The world was devastated by news of the death of several celebrities recently, including endearing wizard actor and consummate villain Alan Rickman. But perhaps the biggest loss, if such a thing could be measured, was that of David Bowie. Bowie transcended what it meant to be a pop star or a professional musician, often seesawing between enigmatic icon and approachable everyman.
To many of us in the magic community, David Bowie meant something particularly special. His songs and on-screen personas embodied the idea of what it meant to be a misfit, an outcast or just misunderstood. While others were pushing towards conformity, Bowie pushed back by embracing his weirdness. He was forever completely unafraid to exhibit whatever version of his true self he happened to favor at the moment. His daring, experimental and most of all passionate approach to art lent just a little more magic to the world. He inspired countless young, awkward teens to pursue a second identity as a rockstar, fashionista or even a magician.
On-screen, Bowie displayed the most magic of all. Only an actor on occasion, Bowie always seemed to be cast when a film called for a true sorcerer — someone eccentric yet who oozed effortless charisma. These appearances have made an impact that can be seen on the stage and screen as others try to capture Bowie’s rare, ephemeral form of artistry. He will truly be missed, but at least we have these performances to remind us of how weird and wonderful he truly was.
Thomas Jerome Newton — The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
Bowie’s first film role and one that still has the biggest cult following. His waifish, breathy personality at the time perfectly fit the role of an alien who seems otherworldly in ways that are hard to pin down. The raw star power of Bowie’s performance and his ability to enchant without chewing up scenes speaks to innate powers that even a mentalist in Miami would be jealous of.
Jareth the Goblin King — Labyrinth (1987)
The role he is best-known for, and with good reason. Bowie’s campy but captivating turn as the feather-haired Goblin King is one of the most memorable, even by ‘80s kitsch standards. Mind-bending effects and puppets by the Jim Henson Creature Shop helped further build on the magical world that Jareth lived in. The film also helped subtly propel the career of contact juggler Michael Moschen, who would stand behind Bowie and perform blind sphere juggling tricks that many assumed had to be special effects. Jareth was also quite the showman, tossing snakes that turned out to be scarves and toying with the mind of young Sarah. In all, Bowie’s appearance on Labyrinth gave us something utterly unique and yet cozily familiar, like finding a long-lost childhood toy hidden underneath the couch.
Andy Warhol — Basquiat (1996)
In one of Bowie’s most delightful cameos, he takes on the persona of art/fashion icon Andy Warhol with the perfect amount of eeriness and aloofness.
Nikola Tesla — The Prestige (2006)
Playing famous inventor and eccentric visionary Nikola Tesla with the same weighty distance lent to Warhol and his alien Thomas, David Bowie manages to steal the entire movie in the few scenes he appears. Tesla’s exploits have given him a late-start cult following in the modern era, a trait somewhat shared by Bowie as more people get introduced to his earlier works. The sheer unexpectedness and parallel celebrity wielded by Bowie made the cameo a delightful fit in a movie all about magic and surprises.
Make Your Own Impact
Follow in David Bowie’s glorious footsteps by pursuing everything you do with passion and unrestrained honesty. His commitment to art left many impressions on his surviving fans.
You can see how others work hard to make an immeasurable impact through their performance by reading testimonials about Mio’s mentalist in Miami act.