UK Professor Slips into David Bowie's Many Skins for Research Project
Published Aug 18, 2015Well, if we thought David Bowie was a chameleon, wait until you get a load of Kingston University professor Will Brooker. The English academic is currently undertaking an extensive year-long experiment in which he's dressing up as the famous, fashion-forward rock star and recreating parts of his life, all to get a better understanding of the iconic artist's outlook.
Since the beginning of the summer, Brooker has been, well, undergoing "Changes" modelled after Bowie's life on- and offstage. Already, he's gone through the Aladdin Sane phase, which had him donning an orange peacock hairdo and blue eye shadow.
Don't worry, Brooker isn't going through an identity crisis. Everything is hunky dory. The academic, who teaches film and cultural studies, is submerging himself in the skin of the famed chameleon as he puts together a monograph titled Forever Stardust.
"The idea is to inhabit Bowie's head space at points in his life and career to understand his work from an original angle, while retaining a critical and objective perspective at the same time — a kind of split persona perhaps," Brooker told the Guardian.
Getting further into character, Brooker has also been reading the same books that Bowie would have during these periods and has modelled his meal plans on the rock singer's apparently unique idea of nutrition.
"I start to dress like him, to wear make up like him and to follow his diet to a certain extent, which isn't a very healthy diet sometimes," Brooker told ABC [via the Mirror]. "I've gone for weekends, for instance, where I've just drank milk and ate red peppers."
The metamorphosis will go from glammy, Ziggy Stardust-leaning fashions towards the Philly soul approach of Bowie's Thin White Duke, through to his post-Man Who Fell to Earth Berlin period, as well as the boxy suits of the singer's early '80s Let's Dance era. The wardrobe has been tossed together via thrift store finds and a few tailored pieces.
Though he's been trying to hit every note of the recreation, with plans to travel to Berlin shortly, Brooker admitted he hasn't indulged in Bowie's once infamously mammoth-sized cocaine habit.
"The levels of cocaine Bowie was consuming is not just illegal for a professor like myself, but it's much too expensive — as well as unhealthy," Brooker said. "So at the weekend I had a six-pack of energy drinks to try and simulate the experience of illegal substances."
Brooker hasn't approached Bowie to get a thumbs-up, but he hopes the project would bring a smile to his hero's lips.
"I hope he would be interested in and amused by my research. I do feel, though, that everything he says and does in public is performance, so if he did hear about it, we would be unlikely to know what he genuinely thought."
You can trace Brooker's progress over here, and watch a TV news report about the project below.