The Origin of Bowie’s Eye Patch?

I was reading more of these amazing Mirabelle magazine diaries of Bowie’s from the early-mid Seventies, and found what I thought was an amazing bit of Bowie trivia about the whys and wherefores of his famous eyepatch:

 Well, I promised you last week that I would tell you about my recent trip to Amsterdam where I went to collect The Edison Award – a statuette presented to me as outstanding foreign performer. It was all great fun really and, of course, I travelled overland with Angie and little Zowie.

   We stayed at the hotel where the award was being presented, and we all found it very attractive… But, unfortunately, I had a little trouble with my eye which had started watering quite a bit shortly after I arrived.

   By the time of the actual presentation, I had to wear a patch over my eye – which, of course, didn’t distract from my natural good looks – and I wore green dungarees and a pair of high brown boots. Angie looked very stunning, really sophisticated in a chic beige dress with a roll neck and a super swirly skirt.

Unfortunately, a bit later I was scoping out the site a bit more, and found this more recent diary entry from Bowie just a decade ago:

Back in journal-land, I found the Bowie diaries on Little Wonderworld and, boy did they take me back. But did I write them? Well, here’s the awful truth. Not a word. This was a time when I had decided to give my public life over to an extraordinary woman called Cherry Vanilla an actress and performer whom I had hired to be my PR.

I had seen her in the London performance of the Warhol play ‘Pork’ (written of course by someone else). She had such a great sense of humor and imagination that I told her to make things up about what Ziggy/Bowie was doing and to publish it. Whenever these stories got back to me, I would just confirm them and the events would become part of my real/unreal life…  So when this teeny magazine out of the UK wanted me to write for them, I just passed the job on to Cherry. And of course, she just wrote about her own life, like what shows she was seeing, where she ate and all that. If Cherry loved or hated something or someone it was Ziggy/Bowie who loved/hated it. You get the idea.

Goddam it!  The journal entries were forgeries!  Cherry Vanilla and Bowie knew back in the seventies that I would soon be born, and conspired to make me feel a fool.  Now I know how the people who read the Hitler Diaries must have felt.

 Still, I wonder whether being a sometime publicist of David’s, she might not have written the story based on his real recounting of the incident?  What if the eyepatch was not a deliberate attempt to become a glam rock space pirate, but instead a divine accident caused by some sort of sexually transmitted pink eye?  Funky funky indeed!

7 thoughts on “The Origin of Bowie’s Eye Patch?

  1. I think that was a brilliant move on his part, to have Cherry Vanilla help forge the Bowie/Ziggy myth. It’s a very Warhol thing to do, don’t you think? Plus I’m sure the inevitable occurred to some extent, and Bowie became what was written about him.

  2. This duality or shared fate in the creation of a legend is explored in MGSV: The Phantom Pain. The series has had a number of allusions to David Bowie as well. The Man Who Sold The World is a prominent piece of music in the game also.

  3. This week the secret was revealed in a dutch late night news show (“Pauw”). In this news show the make-up artist Arjen van der Grijn of “Koot & Bie” and Jiskefet was honored by Kasper van Kooten (son of Koot, Kees van Kooten) and Herman Koch (before his career as a writer he was actor of Jiskefet).

    Van der Grijn also worked for “Kunt uij de weg naar Hamelen vertellen” (a television sequel for youth) and for Top-pop (the one famous pop music program in the Netherlands).

    (Continued) ….

    1. When Bowie arrived at the set it turned out he had a thick eye (irritated or equal), and was not presentable on television. Van der Gijn looked around in his belongings, and spotted the eye patch used before in “Hamelen”.

      Van der Gijn’s comment on this story in the news Show: “I never got the eye patck back”.

  4. Funny story is that the Dutch make-up artist (Grimeur), Arjen van der Grijn, came up with the eye patch solution, as he had one in his make-up bag also used for a Dutch children’s series (‘Kunt u ons de weg naar Hamelen vertellen meneer?’).

    1. I need to write a second blog post about that–at some point, years after writing this, I did a long and serious internet hunt and found photos of THE eyepatch as it appeared on the show.

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