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David Bowie had sex with underage girls. Is that creepy or cool?

15 January 2016

1:52 PM

15 January 2016

1:52 PM

Though I adored David Bowie as a teenybopper, I felt that one would have had to have a heart of stone not to laugh at the lush smorgasbord of lachrymosity that accompanied his death earlier this week. I said as much in a short blog on these very pages. Soon I was trending on Twitter, and from the comments you’d have thought that I’d shot, cooked and eaten Shergar the Racehorse.

But I stand by what I said. Like Princess Diana and Nookie the Bear before him, Bowie was not some selfless saint; he was a sharp-eyed, ambitious creature who once floated himself on the Stock Market in the 1990s, and sold himself for the advertising shilling – when already a millionaire many times over – in 2006 to a bottled water company.

I strayed upon the Facebook page of the excellent feminist essayist Louise Pennington, who had already been driven to distraction by grieving trolls. Her crime had been to remind us that David Bowie, in the first flush of global fame, had had quite a lot of sex with underage girls in Los Angeles. In one notorious case, he had helped himself to the virginity of a 13-year-old named Lori Maddox, who went on to act as sperm receptacle/muse to other rock stars. She was part of the so-called ‘Baby Groupies’ circle. Ever practical, my first thoughts were not ‘What a cad!’ but ‘O my days, the tabloids will be all over this as soon as the tears have dried, and there’s just no point in his fans (of which I was the most fervent in my early teens) burying our collective heads in the sand. WE NEED TO GET OUR STORY STRAIGHT!’ After all, it can’t be a crime when rubbish entertainers sleep with children, and all fine and dandy when great ones do. A bit of rigour never goes amiss.


Looking back, I remember I had heard about the ‘Baby Groupie’ scene when I was practically jailbait myself and had just joined the New Musical Express. One of Bowie’s foremost forelock-tuggers, a fellow hack NME hack who now likes to think of himself as a feminist, had said to me snarkily one day ‘In L.A, you’d be considered over the hill at 17. You’d only be useful for driving your younger sisters to clubs!’ I thought of myself at 13; would I have had sex with Bowie, given the chance? You bet! Do I think it was creepy Bowie had sex with 13-year-olds? Without doubt. (In such situations I find myself very grateful for the old F Scott Fitz quote ‘The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.’) Mind you, youth is a fickle jade.

Lori Mattix said many years later ‘You need to understand that I didn’t think of myself as underage. I was a model. I was in love. That time of my life was so much fun. It was a period in which everything seemed possible. I saw the greatest music ever. I got to hang out with some of the most amazing, most beautiful, most charismatic men in the world. I went to concerts in limos with police escorts. Am I going to regret this? No. Besides, I had been the last virgin in my high school.’ It is always a mistake for feminists to strip women they do not agree with of agency, and seek to paint them as confused poltroons suffering from good old ‘false consciousness’, as when Chrissie Hynde claimed culpability in her sexual assault by a biker gang as a teenager and was roundly scolded by the sisterhood. It could be argued – as in the case of Lori Mattix – that it is not at all feminist to demand that individual women falsify their feelings about their experiences in order to fit in with the prevailing orthodoxy on any given women’s concern.

Still, it’s a creepy old business, and the creepiest thing about it is the silence from broads who should know better, but who cannot bear to let anything get in the way of their hero’s canonisation. Really, you’d have thought that recent events in Germany would have taught we enlightened people the folly of ignoring unpleasant truths in the hope that they’ll waft away on a candyfloss-scented breeze.

A lot of the feminist writers currently wearing black for Bowie have teenage daughters. Would they have thought it a blessing for David Bowie to bag their beloved girls virtue when she was a kiddy? Just because you don’t have all the answers doesn’t mean you can’t ask any questions. And mine is this: under some circumstances, would you excuse, worship, deify a man who has knowingly had sex with children, if he had created music which you passionately believe made the world a better place? Or not?

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Show comments
  • Gad Fly

    He was just a fu**ing pop star. Since when do people expect pop/rock stars to be paragons of virtue? The whole premise of your article makes absolutely NO sense!

  • DPY

    It’s just natural for guys to like younger girls. It’s reality.

  • TheCityGirl

    Here’s the problem with your argument “It is always a mistake for feminists to strip women they do not agree with of agency.” She was NOT a woman when this happened, she was a child – period. We have statutory rape laws for a reason. As an adult she’s free to frame it however she wants for herself, but that doesn’t diminish the way she was exploited at 13.

  • Pat Lamb

    As a female, what is really shocking is how many people automatically believe and assume what Lori Maddox is saying is true about her alleged one night stand she said she had with David Bowie. This story of hers has been circulating around for years, but now all these so called feminists and social justice warriors waited until right after David’s passing to claim he is a rapist. To not have given David a chance to respond to these allegations is downright cowardly. Although I applaud Lori’s positive statements about her alleged evening with David, Lori also admits to taking drugs, so who can say how much of her memory of this event is factual. The important issue here is where were Lori’s parents when she was running around at all hours of the night in seductive outfits, drinking alcohol and taking drugs? Aren’t her parents accountable for Lori’s actions? For anyone to print these hateful comments about David online without getting all the facts is libelous and shameful. It is an embarrassment to all women when these so called feminists continue to make these alleged horrific comments about this beautiful man. We should all remember what kind of generous and artistic man David as underscored in his performance of “Heroes” at the Bridge School Benefit Concert:

  • Richard Lutz

    Never warmed to David Bowie as he seemed a bit up himself (‘Heroes’ brings to mind ‘Tomorrow Belongs to Me’), whereas one got the impression that musicians like John Lennon cared about other people (‘Imagine’).

  • David Greenhalgh

    The Lori Maddox (not Mattix – and Burchill an ex NME journalist – really??) and Sable Starr groupie story is well known rock ‘n roll history and I’m not defending it, but this scene was part of 70’s life in LA. This wasn’t a hidden thing and there is no comparison with the vile rapist, Saville. I don’t know about other underage girls although I understand Bowie is known to have experimented sexually during that period in other ways. A feminist friend posted up the following article the day after Bowie’s death which I shared with a couple of people, I think it is quite well balanced and better than Burchill’s third hand plagiarism of the sentiment and fake probing moral questions. If it is not a question of scale, but a basic principle, then I certainly won’t be taking guidance from Burchill, supporter of the abuse of Palestinian children – whatever state of self-righteous tribal denial she wishes to wallow in: