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Will Brooker dressed as Bowie in Labyrinth

Jareth the Goblin King gets the Will Brooker treatment

Being Bowie film premiere in Hastings

“I spent a day filming on the beach in Hastings where Bowie shot ‘Ashes to Ashes’, and walked around the seafront wearing the full Pierrot make-up. I got some very funny looks but for the most part, people were very English and just didn’t say anything.” Hear more anecdotes from Professor Will Brooker when he launches The Electric Palace cinema’s annual Summer Music Season on 11 June with a very special WORLD EXCLUSIVE film premiere of his film, Being Bowie: Act 1 on Saturday 11 June, says Annie Waite.

“The nicest people were an old couple who only had vague memories of who David Bowie was and asked if he was the man who had lightning over one eye,” says Brooker, of one of his Hastings visits in Bowie persona.

Living as Bowie for a year

For the past year, Will Brooker, Professor of Film and Cultural Studies at Kingston University and author of many books on popular culture and their audiences, including Batman Unmasked, and The Blade Runner Experience, has been spending months at a time ‘being’ David Bowie. Adopting Bowie’s eating habits and consuming the songs, films and literature Bowie did during different eras, Brooker has been experiencing Bowie’s life at key points through his 40-year career, from Ziggy Stardust to Let’s Dance and beyond. The unique project has been committed to film – Being Bowie: Act 1.

Brooker’s project was shockingly interrupted earlier this year, sadly, when Bowie tragically died.

Life in the public eye

“The international media attention I received was really most surprising, ” says Brooker. “It began as a project just for myself, to get me into the research, and the 1960s period was entirely out of the limelight, with me simply visiting Bowie’s homes around Beckenham, Brixton and Bromley. Then my early-1970s immersion was picked up by press all over the world. A bit like Bowie’s rise to fame, so in a way it was very helpful for my experience,” he explains.

Professor Will Brooker dressed as David Bowie in Let's Dance era

Let’s Dance: Brooker as Bowie

What is the most interesting thing Brooker learned about Bowie during the project? “I think I learned something about the dynamic he experienced between public life and private life, between his impatience and energy on the one hand and his need for stability and security – about what it’s like to travel so much you don’t sleep, and perform on-stage wearing heels. Things like that, you would not gain from conventional research,” says Brooker.

Help shape the film

Hastings is beyond lucky to be the first audience to set eyes on Being Bowie: Act 1. The film includes TV and radio interviews, Brooker’s own performance footage, photoshoots, Super-8 and video diaries. Audience members will have the chance to feed back on the film and help shape Act 2. The Electric Palace’s Summer Music Season curator, the Emmy-award winning comedy writer and Hastings resident, David Quantick, will host the Q&A. Expect Brooker to be in Bowie mode, too, but you’ll have to go along to find out which era…

Hastings memories

“I actually had a very interesting encounter in Hastings. A burly, tough-looking man stared very hard at me while I sat outside a pub wearing the Bowie ‘Pierrot’ make-up, then came over to me. He said ‘I’m not even gonna ask.’ I told him I was a professor doing a research project about David Bowie. He took a moment then said ‘You cheeky c–t. Good luck to you,’ shaking my hand…

Grab tickets before it’s too late

Book now for Being Bowie: Act 1, includes Q&A with Professor Will Brooker and David Quantick on Saturday 11 June: 8pm.

Posted 06:39 Monday, Jun 6, 2016 In: Film

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