consists of only two LPs and a live album, but his music lives on through reissues such as 1999s "Eclipsed: The Best of Klaus Nomi" (Razor & Tie Music/BMG) and, less fortunately, as theme music for Rush Limbaughs monthly Anti-Gay report.
With The Nomi Song, Horn seeks to restore Klaus Nomis star to its proper place in the firmament and along the way to "deliver a great story told by some fascinating characters" from New Yorks underground demimonde including singer Joey Arias, painter Kenny Scharf, pioneer techno recording artist Man Parrish, Kristian Hoffman of the New Wave cult band The Mumps, and other "strange and surprising celebrity guests."
"The whole punk/New Wave scene," Horn explains, "was about alienation, and Klaus was already an alien, both nationally and culturally a European thrown in with a bunch of crazy American kids." Moreover, his whole stage act was built around the idea that he was an alien who fell to Earth from a more glamorous galaxy. In fact, his real life story was only marginally less extraordinary.
Born Klaus Sperber to a single mother living in Berlin, Nomi moved to New York in 1972, where he worked as a pastry chef. In 1979 he answered an ad for artist David McDermotts "New Wave Vaudeville" shows at Irving Plaza, and Nomi an anagram of his favorite magazine, Omni was born. Wearing a futuristic suit, his hair sculpted into three points, he performed a song from Saint-Saënss "Samson et Delila," and then disappeared into the recesses of the smoke-filled stage like an apparition. His "inhuman" voice and cabaret-style act fusing New Wave, Kabuki and Bauhaus elements made a lasting impression on anyone who saw him perform.
After a show attended by David Bowie at the infamous New York nightspot the Mudd Club, Nomi and Joey Arias, with whom he frequently collaborated, were invited by Bowie to join him as backup singers for a legendary appearance on "Saturday Night Live" in 1979. (They sang three songs, between which Bowie whisked through costume changes, including a Chinese airline stewardess outfit.) Through Bowies influence, Nomi signed a recording contract with RCA and in 1981 released a self-titled debut album, mixing pop, opera and ethereal "space music." He subsequently toured the world, appeared in several music videos and low-budget films including Urgh! A Music War and recorded a second album, "Simple Man," in 1982. But by 1983 it was all over.
"Nomis performances suggested a grand spectacle with the simplest of means," Horn says. Like Nomi himself, the film which will incorporate sci-fi movie and educational film clips, puppets and animation, performance footage and interviews promises to be "decorative, playful and deliberately artificial."
The Nomi Song is being produced by Thomas Mertens (producer, Nico Icon) and Ilona Ziok. (Contact CV Films: tel: 49 30 5369 7500, fax: 49 30 5369 6085.) S.G.