Near the beginning of The Woman in Red, a 1984 comedy written and directed by and starring Gene Wilder (it’s a remake of a French film whose title translates to “An Elephant Can Be Extremely Deceptive,” though it’s also known as “Pardon My Affair”), his character meets his daughter’s new boyfriend, who’s sporting a multicolored Mohawk. The daughter explains that they’re going to a David Bowie concert together; Wilder then mispronounces the singer’s last name as “Boo-ee.”
Implying that teenage “punks” with Mohawks in the mid-’80s were big fans of Let’s Dance-era Bowie doesn’t quite signal the old-white-guy ignorance of Quincy‘s “Next Stop, Nowhere” episode, but it’s in the ballpark. The glam rock of the early ’70s did influence punk rock, of course, just as proto-punks like Lou Reed influenced Bowie, so it’s not inconceivable that you’d find some androgynous fans still dressing like Ziggy Stardust at Bowie’s concerts in ’84. But the leather-jacket-and-safety-pins kind of punk? Only if he’s misinformed about what’s “punk” and what’s not, or if he’s experiencing a teenage identity crisis.
That may have been Wilder’s aim when he came up with the idea of the boyfriend having a Mohawk, but since he was 50 when he shot The Woman in Red, I’m going to go with a little from column A — “I want to make a subtle point about insecure teenagers and parents who feel like they’re behind the times in my character-based comedy” — and a little bit more from column B — “Let me tell you, these kids today with their crazy music …”
Below is the first disc of the “Baton Rouge” bootleg (come back next week for disc two), recorded on April 11, 1978, at Louisiana State University. Bowie and his band, which includes Carlos Alomar, Roger Powell, and Adrian Belew, play a lot of songs from Low and “Heroes” (both were released in ’77) as well as previous hits like “The Jean Genie” and “Fame.” Bowie’s 1978 U.S. tour was also officially documented on the live album Stage.
What in the World
Be My Wife
The Jean Genie
Sense of Doubt
Speed of Life
Beauty and the Beast