|David Bowie - Postcards from Sailor - Edition 23|
Fans of David Bowie have known for years about his double life on the internet, posting on official fan forums and communicating using the alias Sailor. Renown for being among the first stars to chat openly with fans via his pioneering site/server BowieNet, Bowie has long been rumoured to have frequented other Bowie fan sites as well – Teenage Wildlife, Bowie Wonderland and Bowie Station – answering questions and sharing opinions via the same handle.
Between 1998 and 2004 Bowie spent so much time interacting with fans that some publicly wished he’d get offline and go back into the studio. “I remember when ever he posted suddenly hundreds of replies would end up in the thread,” says DavidBowie.com user Swebby. “There would be page after page of stuff the moment he just said two words or more.” So far, two books have been made of these postings.
Dispensing with the elevated personae by which he was best known, Bowie wasn’t afraid to express himself robustly as Sailor, especially when it came to one topic: how much he hated Australia.
In 2004, months after his last Australian tour, Australian fan Adam lamented on Teenage Wildlife that Bowie didn’t release the entire 35 hours of the Outside/Inside sessions.
Sailor replied with a post entitled ‘Whining kangaroo eater!’:
So do you ask every rock legend to sort through 35 hours of material or just the ones who recently had heart surgery? Have you no shame? I came to your fucking craphole of a country to perform, but that's not enough. No sir, let's all ask the old man to walk on fuckin water and bend over backwards because we're the fans. Whatever, girlfriend!
When fellow Teenage Wildlife user Ziggfried suggested other fans post the question that Bowie would least like to answer, Sailor leapt in again:
…every time someone gets on my case about touring in Australia I want to smack them. Any country that produced both Paul Hogan, Yahoo Serious, and the Crocodile Hunter is one that I generally try to stay away from.
A complete list of Sailor’s contributions to Teenage Wildlife can be found here. Unfortunately Bowie’s extensive posts at BowieNet were lost when the site closed down in 2006 but many gems, such as Bowie’s response to the passing of mime artist Marcel Marceau – “no last words?” – have been immortalised by fans.
David Bowie - Postcards From Sailor - Edition 25
Since first arriving in Australia on his Isolar II World Tour in 1978 (Isolar, an anagram of Sailor), Bowie has publicly professed his love for the country. He shot the pioneering Let’s Dance and China Girl film clips here and owned an apartment in Sydney’s Elizabeth Bay in which he sporadically lived between 1983 and 1992.
In an online chat in 1999, Bowie’s wife Imam mentioned that she’d never visited Australia and that “David has always promised to take me”. Later that year in another online chat Bowie explained his long absence as nothing personal: “I just haven't been asked to tour there in eleven years.”
Bowie berated Australia for its racial intolerance in a 1983 interview, he said: “as much as I love this country, it's probably one of the most racially intolerant in the world, well in line with South Africa…there’s unbelievable intolerance."
While Aboriginal Australia and the outback fascinated Bowie, it seems Australian culture (and Sydney’s escalating property prices) didn’t impress him much. Perhaps these conflicting feelings, growing stronger as he grew older, only make Bowie more Australian than he realised he was?
Sail on Sailor.