Televised interviews are part of virtually every rock star’s life, and David Bowie was no exception. He appeared on scores of talk shows over the years to promote his various films, albums, and tours. And, as one might guess, he grew weary of hearing the same old questions time and again and was especially impatient with anyone who might want to pigeonhole his work or delve unnecessarily into his private life. As a YouTube montage called “David Bowie Gets Annoyed” shows, the Thin White Duke was an expert at shutting that kind of thing down immediately, often with a simple “no” uttered in that powder-dry voice of his. The video offers some valuable insight into Bowie’s ambivalent relationship with the press. He understands the importance of publicity, of course, but he also wants to retain some degree of opacity.
What’s remarkable is that the gentlemanly, well-mannered Bowie rarely loses his cool in these situations. He’s not the type to raise his voice in anger or storm off a set (apart from one guitar-tossing onstage meltdown included here). His strategy, generally, is to shut off like a faucet. One particularly memorable standoff occurs between the singer and a British television presenter named Russell Harty, who interviewed the singer via satellite. Throughout their uncomfortable conversation, Harty seems determined to irk or provoke Bowie with silly questions about hair, earrings, and the Bay City Rollers, and Bowie expertly stonewalls him every time. Another interviewer presses him about his bisexuality, a topic Bowie is not too keen to discuss at length in this particular forum. So he offers a simple, terse “I’ve answered the question” in response. Over the years, Bowie seemed to realize how silly these shows truly are, so later interviews show him demonstrating a rather impish sense of humor in dodging personal questions or rejecting labels. He still shuts down interviewers like a boss, but he does it with a smile and a laugh.