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The 1973 Cherry Vanilla Interview

Cherry Vanilla was (is— she’s still very much alive) a figure out of Andy Warhol’s “Factory” who, among other things, appeared in Warhol’s infamous play, Pork in 1971. Bowie saw the play and hired various people involved with the production including Cherry Vanilla, who he hired as a publicist. Her tactics as a publicist were unconventional — for instance she had an open offer to perform oral sex on disc jockeys who would play Bowie music (her autobiography is titled, Lick Me).

Far Out Magazine recently published an article that included a link to this audio recording of an interview Cherry did with Bowie in 1973 (click on the title, which is a link to the article).

Much of the relatively brief interview sounds like a fan from the era asking questions of Ziggy Stardust. She asks a variety of questions about Bowie’s affinity for the letter Z, connections to Mars, inspiration from unworldly sources and whether or not he’s seen UFOs. Humorously, or sadly, there’s this exchange about drugs in which Bowie admits to having had used drugs, but not writing or performing under the influence. Cherry establishes that Bowie is against drugs. In reality, Bowie was spiraling towards cocaine addiction at the time and soon would be giving more prominent television interviews in which he was clearly high.

Bowie talks a little about his songwriting method— nothing really new there, but the most intriguing topic that came up was something that never came to pass— Bowie starring as Valentine Michael Smith (the lead character in Robert Heinlein’s science fiction novel, Stranger in a Strange Land), and then doing the soundtrack for the movie (presumably a movie, but they don’t actually say in the interview). Bowie never appeared in such a movie and to my knowledge the movie was never made. That said, Bowie would go on to appear as Thomas Newton in The Man Who Fell to Earth, which has certain similarities to Stranger in a Strange Land (notably, both main characters come to Earth from another planet). Bowie intended to do the soundtrack for that movie too, but it didn’t happen. Bowie says in this interview that he had soundtrack music in his head that he was planning to develop for the project. I’m not sure if he ever subsequently explained what he was referring to and if whatever it was turned into a song we now know in a different context.

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