Teenage Wildlife

Close Encounter with DB

by Jane Gilmartin

I too have had a close encounter with Bowie. Very close, indeed! Many of you have likely heard this story several times, as I have retold it on ocassion. Alas, I never tire of it...it was at the Boston show of the Outside tour last year. A local radio station was giving away a chance to meet Bowie backstage before the show. They asked the question "From which Bowie-related work comes the phrase 'per adua ad astra'....the answer, of course ... The Man Who Fell to Earth. Anyway, that was the easy part...I also had to be the right caller (number 4!) Guess who got through?

Well, the night of the show we were escorted backstage and I was incredibly nervous. I had had run-ins with Bowie in the past but had never been able to find my voice and the chance had ended...this time I was determined simply to talk.

The backstage area (a tent) was filled with all these hotshot record and radio people....and then there was me and my friend. A man came out and told us we were to form a line and Bowie would come out and speak to each of us in turn. I of course, was first in said line. The man also said that Bowie would sign no autographs and there were to be no photos taken other than a group shot of which we'd all get a copy.

About 30 seconds later, out walks David Bowie. He came right over to me, a big smile on his face, took my hand and said, very simply, "hello, how are you?" I couldn't believe this was finally happening to me after waiting and trying and scheming and chasing limos and waiting in hotel lobbies for so many years. That he was actually coming over to me of his own accord like this. I said the only thing that was in my head. "Mr. Bowie, this is such an important moment for me." And, despite my best efforts at being "cool," I could feel the tears coming on. When Bowie saw this, his whole face just changed. The smile was gone and he looked, well, kind of touched. He leaned in closer to me and put a hand on my shoulder. "Don't cry," he told me. All I could say was "I love you so much."

Before the words were even all the way out of my mouth, Bowie had thrown his arms around me and was hugging me...a very tight, very long and very real hug. It lasted long enough for the fact to really register in my head that this was DAVID BOWIE hugging me! I kept repeating over and over, "I love you so much, I love you so much" and then let out a few hardy "Oh my Gods" as it really sunk in. I remember hearing all this nervous laughter behind me....everyone else who were still waiting to meet him. When the hug ended, Bowie kept my hand in his and he still leaned in a bit so that his eyes were absolutely locked on mine. I truly got the feeling that Bowie knew exactly how much this moment meant to me and that he had decided to do what he could to make it as memorable and special as he could. He never once, for a moment, let go of my hand.

I gave him a copy of a poem I had written for him 12 years earlier. I had given this poem to Iggy Pop, to Reeves (Gabrels) ....and always had a fresh copy with me whenever Bowie played..just in case. To be able to actually put it in his hand was beyond belief to me. His face seemed to melt into a smile as he took it from my hand and out it in his coat pocket. He patted his pocket as if to assure me he would read it, all the while, still holding my hand. Then I thanked him for all the music and the wonderful influence he had had on my life. And he walked on to the next person in line (my friend). He said to her, jokingly, "c'mon, where's the emotion, where are my tears?"

Jane Gilmartin

As he went on to greet the other 15 or so people, I stood shaking and dazed in a corner while Bowie's entourage did what they could to ensure I didn't faint on the floor. (They were very nice). When it came time for the group photo, I didn't think I was even going to be able to walk across the room to join it.

Just then, Bowie looked around the room and, when he spotted me, he held his arms out and asked "would you like to stand with me?" "YES!!" I said, and I virtually ran over there. I expected to stand next to him, perhaps, but he put both his arms around my shoulders and held me in front of him, very close, right in the center of the group. And that is how the photo was taken. Then, despite the thing about not signing autographs, he did indeed sign my album cover of Low. One of his own people asked him, "would you sign this for her?" and Bowie said "of course I will," and asked my name. That album cover (and I am glad it wasn't the cd) is now framed and has the place of honor in my living room.

I never thought I could love Bowie more than I already did, but after that, he actually managed to go up a good couple of notches in my book. I guess I never imagined that he could be so sweet. I never felt more special in my life....and to think I was hoping only for a handshake!

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This document last updated Thursday, 14-Dec-2000 14:45:12 EST
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