Leigh Bowery

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Leigh Bowery
225 px
Born (1961-03-26)26 March 1961
Sunshine, Victoria, Australia
Died 31 December 1994(1994-12-31) (aged 33)
London, England
Occupation performance artist, fashion designer, club promoter, actor, and model
Years active 1980–1994
Spouse(s) Nicola Bateman (married 13 May 1994)

Leigh Bowery (26 March 1961 – 31 December 1994) 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, Lady Gaga, 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.

Minty and Freud

Promotional still from the documentary The Legend of Leigh Bowery.

In 1993, Bowery formed the band Minty with friend knitwear designer Richard Torry, Nicola Bateman, and Matthew Glammore.

In November 1994, Minty began a two-week-long show at London's Freedom Cafe, including audience member Alexander McQueen, but it was too much for Westminster City Council, who closed the show down after only one night. Minty was a financial loss and represented a low point in his colourful career. A spin-off band called The Offset later formed including artist Donald Urquhart.[1]

Personal life

Although Bowery always described himself as gay, he married his long-time companion Nicola Bateman on 13 May 1994 in Tower Hamlets, London. He died 7 months later on New Year's Eve, 1994, from an AIDS-related illness at the Middlesex Hospital, Westminster, London. This followed on from a five-week battle that only a handful of friends were informed about.[1][2]

In popular culture

Leigh Bowery played an intrinsic part in post-punk dance company of Michael Clark, where he designed costumes and also performed from 1984 right up until his death.

Bowery was the main inspiration for the Tranimal drag movement, which emphasized an animalistic and post-modern take on drag.[3][4]

The look of the character Vulva in the third episode of British TV comedy series Spaced was inspired by Leigh Bowery.[5]

In Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy season 2 episode 2, Noel is advised to give his fantasy block a physical / visual form. He describes it as ...rotund but kind of stylish, like a Leigh Bowery creation. Bowery had been an influence on Fielding's outlandish costume characters.[6]

Published works

  • Leigh Bowery Looks, by Leigh Bowery, Fergus Greer, published by Thames & Hudson Ltd; New Ed edition (2005); ISBN 0-500-28566-7
  • Leigh Bowery Looks by Leigh Bowery, Fergus Greer, published by Violette Editions (2006); ISBN 1-900828-27-8
  • Leigh Bowery, Violette Editions, London, (1998), ISBN 978-1-900828-04-8


Partial videography

  • Hail the New Puritan (1985–6), Charles Atlas
  • Generations of Love (1990), Baillie Walsh for Boy George
  • Teach (1992), Charles Atlas
  • A Smashing Night Out (1994), Matthew Glamorre
  • Death in Vegas (1994), Mark Hasler
  • Performance at Fort Asperen (1994)
  • Flour (single screen version) (1995), Angus Cook
  • U2: Popmart - Live from Mexico City (1997), Dancer during 'Lemon Mix'
  • Read Only Memory (estratto) (1998), John Maybury


  1. 1.0 1.1 Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  2. Parker, Ian (26 February 1995). "A Bizarre Body of Work". The Independent.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Romano, Tricia (1 December 2009). "How to Become a Tranimal". BlackBook. Retrieved 8 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Clifton, Jamie (26 June 2012). "Why Be a Tranny When You Can Be a Tranimal?". Vice. Retrieved 23 April 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Episode Guide: Series One: Official: Episode Three". Spaced Out.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. http://www.channel4.com/programmes/noel-fieldings-luxury-comedy/profiles/all/fantasy-block

Further reading


External links