No less understated than Ziggy Stardust himself or lacking any of the charismatic camp of Scary Monsters-era Bowie, the line-up for the hotly-anticipated, unashamedly celebratory Bowie Ball in association with Worlds Inc. Bowie World, at the first ever David Bowie World Fan Convention has been announced. The elaborate, carefully-curated centrepiece of the first fan-gathering of its kind takes place at Liverpool’s Mountford Hall during the city-wide weekend events spanning Fri 17 – Sun 19 June 2022.
With fans and guests flying in from all corners of the globe and each encouraged to outdo each other in the costume-stakes, the chance to dress up and freak out to the sights and sounds associated with Bowie for one incredible night of reverie and revelry at the Bowie Ball will see nothing held back. Keeping the ball bouncing will be just-announced compere Jonny Woo, the Bowie-classic-singing drag artist and owner of world-famous, London LGBTQ+ venue The Glory, plus a founding member of Glastonbury’s drag scene at NYC Downlow.
Appropriately taking the non-literal route to paying tribute to the 20th Century’s most unconventional pop star, the convention welcomes hula-hoop artist Natasha Moonshine, dancer and performance artist Joshua Hubbard, never-understated performance artist Pretentious Dross and Liverpool’s incomparably exhilarating Eat Me Club to set an impossibly glamorous scene. The layers of immaculately-applied make-up will dazzle in equal measure to the layers of Bowie’s chameleonic artistry referenced in each, specially-devised performance.
Joining in the celebrations, Bowie World is announced as sponsor of the centrepiece Bowie Ball. Worlds Inc. (OTCQB: WDDD) worked directly with Bowie himself and Bowie’s son, Duncan Jones, to create the first ever celebrity virtual reality space in 1998, the same year as Bowienet. Designed by Bowie as an online space where fans and Bowie could interact with each other and experience Bowie’s art and music, it is still live today in its original format and is the oldest continuously running metaverse. Worlds Inc and Bowie World will soon announce a new initiative to coincide with the convention, as well as collaborate on event designs, projections and exclusive social media content.
“In honour of David’s 75th birthday and the 50th anniversary of Ziggy Stardust, we are excited to sponsor the Bowie Ball and place a spotlight on how David was such a visionary in furthering music and fan engagement via technology,” says Thom Kidrin, CEO of World’s Inc. and Bowie World co-creator. “In this milestone year we will introduce initiatives to allow fans to utilise today’s advanced technology (which David would certainly be embracing) to experience and capture David’s excitement and foresight, just as he was helping to shape the future of the music and entertainment industry over 20 years ago.”
Sensitively stewarded by the partnership of Liverpool’s Sound City annual music festival and the passion behind the best-selling David Bowie Glamour fanzine, hand-picked musical accompaniments are also confirmed, first with internationally-touring, career-spanning, six-strong tribute experience, Rebel Heroes. Sliding in alongside the live and loud music are party-starting specialist DJs TheMenWhoFell2Earth and Sonic Yootha, both digging deep into the much-missed musical hero’s back-catalogue, the hits of associated artists and tasty, Bowie-related tangents to tempt ticket-holders onto the dancefloor.
Amongst the most striking additions to the convention line-up away from the glitter of the ballroom is Italian ceramic artist Maria Primolan and her sculptures of Bowie’s instantly-recognisable likenesses during distinct periods of his shape-shifting career. Using a breadth of sculptural and ceramic-firing methods, Primolan’s practice has been devoted to Bowie’s image. Primolan will visit Liverpool to show her latest work, from delicately coloured panels detailing Bowie’s powder-faced, Ashes to Ashes clown persona to 3D busts of the head-of-curls and beret-clad The Man Who Sold The World-era. Also exhibiting will be painter Shaun Lowndes whose vivid, comic-book surrealism has earned critical and public acclaim.
Amongst those who knew David Bowie, few knew him on as many levels as drummer John Cambridge, whose attendance at the convention has been confirmed. Whilst being on hand at key life events, including Bowie passing his driving test, it was also on the musical front, introducing Bowie to Spiders From Mars guitar legend Mick Ronson and drumming on 1969’s Space Oddity album, that Cambridge made huge contributions. He visits Liverpool amongst an enviable line-up of authors after publishing his own autobiography, Bowie, Cambo and All The Hype.
Many of the most influential image-makers from throughout Bowie’s career will be present, in person or through their iconic images, over the weekend. Just added is Tim Bret-Day, whose elaborate work across fashion and music included the artwork and promotional imagery for Bowie’s 1999 album …hours. The range of shots taken included an inner-sleeve shot that required a dummy of Bowie himself to be produced before being set alight. Bret-Day will arrive with limited edition prints and answers to fans’ questions.
After it was announced last year that Liverpool, UK would be host to the first globally-significant fan convention of its kind, the high-profile names first revealed to be in attendance included guitarist, Carlos Alomar and his wife, singer with both Bowie and Chic, Robin Clark; bassist, Gail Ann Dorsey and the last surviving Spider From Mars, drummer Woody Woodmansey. Having collaborated on Bowie’s final album, Blackstar, saxophonist Donny McCaslin attends with special perspectives on the icon’s creative drive as time appeared to be running out.
Represented amongst the great Bowie image makers is Brian Duffy of the Aladdin Sane lightning flash fame, via The Duffy Archive. As Bowie’s official photographer on his 1983 Serious Moonlight world tour, just one of his official engagements with the artist and friend, Denis O’Regan appears in Liverpool having witnessed many sides of the man at work and play. Philippe Auliac’s 30-plus year professional and personal relationship with Bowie from behind-the-lens, starting in 1976, will also be represented by Auliac in-person and numerous famous and rarely-seen examples of his work.
Working with Bowie from 2002’s Heathen album, through the closely-guarded, surprise release of 2013’s The Next Day and onto the intricately packaged final album Blackstar in 2016, graphic designer Jonathan Barnbrook will talk about what it took to make Bowie’s visual ideas a reality. Amongst the influential authors to have added their words to exploring the enigma, author of The Complete David Bowie, Nicholas Pegg and writer of Any Day Now: David Bowie The London Years (1947-1974) Kevin Cann are on hand to take fans into the depths of the artist’s professional life over half a century. Cann also worked as a creative assistant on Bowie’s first solo art exhibition, held in Cork Street, London in 1995.
The David Bowie World Fan Convention brings David Bowie’s story back to Liverpool, a city which the artist played numerous times at different stages of his career, starting on Sat 8 April 1967 with The Riot Squad, performing on board the famous Royal Iris, a ferry that ran regular music cruises up the River Mersey. Bowie’s last appearance in Liverpool was on Sat 2 Aug 1997, with the arena-filling icon performing for a relatively intimate crowd of 2,000 people at the Royal Court Theatre.
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