The legend of Leigh Bowery (Part one)

9 Nov
Leigh Boweryleigh Bowery, ph. Fergus Greer, Novenber 1988

My friend Eddy (De Clercq) has shared many memories with me about his famous club RoXY in Amsterdam, my favorite hangout for years. Some of the memories involve Leigh Bowery, artist, dancer, designer, creator of nightclub Taboo  and professional provocateur.

Curious about this man, his amazing creations and stage performances, I found a documentary called The Legend of Leigh Bowery, which contains footage Eddy told me about, like the act The Birth and the weird wigs Leigh wore as daywear…

leigh-bowery-womanLeigh Bowery with assistant Nicola Bateman, ph. Fergus Greer

Short Biography

Leigh Bowery  was an Australian performance artist, club promoter, actor, pop star, model, and fashion designer, based in London. Bowery is considered one of the more influential figures in the 1980s and 1990s London and New York City art and fashion circles influencing a generation of artists and designers. His influence reached through the fashion, club and art worlds to impact, amongst others, Meadham Kirchhoff, Alexander McQueen, Lucian Freud, Vivienne Westwood, Boy George, Antony and the Johnsons,  John Galliano, the Scissor Sisters, David LaChapelle, Lady Bunny plus numerous Nu-Rave bands and nightclubs in London and New York City which arguably perpetuated his avant-garde ideas.

From a young age, Leigh Bowery (born 26 March 1961) felt alienated from his conservative surroundings. He first learned about London and the New Romantic scene through British fashion magazines. 

c838c4d0b925bd687936ce8002a580c7Leigh Bowery in I-D magazine

Leigh moved to London for good in 1980, after taking a fashion course in high school. He became a known fixture at local clubs, in part for wearing outlandish outfits of his own design. 

In London, he soon befriended fellow clubbers Guy Barnes (known as Trojan) and David Walls. The three men moved in together, and Leigh outfitted his friends in his creative designs. The trio became known on the London club scene as the “Three Kings.”

Leigh found some success as a designer, showing several collections at the London Fashion Week show, as well as in New York and Tokyo. He was best known, however, as a club promoter and London nightlife fixture. In 1985, he opened the disco club nightclub Taboo. Originally an underground party, Taboo quickly became London’s answer to Studio 54. Taboo was known for its defiance of sexual convention, and its embrace of what Leigh called “polysexual” identities.

Leigh BoweryLeigh Bowery in Face magazine, ph. Nick Knight

In addition to his club activities, Leigh participated in performance art and was well-connected within the art and theater circles of London. He often performed in face paint, lurex clothing and masks, relishing the opportunity to shock and flout convention whenever possible. He also served as a model, posing nude for some of Lucien Freud’s later portraits.

Leigh Bowery, who had identified as gay for many years, married his friend, Nicola Bateman (something to do with papers he needed), in May 1994. Only a few close friends were aware that Leigh had contracted AIDS before his death from AIDS-related illness, which occurred in London on New Year’s Eve in 1994, seven months after his marriage.


 Leigh Bowery Series by Fergus Greer

leigh bowery by fergus greer

leigh bowery by fergus greer

Leigh Bowery by Fergus Greer

Leigh Bowery by fergus greer

leigh bowery by fergus greer

leigh bowery by fergus greer



Leigh Bowery: indisputably an embodiment of the 1980’s club scene in London and a provocative influence for a generation of artists.  The creator of Taboo – in more ways than the infamous nightclub – injects an outrageousness that inspired Boy George, Damien Hirst, Rifat Ozbek… the list goes on. The list is topped off with Charles Atlas, the man behind the camera for this amazing documentary

The documentary is also named in the Top Ten Cult Fashion Documentaries of Dazed & Confused magazine…. (



Leigh Bowery



One Response to “The legend of Leigh Bowery (Part one)”

  1. A.G.Nauta couture 9 November 2014 at 11:28 #

    Hallo, ik ontvang zojuist een mailtje via mijn blog A.G.Nauta couture, waarin staat: Please STOP the mails , Thank you.
    Ik stuur geen mailtjes. Het enige wat ik me kan bedenken wat er gaande is, dat je je ooit het woordje ‘Follow’ hebt aangevinkt en daarom mailtjes krijgt. Ik kan daar niets aan veranderen, dat kun je alleen zelf doen, door het te stoppen met ‘Follow’, dan krijg je vanzelf geen mailtjes meer.

    met vriendelijke groet,
    Netty Nauta

Leave a Reply to A.G.Nauta couture Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: