When bowie came to stay

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When Bowie slept in my bed


BY CHRIS BUXBAUM


My first apartment was a semi flat with no not running water above my Dad's transport caff The Go To It Café in Park Royal, London. 


The upstairs had not been lived in for 10 years, but I took 2 of the rooms and cleaned and decorated them. The rest of the place was dusty and kinda spooky.

Downstairs the caff was giant and busy. It had once or twice been used as a film location due to its proximity to BBC's Shepherds Bush Studio. 


Imagine my shock when my Dad said they were going to shoot a movie (The Hunger) there and oh, by the way DAVID BOWIE is in it! 


I did not believe him and was sure he was pulling my leg, but it really was true.


I got the day off work  (with great difficulty), still not sure if Bowie was actually going to be in the scene they were shooting that day. I had been a devoted fan for 10 years at this point and my nerves were totally shot. The day before the crew had blacked out all the windows in the caff and parked 2 yellow NYC cabs outside. 


They turned one half of the inside into a real American diner complete with flickering neon signs and chrome counters.

The crew arrived early the next day and YES, Bowie was there in his limo driven, if memory serves me, by the same chauffeur from The Man Who Fell To Earth. About an hour later a production assistant asked my Dad if Bowie could use the flat upstairs as his trailer had not showed up. 


My Dad says "ask my son its, his place." 


How could I say no? It didn't bear thinking about David Bowie being in my crappy flat above a greasy spoon in a crappy part of London. What were the chances?

My plan was simple. After I was introduced, I was going to stay out of the way all day until he was finished working and then try and get some pictures with him and maybe get an album or two signed. 


I figured if I was respectful and didn't act like a rabid fan, I would get better results.  It wasn't easy. 


The place was next to Park Royal Hospital and while they were setting up the shot, loads of nurses came over to ogle and chat. He signed tons of autographs and was gracious and funny with everyone.

I hung back - keeping to my plan.


The way it was set up I could see the shoot through an interior archway from about 4 feet away. They shot the 2 minute scene numerous times from 7a.m. til 7 p.m. The scene (which got cut from the final movie), takes place while Bowie's Hunger is increasing but before he has started to age. 


A young punky girl in a vinyl raincoat, possibly a hooker - played by Zoe Wannamaker, is sitting in a booth. Bowie joins her and makes polite conversation and buys her a hamburger. He says You should get away from me while you can. but she doesn't understand what he means. The burger arrives and she takes one bite. This is very funny because she did this about 20 times and was a vegetarian. She seemed to get greener by the take. She starts to shake the ketchup. It accidentally goes all over her fetching vinyl punk clothing looks like blood dripping down. Bowie's eyes flicker, his breathing quickens and he licks his lips. End of scene.


During the afternoon break, Bowie says he is knackered (he does look tired and possibly a little hungover) and can he take a nap in my bed? How could I refuse? 



The bedroom was just a mattress on a floor of Japanese straw mats and big Kanji painted on the walls. On my bedside table was a ZG (Zeitgeist) magazine, an intellectual art mag. This specific issue was about S & M/Fetishism in art and he read it for half and hour before taking a short nap. When he awoke they reapplied his make-up at a makeshift movie star mirror they installed in my living room. I offered him some wine which he drank straight from the bottle. I took his picture with the wine which he wasn't very happy about (you can tell in the photograph). He said we will take some more later, I promise.


The workday filming wound to a close and I had all my albums lined up expectantly.  Space Oddity through to Scary Monsters plus tons of bootlegs. He came up and we took a few pictures. He looked through all my albums by other artists and asked me what I thought was cool and what clubs were happening. 



I had DJ'd at the Blitz  in Covent Garden as a cover for Rusty Egan and was currently Djing at a night called The Great Wall playing only Asian music. He was very interested in that. He pulled out my original 45 of Prettiest Star and said he didn't even have a copy himself. He played it and commented on how amazing he thought Marc Bolan's guitar solo was. After about an hour he went downstairs and asked his driver if he minded waiting a little longer. I couldn't believe it.


We chatted more about Bolan.  He talked about how  in 1974,  William Burroughs had told him to stop dressing outrageously. He said it was more subversive for an artist to blend into the background. 


He signed all my albums except for the bootlegs and took my original Space Oddity  and made notations on George Underwood's painting on the back, pointing out who the Guru was and that the girl was Hermoine. I still have it till this day. 


He showed me a picture of him and Zowie on the ski slopes and met my sister and my girlfriend who arrived later.

He finally left me with a  promo picture that said "To Chris, Thanks for the use of your Gaff (and the sounds) Bowie 82".


Thanks very much indeed to Pete F for sharing this story and the photos of the day itself below.