On the sins of David Bowie

“David Bowie had sex with a 13 year old.” Should I be resisting the urge to comment this on everyone’s Facebook posts idolizing the guy?


Yes, you should be resisting the urge. Mostly because you don’t seem to have your facts straight, but also because it’s a nuanced situation.

First of all, Lori Maddox by her own admission was 15 when she had sex with David Bowie, not 13. You can call it splitting hairs, but I think that’s a significant difference. At 15, Lori did not look or act like a child. She looked and acted like a fully developed woman. Obviously, she wasn’t, but that’s where things get sticky.

Secondly, David Bowie was not predatory or coercive. By all accounts, she wanted to have sex with him. Lori Maddox was a teenager who wanted to fuck rock stars, and by golly, that’s what she did — for many years, and with many rock stars. That’s fine. Good for her, but again, things get sticky when we get into the nuances of teenage sexual agency.

That’s the real question here. Can a 15 year old consent to have sex? It’s a trickier question than you might think, both morally and legally. Consider Jerry Lee Lewis. He’s a rock star who married his 13 year old cousin. It was controversial at the time, but perfectly legal. The age of consent has varied wildly over the years, and I’m not suggesting that it should ever be as low as 13, but my point is that there’s a lot of grey area when it comes to the morality and legality of teenage sexual agency. Speaking personally, I had plenty of friends who lost their virginity by age 15, and they were ready to lose it. I personally believe that some 15 year olds are both mentally and physically developed enough to consent to sex. Then again, many aren’t, and thus age of consent laws typically are set to at least 17, and that’s a good thing.

So, was Lori Maddox a victim? She certainly doesn’t think so, and personally, I don’t think she was either. At age 15, I think she was mentally and physically developed enough to have consented to sex. She was definitely underage, so there are still statutory issues to consider, but in her situation, I don’t think she was raped in the sense that she wasn’t able to consent to having sex. Not with David Bowie. Not with Jimmy Page. Not with Mick Jagger. She knew damn well what she was doing, and I’m okay with that. All of this comes down to consent. Was Lori able to give consent, and did she give consent freely? If so, I have a hard time calling David Bowie a rapist or a molester.

That being said, if I were to learn that she had been drugged or pressured or coerced into sexual acts by any of those men (as was the case with Roman Polanski and 13 year old Samantha Geimer, or Woody Allen and his 7 year old adopted daughter), I would instantly and forever have a completely different opinion of the situation, but by all accounts, Lori was a legendary groupie who enjoyed the hell out of herself at a young age. Again, good for her. I feel like I have to give her the benefit of the doubt. She says it was a positive experience, and I have to credit her with the sexual agency that she herself claims (now as an adult) to have had.

I realize how controversial this kind of thing is, and I freely admit that I may not have all the facts straight either. I’m not excusing David Bowie (who was in his early 20s at the time) from having sex with a teenager who was under the legal age of consent, but I also think it’s a stretch for people to call him a rapist, and it’s ridiculous for people to call him a pedophile.

Again, so much grey area, and let’s not forget that we’re also talking about early 1970’s glam rock hedonism and debauchery of such epic magnitude that it’s really unfathomable by today’s standards. That shit was messy, and whatever David Bowie’s sins may have been, the man was also a visionary artist and positive cultural force who spent half a century creating incredible music and making huge strides towards public acceptance of LGBT and gender queer identities.

That shit was important, more important than anything you or I will ever do, so maybe you should resist the urge to make snipey Facebook comments to people who are genuinely feeling his loss.


154 thoughts on “On the sins of David Bowie

  1. I really appreciate your thoughts on this. It’s a challenge for me to enjoy certain music, films, writing or other art forms when I find out about stuff like this. There are definitely grey areas and degrees of culpability as far as violating some spectrum of morality. I didn’t understand how certain scenarios weren’t exactly analogous. It’s really complicated. It’s especially complicated if someone was publicly awesome. I felt annoyed with Hunter S. Thompson too after I read his son’s memoir about his childhood. Damnit.

  2. Johnny Chicago says:

    So, how about Polanski?

    Are there any of his movies that make up for drugging and fucking a kid? Especially the ones he made while he should have been rotting in a prison cell? Or Woody Allen? (who is quite a miserable clarinet player, but seems to do well in movies)

    Honest question. I prefer not to know much about the personal life of ‘my’ artists, since I want to appreciate them for their work. But sometimes I wonder…

    • PolicyChick says:

      Here again, is the conversation about drawing a line between an artist’s work and the artist himself. Does the work so transcend the artist’s horrid impact on individuals, and take us to a higher level, as to allow us as a people, to forgive his personal transgressions?

      As to Roman Polanski – in my mind, that situation is a completely different beast. He was convicted (CONVICTED!) of statutory rape of a minor. He left the jurisdiction before sentencing and has a led a very easy posh life for the past I-don’t-know-how-long in Europe. He has never paid for the crime he was convicted of. This is a cruel, coward of a man who deserves no respect, no matter his work – again, in my opinion.

      PS Heard Woody Allen’s clarinet playing when I lived in Manhattan. It is, in fact, pretty miserable.

    • Perspectivator says:

      No. Nobodies great art, or science will ever compensate or make up for their evil. They are separate things. The same scientist who invented poison gas also invented fertilizer! Our world could not sustain the agriculture it has without fertilizer.

      When a celebrity lets you down, your opinion of them shouldn’t be guided by their contribution. There is no such thing as justice that is more or less deserved. Justice is always deserved in exactly the proportion it should be delivered. Our justice system however, has a real problem executing that ideal.

      I totally get what you’re saying, now that you know about Polanski you can’t really watch the films. Heaven forbid one single cent enable him to live a better life. I understand. But until you knew that, the work was fine.

      I’m not going to watch his films if I have to pay for them. They’re great work but he shouldn’t profit from his escape.

    • Joe nobody says:

      Polanski’s case is not as black and white as many think. Her mother drove her to Polanski’s house, for a start. Polanski was not mentally well, with his wife recently and savagely murdered. My best reading of the case is that she thought that by coming on to him, she might get a part. In the end, I do not know how far it actually went. Although yes, there was champagne and nudity. So its pretty much a mess – its not a Bill Cosby thing. Regarding his conviction – he was told that if he admitted to a lesser charge, it would all go away. Then some do-gooders got involved, and his make-it-go-away confession was used against him to try and lock him up, at which point he fled. The question is – did he confess the truth? Or did he confess to something he did not do, to avoid going through the mess of a trial? The documentary I watched was not clear on that. So ultimately, only the girl and Polanski really know what went on, who was the instigator, and who was the victim. In the end, Polanski was pretty much punished enough – the girl was certainly willing to go over to his place, where her mother left the two of them alone. So violent rape it was not. He was pretty much exiled for life. I guess the question is, what would you do if your wife had been brutally murdered, and a teenage girl started coming on to you and you were maybe drunk? Personally, I think I’d have to be in that situation to know. Remember also that the times weren’t what they are now. So for me, I feel sorry for both of them.

    • E says:

      This is the article she wrote. It pretty clearly depicts her as 15, and she also seems to paint the situation as largely positive- she says she was really attracted to him and doesn’t suggest in any way that he pressured her. Hell, I was older than her when I lost my virginity and I can’t say I feel as positively about the whole thing.

      While it’s not as simple as this, I think the best metric for these situation is to default to the alleged victim and don’t deny them the right to self-determination in terms of their own experiences. The laws exist to prevent teenagers from present or future harm, so the first question should be whether the teenager actually was harmed. Lori seems to have enjoyed herself and surely her opinion of the situation should be respected.

      Also, not that this excuses anything, but if you consider the kind of context this was in – the glam rock hedonism Coke speaks of – Bowie definitely was not the worst offender. If you want to get mad, get mad at Iggy Pop. That guy dated an 11 year old and openly admitted to sleeping with Sable Starr when she was 13 (it’s in one of his songs)

  3. Mona says:

    By her own admission she was THIRTEEN when she lost her virginity to Bowie and 14 when she was with Jimmy Page. These accounts are corroborated by others.

    As for her “not acting or looking like a child” – she was a child, and every one of those rockstars knew it. They knowingly and willingly slept with a child who cannot consent. Also, you’ve seen the photos of her with those rock stars, she looks like their little sister on her way to the roller disco.

    Your blog post basically excuses men who sleep with or want to sleep with minors, and places the blame for their perversion on the child.

  4. Mel says:

    After reading this earlier today I had a little look around the internet and came across this article:

    Bowie faced rape allegations many years ago, and the charges were dropped. There are too many examples of men in power taking advantage of/raping young women/girls/children. However I like to hope that the justice system isn’t always flawed, and also that not everyone accused of something is immediately guilty.

    Who knows what happened. I’m personally not surprised that there’s a lot of shit being stirred around his past given the lifestyle of the time, and I wouldn’t be surprised if something came to light. Nothing about male celebrities really surprises me anymore.

    That said, I’m still mourning the loss of a music great, an artist whose work I felt a great connection with, and a human being.

  5. PolicyChick says:

    Well, I have three things to add – very broad, but worth thinking on.

    First, we do not have a judicial system. We have a legal system. We set semi-arbitrary levels of consent and/or responsibility because we have to set them somewhere. Whether those levels are fair or applicable to a specific case is, often, up to a jury to determine facts, and a judge to apply the law.

    Second, in regard to artists such as Woody Allen – many people do not draw a line (or even recognize one) between the value to society of an artist’s work, and the integrous worth of the individual artist.

    Finally, that avatar doesn’t look a thing like me. I am not purple, square-headed or snaggle-toothed. I am a little grumpy tho.

  6. Kelsey says:

    He is David Bowie. You can like his music while recognizing that he raped that girl. I can’t believe you are defending his behavior. I was a loyal reader, even when I didn’t agree with your sentiments. But this right here? Coquette you should be ashamed of yourself. How many times has a victim said it was a “pleasurable” experience? I’m sure Kylie Jenner does not feel like a victim at all but that didn’t stop people from coming at Tyga. Know why? Because a rapist is a rapist and I’m grateful that people are bringing these situations to light and villifying these men and women like they should be.

    You said a 15 year old didn’t look like a 15 year old so it’s ok. That’s……so heartbreaking.

    Come on, plz tell me your account was hacked.

    • The Coquette says:

      1. I told you this post would be controversial.

      2. I did not say “a 15 year old didn’t look like a 15 year old so it’s ok.” I would never say that. Did you completely miss the part about the morality and legality of teenage sexual agency? The ability to consent has nothing to do with how a person looks. It has to do with mental and physical capacity.

      3. Although I’m not current on my Kardashian lore, as I recall, people came at Tyga for domestic violence before anything having to do with Kylie’s age.

      4. You don’t get to be the arbiter of someone else’s victimhood.

      5. I clearly said that there were still statutory issues to consider, and that I was not excusing David Bowie for his actions.

      6. Nuance, Kelsey. Nuance. Shades of fucking grey. I don’t vilify David Bowie like I vilify Roman Polanski for a reason, and it has nothing to do with either man’s artistic merits.

      7. Your reaction to this post is perfectly valid, but until I learn new information that would change the circumstances of this situation as I currently understand it, I stand by what I said.

      • Ancient Sumerian says:

        Coquette claims: “I did not say ‘a 15 year old didn’t look like a 15 year old so it’s ok.’ I would never say that…The ability to consent has nothing to do with how a person looks. It has to do with mental and physical capacity.”

        Coquette, you said EXACTLY that when you stated (in your second paragraph), “At 15, Lori did not look or act like a child. She looked and acted like a fully developed woman.”

        You can’t have it both ways. If this whole issue has “nothing to do with how she looks” then why did you tell us that she didn’t “look…like a child” but that she “looked…like a fully developed woman”? You were absolutely arguing that the fact that she LOOKED older than 15 makes this situation more “nuanced” (your word in the immediately previous paragraph).

        • The Coquette says:

          Um, no. If you bring a valid point to the table, I’m happy to discuss it with you, but I’m not going to teach you basic reading comprehension.

          • Ancient Sumerian says:

            You explicitly said that this (statutory rape – that is, rape) is “a nuanced situation” in part because the victim “looked…like a fully developed woman.”

            That’s not a reading comprehension issue on my part. That’s precisely the argument you made, in precisely the words you used.

            If, as you say, the “ability to consent has nothing to do with how a person looks” then what was your argument – detailed above – actually about? What nuance were you discussing, precisely – that is relevant to your post, but totally irrelevant to consent? How is this nuance relevant to your overall point?

          • Brynn says:

            I’m gonna take a guess and say it’s about distinguishing what, precisely, David Bowie did wrong. He abused a child. Which shouldn’t necessarily be used to say David Bowie was a pedophile or an awful person. He did a disgusting thing, and like too many men, he got away with it. Whether you want to write him off for that is personal, which is why the person asking the question should probably refrain from writing that all over people’s statuses as they grieved for him. Whether he should have been punished for that is a separate issue, to which the answer is an unequivocal yes. Yes, he should have. Justice and forgiveness are not to be conflated: forgiveness is personal.

          • tine says:

            Coquette, I know your whole schtick is that you have the moral high ground, but sometimes it’s ok to admit that you got it wrong. If you like Bowie, fine, like Bowie. But don’t try to defend a grown ass man sleeping with a child. If we can collectively drag Tyga for sleeping with a 17 year old (his controversy was never about DV so idk where you got that), then we can problematize Bowie. I like the music and the make up and the outfits and cultural influence too, but let’s not act like this man is above critique. Let’s not act like a 15 year old wanting to be seen as more mature excuses a grown ass man fucking her. I was a horny 15 year old too, and my geometry teacher in high school was a year out of college and so fucking hot. but had he fucked me, even if i flirted with him, he would be in the wrong. Period. Let’s not split frog hairs because your fav is the one up for debate.

          • Jess Esq. says:

            A teacher exerts a certain influence over a student. I do see your point, but I don’t think that is a fair comparison to the Bowie situation

          • Helix says:

            An adult rockstar is definitely not on an equal level with a 15 year old groupie either, though. Hell, that’s almost more uneven than a student and a teacher; at least the teacher has immediate superiors to answer to who can intervene in a situation.

          • compagno says:

            How I wish I could tell my students: “I’m not going to teach you basic reading comprehension.”

          • Joey_33 says:

            Yes – the quoted sentence was directed to the girls’ sexual agency, not to excusing Bowie’s actions. He committed statutory rape, full-stop. The issue is not whether that occurred, but how or whether that information should change our view of him, essentially whether or how much to condemn him. In other words, we’re assessing his moral guilt, not his legal culpability.

            In considering the former, it’s legitimate to consider those characteristics. The statutory age of consent is a general bright-line prohibition that does not tell us how morally wrong we should consider each violation of it. It’s like the blood alcohol level for drunk driving; every violation of it is drunk driving, but not every particular violation is morally heinous, and certainly not equally so.

            It’s definitely a tricky position not consistent with the dominant conventional wisdom today, that “rape is rape” and all sex without legal consent should be considered equally heinous (and there are legitimate reasons for that position in the context of our society – I don’t mean to discount them). However, for reasons illustrated by this case, I think Coquette’s position is correct.

  7. JC says:

    Perfect response, Coq. This precisely expresses what I think about the situation. Bowie was not a predator, not a rapist, and Lori Maddox lived out the dream of many young girls. I think that behavior would not fly so easily today, but it was pretty typical of the time. If she’d been coerced in any way, I’d have a totally different attitude, but there’s not a shred of evidence to support that viewpoint.

    • JC says:

      I would like to add that I lost my virginity at age 15 to my boyfriend, who was 20 at the time. My father knew the boyfriend, had no problems with us dating, etc. I have never even once felt like I was a victim, simply a young woman whose betrothed fell slightly on the wrong side of the age of consent dividing line.

    • Just a person says:

      Bowie may *not* have been a predator. But a 20-something having sex with a 15-year old was actually statutory rape (at the time, in the place). Her feelings have no bearings on whether or not his actions meet that particular legal definition.

      Your boyfriend was probably technically a rapist, too (depending on when and where you lost your virginity) – even if you don’t feel like a victim. Your feelings, likewise, have no bearing on his legal status.

      Bowie, by the legal definition, committed rape. To argue otherwise is rape apology. Please stop.

      • WhoAmI says:

        coquette’s post was exactly not about the legal description of Bowie’s exactions but I mean, sure, whatever, do your thing

      • JC says:

        Yes, technically my ex broke the law. So do lots of guys who turn 18 when there are no “Romeo and Juliet” allowances in place. I don’t think you have the right to call my ex a rapist. Statutory rape and rape are in no way the same crime.

        Beyond that, as far as crimes go, Bowie having mountains of cocaine about would have gotten him more jail time than consensual sex with a minor under the laws of either era, so why aren’t we obsessing about that?

        How about the fact that Lori Maddox never mentioned David Bowie for many, many years and only talked about her relationship with Jimmy Page? I am not sure I believe her about Bowie, and even if the story is true, I do not care. If Bowie were someone who diddled a bunch of little girls, there would have been a lot of me-too-ing by now.

      • Barnjette says:

        You, conversely, are robbing consenting humans of their agency and replacing that agency with that of faceless laws arbitrated by governments. You managed to dehumanize everyone in the situation! Well done, fascist.

        • Leah says:

          LOL, well said! If there’s anything I hate it’s rote, simple-minded generalizations, rather than attention to the nuances and complexities of real life. It’s like using the reasoning capacity of a four year old. I don’t care what the legal statutes are, its complete nonsense to compare a lusty groupie throwing herself at Bowie, who then consents to have sex with her, to the genuine rape of the 13 year old that was committed by Roman Polanski (for example).

          • Joe nobody says:

            “During a television interview on 10 March 2011, Geimer blamed the media, reporters, the court, and the judge for having caused “way more damage to me and my family than anything Roman Polanski has ever done””

            In 2008, the documentary film by Marina Zenovich, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, was released in Europe and the United States where it won numerous awards.[156] The film focuses on the judge in the case and the possible reasons why he changed his mind. It includes interviews with people involved in the case, including the victim, Geimer, and the prosecutor, Roger Gunson. Geimer said that the judge “didn’t care what happened” to her or Polanski, but “was orchestrating some little show”,[129] while Gunson added, “I’m not surprised that Polanski left under those circumstances, … it was going to be a real circus.”[129][120]

            Former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney David Wells, whose statements were the most damning against Polanski, and who said he advised the judge to imprison Polanski, admitted that he lied about those statements, and said that to the press to “play up” his own role.[157][158]

      • Veronika says:

        To say that because he committed rape by legal definition but defending him morally for that is rape apology is absurd.

        Does that mean that all the times someone has not been raped according to the law, but morally speaking they are a victim and their rapist is a rapist, that simply because it didn’t fall foul of the law that you can defend them?

        You don’t get it both ways.

    • Angela says:

      Actually, Maddox said that her original intention was to let her friend fuck Bowie, while she hung out.

      Then Bowie chose her to fuck. She was alone, without adult supervision with a grown man and a high school age friend. But her original intention was to “hang out.” She did not go to Bowie’s house with the intention of sleeping with him. He brought up the idea, and in that way, it was coercion. Adults should not bring up the idea of sleeping with a child. Maybe she did feel pressure in some way, she did not have guidance or support by her parents. But it was not her original intention to sleep with the man. And that is an important fact.

  8. Monica says:

    I’m reminded of that scene in 12 Years a Slave when Solomon said their slave master was a good man “under the circumstances” and Adepero Oduye’s character replies, “Under the circumstances, he’s a slaver.” The context of the era only excuses so much.

    A teenage girl’s consent and sexual agency is fine, but that doesn’t make the 20-something year old man who participated any less of a creep. Why the need to grasp for explanations and excuses? No one will judge you just because you still wanna bump “Let’s Dance.” He did something gross. It doesn’t have to define him or the entirety of his career, but I don’t think it needs to be swept under a rug either.

    “At 15, Lori did not look or act like a child. She looked and acted like a fully developed woman.” Is this not what misogynists say to justify the sexualization of girls who’ve developed earlier than others? Ok, Coquette, ok.

    • The Coquette says:

      It sounds like we’re agreeing on pretty much everything. You just don’t like the fact that I defended a 15 year old’s claim to her own sexual agency. That’s perfectly understandable. It’s a very fine line. I would point out that a man sexualizing a 15 year old girl is different than the 15 year old girl sexualizing herself. I’m on the girl’s side, not the man’s. She gets to sexualize herself if she’s ready and she wants to. The man doesn’t. (Again, this is all about nuance.)

      • Brynn says:

        You probably rock with kids, although I can imagine you not liking them much. My dad had this amazing skill where he can see a kid as another person, not just a kid. He also understands their limitations and sphere of reference. As a result, kids love him cause he talks to them like people, treats them like people. And people in general trust him cause he’s a damn good man, because he understands limits.

        I think as someone ages, they never really stop being kids, they just slide down a hundred different spectrums while expectations and responsibilities crawl under their skin. We put lines down because it’s pragmatic, because list people need black and white rules, not because it’s accurate. I’ve met a small handful of girls who I don’t think were ready for sex, weren’t ready for consent at 19, 20, or even later, but who’s going to protect them? Did they need protecting? I don’t know, some of them got hurt, badly.

        Was any wrongdoing done in those cases? I believe so. But systems let people down, and you have to hurt to learn. I think we drew the lines in a pretty responsible place, however. And from the story she told, I think Bowie did them both wrong. Regardless, if I had an opportunity to befriend Bowie, I doubt that detail from the past would make a difference to me. But someone like Iggy? His past makes a difference to me.

        Morality is neither universal nor completely relative. It’s messy. We’ve got to follow some rules, and we’ve got to break some. We have to accept consequences, and we have to be damned thankful for the consequences we’ve skirted. We have to follow our hearts, and we have to give other people an opportunity to follow theirs. We’re all gonna get hurt, but as long as that pain gives the victim more room to grow than time spent crippled, we’re doing okay. We share damn near everything, regardless of the boundaries of ego and individuality, our humanity bonds us all, good and bad.

        I, for one, wish I could live to see the day that some precocious punk kid calls us all barbarians for the crimes committed in our time. They won’t be wrong. They won’t be correct, either. Just young.

        • WilhelminaMildew says:

          I also have met some girls that I don’t think were ready for sex or consent at 19 or 20 (or older.) I also know women in their 30s who are still immature when it comes to men and dating, or can’t tell a from a predator til it bites them in the ass.
          I’ve also met some who at 14 & 15 were not only sexually active but more mature and sophisticated than many women I knew that were my own age (early 20s.) And they generally dated guys that were a few years older because they could talk to them like adults. I still know some of them, and they are some of the more successful and well adjusted women that I know. And none of them ever considered themselves coerced, or victims.
          Anecdotal, I know, but I kind of feel that the agency they had even at that age is a big part of what made them able to make satisfying lives for themselves as adults.

      • Monica says:

        Ugh, I feel like we’re all floating in the middle of a living “Diary of a Teenage Girl” thinkpiece.

        I don’t really get why you assume I have a problem with the fact that you defended her choice to sleep with him or come into her sexuality, specifically when I said I thought that was fine. At the end of the day she lost her virginity to a rock star and he had sex with a teenager. It is what it is. For me, nothing, especially the fact that she “looked and acted like a fully developed woman,” can change that. Of course, nothing can change his impact either.

        I definitely agree that one shouldn’t comment on every single “David Bowie changed my life” post with disgust. Make your own status update/post/tweet if you feel so compelled.

    • WhoAmI says:

      “Age is just a number” is a very creepy phrase, but very relevant when it comes to age of consent. The girl would have been legal in several other countries (namely half of Europe, Japan, China, and most of South America).

      The only two things that matter in regard to morality are a) her consent and b) the relative age gap. She herself claims she was able to consent, and consenting. Bowie was in his early twenties tho, so that’s still extra creepy on his part. But that’s about it.

    • Angela says:

      Exactly. Coquette did mention the girl’s appearance and in a refutation of that fact simply denied its relevance. How is that possible?

  9. rollertrain says:

    This is highly inappropriate, but I would have done just about anything to fuck Bowie when I was 15. Girls are horny creatures as well as rockstars.

  10. Anon says:

    Here’s the thing – I’m not convinced Lori’s account is entirely true. The story about Bowie + the underage LA groupies originally surfaced many years ago when Lori’s friend, Sabel Starr, gave an account where she claimed to have had sex with Bowie + she said that Lori was there and didn’t take part.

    Over the years Lori talked about her time with Jimmy Page but never Bowie. Until she became involved in Pamela Des Barres’ book about groupies, Let’s Spend the Night Together. Sabel had refused to take part and now Lori told the Bowie tale but with their places reversed so she was the one who got to have sex with Bowie while Sabel was left sulking in the corner. At the time there was a messageboard for Star magazine and I remember someone posting who’d been around at the time/friends with Lori + Sabel and helped Pamela with her book. She’d actually ended up leaving the project in disgust + very strongly stated that the Bowie story Lori told was made up.

    • The Coquette says:

      That’s fucking fascinating. I wish there was a based-on-true-events version of “Almost Famous” that was told from the perspective of the groupies. If done right, that would be an amazing movie.

    • Maryann Gayhey says:

      Yep, all this a load of bullshit.

      People really need to find actual evidence before crucifying someone over a lie. You all look like fools. All of you. Grow up.

  11. s says:

    Coquette –

    I have loved so much of your writing, and I have to admit I dislike your response, in particular to the last paragraph, where you suggest that people should not make “snipey” comments when people are really mourning his loss. I, for one, can probably trace everything good in my life to David Bowie’s music, in some way. I can’t even describe how important it is to me. And, thus, when I heard he died – I tried very, very hard to not go online, but my reason was because I didn’t want the people *defending* him ruining my mourning. I think it’s important to remember that this is tough for Bowie fans who also are people who were abused or coerced by older men – but who also know that they “consented” or even pursued this relationships to some extent.

    And I’m not talking about Maddox. But it is not unbelievable to me that an adult who would knowingly fuck a teenager is also an adult who would have no qualms coercing someone or drugging someone or raping someone and being buddies with people who would do so, and occasionally having a laugh about it. And who cares if it was the 70s. I think that “debauchery” probably included a lot of rape, which to me is just the same kind of patriarchal violence I see everywhere else.

    As kind of an aside, I want to say that I’ve known a lot of teenage fangirls who believe themselves to be very mature. And don’t get me started on my thoughts about a fucking adult who would be into that. I don’t get your point about the fact that some young teens are ready for sex. I agree with that, but what does that have to do with adults?

    So the thing is, why preference people who want to mourn a hero, and who are taking that very hard, over people who are reacting emotionally to his defense, and are taking that very hard – why even assume they are separate people? I myself have never before wished the internet didn’t exist as much as I did yesterday. I wish I never knew. But…

    • GOAT says:

      There is a difference between you working through your conflicting emotions and some thick-headed scab callously policing others’ grieving, especially on an idiotic a site as Facebook. Leaving that kind of comment would indeed be undeniably petty. It’s an act of immaturity and a cry for attention.

      You can’t convict others of crimes they didn’t commit. Lori Maddox states that she believed herself to be capable of giving consent and did. Given that, do you really think, if David Bowie truly did have sex with her, that’s the same thing as him drugging and raping her?

      Your lofty tone about “teenage fangirls who believe themselves to be mature” leads me to think you don’t believe teenagers to be capable of sexual agency, so Lori Maddox stating she gave consent, even as an adult, means nothing to you. Not only that, being capable of giving consent is not the same thing as being mature (a degree of maturity may be required to consent to sex, but legal consent is based on age- this argument doesn’t benefit from you confusing the two). If I’m honest, the thought of people who want to make teenagers’ decisions for them is more troubling to me than “fucking adults who would be into [teenage fangirls]”.

      I agree with you in thinking “1970s glam rock hedonism and debauchery” wouldn’t excuse rape, abuse, or coercion, but as far as we know with the evidence we have, there was no rape, abuse, or coercion. You don’t get to make someone out to be a victim just because and you don’t get to make someone out to be a criminal just because, especially when the facts are this elusive.

      • s says:

        When did I say that I didn’t think teenagers had sexual agency? I’m pretty aware that teenagers have sex, and I’m okay with that. When did I say I believe adults should be making teenagers’ decisions for them? I said adults shouldn’t be *fucking* teenagers. Call my feeling about teens “lofty” if you’d like, but I’m pretty cool and I’ve been very aware of the power that trait grants me in a room of teenagers. And it never occurred to me it would be fun to invite them to party.

        The point of my internet blog comment was not to “convict” anyone. My primary point was that I strongly disliked Coquette’s response because it characterized people who are upset by the idolization of Bowie as “non-nuanced” and disrespectful (and because it assumed these people were not also deeply moved by Bowie’s music). Even the question she initially responded to wasn’t a real question; it itself, I believe, was an attempt to characterize these commenters as immature and hysterical. And I’m not so impressed with her own characterization of her comments as “controversial,” considering that in actual courts of law all sorts of “grey areas” (she’s old for her age, she seduced him, etc.) are used to let rapists off the hook. The responses Coquette is getting – and she’s not getting so many angry responses in these comments, really – are because this is a place where victims of abuse and rape have come to seek affirmation, not because she said anything that defies a status quo.

        • Plagarism says:

          Coquette has always drawn a line between the artist and his art. The situation is nuanced and this post is controversial. Admitting there are grey areas is not the same thing as victim-blaming. In this case, context is important to consider. Our notions of morality don’t exist in a vacuum.

          As an actual victim of abuse, I refute your notion that victims come here to be “seek affirmation”. I don’t need anyone to baby me, and I strongly agree with Coquette on this matter.

  12. LolaCola says:

    The 70’s were a very different time. There were a lot of movies that sexualized young girls (Little Foxes, The Little Girl Who Lived Down The Lane, Taxi Driver, Violet, etc). It was also more socially acceptable at the time for a young man to sleep with young teenaged girls than it would be for him to sleep with African American women. I am not excusing the actions of anyone, but it was…a different time.

    • Minou says:

      I have not gone through the entire comment thread but I agree with you, Lolacola.
      I was born and raised in LA and am slightly older than Lori Maddox. While my parents were very vigilant and over protective of me, I did still find myself in an occasional situation with friends, up in Laurel Canyon or on the Strip, where older boys or young men wanted to get sexual. I was very pretty, long haired, tall, thin and wore mini-mini skirts—- it was no wonder that I got that attention (though I was straight-laced, actually).

      I remember a friend of mine and I going to Century City, to the Plaza Hotel, and meeting Greg Allman there. He made small talk and invited us to come back the next day to his hotel suite (and told me over the phone he also hoped we could “stash” their drugs for them for awhile). I didn’t do drugs at all, and was completely inexperienced sexually, and did not go, even though there was the promise of limos to their concert, after-parties, etc.

      Though my parents were “liberal”, my father was actually quite conservative so all of this was entirely out of the question. Nonetheless I was THRILLED by the prospect of hanging with rock stars. Rock stars with young teenage girls were very commonplace during the late 1960s and 1970s. It wasn’t what I did, but I never regarded a teenager with a 20-something rocker to be anything but just “wild and free”. Unless the girls were drugged, they did not seem coerced, or that the men were pedophiles. It was the age of “free love”, VERY different than now. Many of the groupie girls then came from divorced families, or where there was trouble at home; not enough supervision from parents.

      I became a mother on the late side, and have teenaged girls (14). They know that it is not okay for peers or older boys/men/girls to make sexual overtures. They know they are not mature enough to handle sexuality yet.

    • Joey_33 says:

      Have you seen the movie Gigi, from 1958? Maurice Chevalier has a song in it called “Thank Heaven for Little Girls.” I almost choked the first time I heard it; if it were made today, the Internet would melt.

      And that’s probably a good thing – a lot of “little girls” were terribly exploited back in the day, with no consequences for their perpetrators, because that was how things were – but the legal protections we’ve erected to prevent that exploitation should not be confused the moral rules we use to judge each particular situation.

  13. bathtubgin says:

    This discussion is getting contentious so I thought maybe some of you would like to laugh a little. I do wish the spotlight would not just be on the happy go-lucky groupies but the ones who were exploited/discarded, however here’s a little documentary portraying the bubbly optimistic fairy version of the penny lane’s of yesteryear I can personally guarantee they are not representative of the majority. They are just the most celebrated.

  14. JC says:

    Nuanced? Yeah, I’m sure Jared the Subway guy would like to use that argument, wouldn’t he?

    It’s fine to honor Bowie as a great pop-music artist, and he certainly was, but let the idolizing stop there. Behind the glitter and the chameleon persona was a man who got away with something that would land other men in prison, for decades, and likely make them the recipients of other inmates’ “nuanced” desires.

    So, just sit back, relax, and listen to the Tin Machine’s song “Shopping for Girls.” The irony and hypocrisy are pretty blatant, not nuanced at all.

    • Savage Juliette says:

      I’m with Coquette: it’s probably pointless to try to teach reading comprehension to a troll. That said, isn’t it ironic that you can call out unintended irony in a blog post but not in an overtly ironic sing lyric? About Shopping for Girls:
      the album track “Shopping for Girls,”[4] a song about child prostitution in Thailand.[3] Bowie said of the track:

      That song actually came out of an investigative magazine article that Reeves’ wife wrote on child prostitution around the world. And one of the places she went to was Thailand. Reeves had the rather unsavory job of hiring the children and then getting them out of the brothels to Sara, who could then interview them. We were just talking about those experiences one night. And I’ve also been in Thailand and witnessed the same kind of thing. The actual approach of how to write the song was quite devastating. ‘Cause it was so easy to slip into sensationalism. I tried all kinds of ways of approaching it . . . the moral point of view . . .and I just ended up doing it straight narrative. That seems to make it stronger than any other approach.[5]

      I would also point to the lyrics on The Lodger, for Repetition:
      Well Johnny is a man
      And he’s bigger than her
      I guess the bruises won’t show
      If she wears long sleeves
      But the space in her eyes shows through

      If you’re utterly unable to detect irony, I guess that would be an endorsement of domestic violence, just as Shopping for Girls is a celebration of child prostitution and sex tourism.

      • JC says:

        The irony I’m speaking of is the juxtaposition of “sing” lyrics (as you call them) meant to decry the exploitation of children, and the lyrics’ author, who committed statutory rape. But I suppose it’s pointless to try to teach reading comprehension to a “savage.” Fun fact: the album to which you refer is titled “Lodger,” not “The Lodger,” as any real Bowie fan would know.

        • WilhelminaMildew says:

          “As any real Bowie fan would know”

          Holy shit, did you actually just *say that*? After your original post vilifying Bowie? Maybe you were trying to be humorous with that bit of music snobbery but it just makes you look like an even bigger fool.

    • Strangely Rational says:

      Statutory rape of a 15-year-old who insists that she was not coerced does not land any man in prison for decades.

      That plus your comparison to someone like Jared makes it pretty blatant that you’re delusional.

    • Snagglepuss says:

      The main problem with your assessment is that not even the best lawyer money can buy could convincingly argue that ANYONE would EVER want to fuck Jared, never mind a teenager.

    • Strangely Rational says:

      My sister started having sex with a 20-year-old about a month before she turned 16. Was she raped for a month and then suddenly on her birthday not-raped? For the same act, with the same level of maturity and the same emotional impact, mere days apart?

      I don’t believe so. Yes, according strictly to the law, it was statutory rape. But there’s no magic line that gets drawn at age 16. State laws vary, so if I’m a 17-year-old having sex in one state, and then travel with my boyfriend to a state where the age of consent is 18, does that mean I’m being raped while I’m in that state? Legally yes, but does location have any bearing on morality?

      Laws are often arbitrary and inconsistent. For example, in my state, it’s a felony to grow a marijuana plant, but it would be perfectly fine in other states. Also worth mentioning – a DUI is a misdemeanor. So if you’re looking strictly at the law, growing a plant in your closet is more dangerous to society than driving drunk.

      Don’t confuse legality with morality. The two aren’t as strongly connected as a lot of people seem to believe.

      • Joey_33 says:

        I’m not sure I accept the implication that the statutory rape was not rape, that there is a distinction between legal rape and moral rape. That quickly leads to the apologist position that some rape is not “really” rape, and so perpetrators should be not legally responsible for it. I think Rape is a legally defined term, and we should let it remain that way.

        Of course, my view requires that we distinguish between legal punishment and moral condemnation, and implies that some rapes are less morally worthy of condemnation than other rapes. That’s a hard view to accept – for a lot of totally legitimate reasons illustrated in other comments here – and runs entirely against the currently dominant view that rape = rape. Still, I think it’s the correct one, and keeps the focus on the key issue here (whether this allegation should change our opinion of Bowie, not whether men who do what Bowie did, including him, should be legally punished).

  15. Jel says:

    I would say this view point is extremely damaging. Yes we never speak if someones experience, and yes lori maddox said it was pleasurable. In the same story she also mentioned the words terrified, and that she was just a child. This idea that it’s okay if she didn’t look 15? How many times have adults defended themselves with “they didn’t look underage”. It is despicable that this would be used to defend Bowie. He was a grown man, she was a young girl. Many a young girl fancies older men and would consider sleeping with them pleasurable… Its still does not make it right that Bowie is not held accountable for it. Your views are scary, more so because you actually have people feeding into your notion that underage sex is a grey area. Let’s be clear, an adult sleeping with someone who is by maturity (physically and mentally) and law underage is no grey area. It litterally does not matter how old the child looked.

      • Jel says:

        She does not see herself as a victim. Bowie was still an adult. An adult gave a child a pleasurable sexual experience. Its still abuse. We send people down for this. It is abuse of power at the least and just straight up statutory rape at the worst. We do not tell adults it’s okay to sleep with children and we do not worship adults who do.
        Lori Maddox may look upon it as positive for her.. But she still recognised she was very young and sexualy inexperienced. If this was any other man who wasn’t famous, would it be OK that he pursued a teenager?

        • Agreed. And I think it’s a little dishonest how they describe their time as sunshine and roses when there was a lot of rejection and cruelty too. I’m going to read Pamela’s books to get a better understanding of her perspective though. Ask anyone who was there, Sunset Blvd was really a bunch of teenagers during the early 70’s L.A. was so different then. So different. Less people, hitchhiking was common, people generally felt safer. After the Manson stuff, things did change. Obviously things were steadily changing regardless. It wasn’t so shocking then that teenage girls were doing this. So we’ve come a long way and that’s nice. We barely hear from unhappy groupies, the ones who regretted what they did and felt exploited. And I’d like to know why that is.

          • Jel says:

            I heard someone say we have to redefine how we view the 60s and its revolution because of how much it sexualy exploited. Also none of the groupies seem to have been as young as maddox and sable was. Not all rock stars associated with them though, which just cements for me how much bowie etc knew they were doing wrong.

        • Maryann Gayhey says:

          It’s actually not abuse if a horny girl wants to have sex. Teenagers are horny, some WANT to fuck older people, get over it.

          Also, Bowie never admitted to this.

  16. tonysam says:

    These so-called feminists waiting until Bowie is dead to hurl self-righteous mud at him are all guilty of what is called “presentism.” I hate it because it is little more than a lie to disregard the context of the times during which people lived. Bowie was not a pedophile, and I suggest people stop using that term until they hit the dictionary and know what that means.

    This Maddox apparently bragged about all of her conquests. She was a groupie, one of many thousands, and almost all rock stars, including Bowie, had sex with them. They didn’t sit around and card these women. About the only rock star who was “moral” in the sexual sense was Pat Boone. To try and shame them using modern sensibilities is dishonest.

    Bill Wyman, one-time bassist of the Rolling Stones, shocked the world when he dated and then married (and later divorced) a young woman who was 13 when they met. I believe he was in his fifties at the time. He was still not a pedophile and didn’t go to jail over it.

  17. Bruce says:

    It’s weird so many people are stumbling into this nuanced moral discussion trying to wield brief statements on the legality like a club. Or clinging to an absolutely objective morality as if they’re doing their best impression of Bill O’Reilly’s puckered butthole. They have a right to their opinion, but whose blog do they think they’re following? It’s like the people who got flustered over a post about cocaine.

  18. Tessa says:

    Man, when I was 15, I was doing everything to sneak out of church and schtup 20 something dudes who were certainly not rockstars. I owned that mindset then- and I own it 15 years later.

    I’m with coke on this one. If the 15 year old viewed her sex with a dreamboat superstar a few years older than her as a good thing- who the fuck are we to victimize?

  19. Marie says:

    Anyone care to split hairs on whether its ok to obtain drugs or alcohol for 13 0r 14 or 15 year olds ??? The fact is there are girls and women that are codependent, and they are easy prey to men like this. Its not ok, it is illegal and the parents that sign their 14 year old daughters over to these men should be prosecuted. Stop making excuses, if a 13 year old likes drugs and sex that doesn’t make it ok for 30 year old men to take advantage of them. She was 13, a virgin, and he took advantage of her, along with Page. Shes in interviews saying she was a baby…..the sad part is is this was norm, it does not excuse it. Lori Mattix wasnt a groupie at the time, she was an exploited model stalked by rock stars.

    • It’s true she stated she was “kidnapped” by a manager and delivered to Jimmy Page. Her mother was a very foolish negligent woman. She was a stereotypical stage mom though. Sadly there are many here. They see opportunity where others might see peril. This is a very unfortunate problem that plagues the entertainment and fashion industries.

  20. Cara Ramsey says:

    There are inconsistencies in Lori’s own story.

    Here is a video where Lori recounts everything. She says David Bowie was “before Jimmy” (meaning Jimmy Page). She admits elsewhere she was 14 when with Jimmy Page.

    We cannot assert with certainty that she was 15 when her own recountings are inconsistent like this. (See the “before Jimmy” comment around 11:24 of the video.)

  21. Beargirl says:

    She looks very much like a child to me. In any pictures you see of her posted at that time. A child playing dress up – but clearly with no parental guidance. These men should have packed her up and sent her home.

    • Minou says:

      I posted above, but will reply here as I don’t know where these replies land. I don’t know your age, Beargirl, but did you come from LA in the early 1970s?

      I did. My parents raised me differently than these girls, but this sort of premature sexuality was not uncommon among teenagers who came from homes with little supervision and guidance. It was the end of the 1960s, mores were changing. It was a very wild scene in L.A., and particularly on the Strip and at all the nightclubs.

      Behavior that would upset me today, was very commonplace then. You can blame the male rockers, but everything about the rock industry at the time, and the fashion, and partying, permitted this kind of behavior. Jimmy Page and David Bowie were not perverted anomalies if you consider that all the rockers were doing it.

  22. This is my final comment. It’s a Pamela Des Barres quote. And it’s adorable and hilarious. “I must be one of the most lighthearted people on the planet. I feel like I’ve lived fifteen lifetimes, and I still weigh only 112 pounds! Oh, I’ve been through a lot of unbelievable shit, but at least all the thrills and chills, rock-and-roll heart-bruising, subconscious self-abuse, and co-co-codependence have led directly here, and I am one happy chick. Would you believe I still wake up every day and say, “Yay!!!” When I was a flamboyant, wacky, peace-and-love, rock-and-roll teenager, I wanted to fit it ALL in because I assumed that when I hit my forties, it would be a downhill slide to sitcom heaven. I thought I would be spending a lot of time doing normal-formal things like mending, baking, cheering on my son in the big game, taking my daughter to baton practice, kissing my husband’s ass, reading romance novels while the dough rose, and shedding a simple tear. That’s why I tried to cram every day chock-full of amazing stuff, so I could iron shirts, pack lunches, watch Roseanne, and be content to reflect on the Stuff That American Dreams Are Made Of. I lived my early years so hard and fast, I just figured by this time I would be ready to relax and take it easy. I am delighted to announce that this is not the case.”

  23. alyssa says:

    I must admit that I did not read every single comment on here, so I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned this, but a trend I’ve noticed is the eagerness to pluck out Coke’s comment that “At 15, Lori did not look or act like a child. She looked and acted like a fully developed woman” right out of the entirety of her post. It’s like y’all stopped reading after seeing that line.

    I think the important thing being missed is Lori acting like a fully developed woman has substantially more weight in this controversy than simply looking like a developed woman. She was not a victim in any case. Nor was Bowie a pedophile (please read some actual academic writing on what that entails) or a rapist. I’m not saying he is let off the hook completely; I personally think it’s a little weird having sex with a 15 year old while in your early 20s. But if we are going to accuse someone of something, it has to be as accurate as possible. We owe both parties involved that at the very least.

    Also, please stop trying to compare people involved in controversial matters as this. None of them are the same, and trying to draw parallels often just excludes important information regarding each specific case.

    • hm says:

      Nailed it. It’s ridiculous in particular comparing it to the Fogle case where there was treacherous (and outright admission) of horrific pedophelia. Along with Cosby (a convicted rapist,) and Allen (a gross and outright example of an unapologetic pedophile) it’s making a faulty comparison. There’s a large distinction between a seven year old and a fifteen year old.

      It’s an odd situation which I feel like was relatively unknown prior to his death (actually, in hearing of his death, I recalled an unsourced tumblr post and expected an explosion.)

      It’s anecdotal, but I have a few friends who had sex as minors with dudes in their early 20’s and still don’t feel violated. Two of these people have been raped, and consider themselves victims in the other incidents. Again, anecdotal, but I know of someone who is still with someone they started dating as a 13 who is three years their senior.

      I know I feel somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of a grown man pursuing a 15 year old, but I also don’t really rely on legality as a moral system. I think in broad strokes, it is easy to read a series of succinct posts by well liked tumblr users grabbing a whole lot of notes (like a mantra: Bowie was a rapist, Bowie was a kid fucker […]) and band wagon without looking into it, especially that you are now a rape apologist if you say that perhaps the situation isn’t a black and white issue.

      I don’t know how to feel about it, and I won’t say I’m in mourning, but I will say perhaps it’s a topic I’m broaching with thought.

      • Mharr says:

        I suspect it’s all very simple. David Bowie was a sexually ambiguous weirdo that made them feel uncomfortably horny, but they’re not allowed to criticise that so they desperately want him to have been a good old fashioned bad guy.

  24. em says:

    statutory rape is hardly a grey area and i doubt that in the 70s, especially during bowie’s coke-witchcraft years, that amphetamines or other substances were not a part of the equation. of course, no one was calling bowie a rapist before he died. why can’t we acknowledge the opportunism of the judgement without rationalizing consent?

    • Mharr says:

      If it’s a black area, it’s one with an extremely wide and fuzzy grey border. You don’t need to go back in time or across continents for the age of consent to change, you need only cross a state border.

    • Blah says:

      It wasn’t during the coke-witchcraft period – unless Lori’s told yet another variation on this story. The coke-witchcraft thing was during The Man Who Fell to Earth/Station to Station when Bowie was living in Los Angeles with Slash’s mom.

      Lori claims to have met Bowie during the Ziggy Stardust Tour – there was a show in Santa Monica in the Fall of ’72.

  25. Minou says:

    If you didn’t live this era, and in Los Angeles, it would be impossible to understand what was considered “acceptable” behavior by young men towards underage teens.
    I was routinely preyed on in my teens, from wolf whistles by construction guys, to men who’d honk their horns at me, to being subtly harassed at my first high school jobs. Women (and teen girls) would have no idea they were being harassed or coerced or put in situations that took advantage of them, because the consciousness was not there on the part of either the females, or the males.

  26. KK says:

    I am okay with Coquette’s answer.
    Also I lost my virginity with 15 to an older guy, consensually, willingly and it was all okay. Thinking back from the perspective of a 30 y/o, 15 sounds incredibly young. But then, most of my classmates lost their virginity between 14 and 17.

    • WilhelminaMildew says:

      I when I was 15 I had a number of sexually active friends, who were doing it consensually and willingly, sometimes with older guys. I wasn’t, but I knew more about sex and sexuality than most adults do even now (and this was before the Internet, I was just extremely well read) and was the one advising friends on birth control or busting myths. And in my early 20s I met girls as young as 14 & 15 (at LA underground clubs in the 80s) that were mature & sophisticated enough that I had no idea of their ages til they told me, they were sexually active and usually dated older guys that they could relate to better than guys their own age.
      None of these girls I knew were used, or forced, or victims in these situations. They were comfortable with themselves and their sexuality, with talking about it and expressing it.
      It seems like this is a side of female sexuality that we never really hear about.

  27. Karl says:

    It doesn’t matter if she “consented” or not. In England, as in America, it’s a crime for an adult to have sex with anyone under 16. That’s it. You people are apologists for Bowie because he’s this massively overrated iconic, God-like, figure in you and your culture’s eyes that nothing he did wrong is to be held against him, and no laws are to be applied to him. This cult-like hero worshiping of “superstars” (musicians, actors, athletes, etc) is exactly what is wrong with our society today.

    You say she was “mature” enough to willfully consent to sex with an adult? Really? On what are you basing this conclusion? Certainly not that of medical professionals. Children and teens think they want many things for which they are unprepared and that could be detrimental to their mental and physical well-being, like alcohol. Should every child be given whatever he/she wants? Should those teachers who are prosecuted and jailed for the same offenses be allowed to have sex with 13, 14, 15 year olds? If this wasn’t some popular megastar, you’d probably be saying he used his power and influence that comes with his stardom to manipulate an impressionable, insecure teenage fan into having sex with him, and who he then threw away like yesterday’s paper. Or perhaps he recycled her as apparently other megastars passed her around as well. If he wasn’t a megastar, Bowie would be held legally and morally accountable for being the child predator he was.

    • Strangely Rational says:

      The age of consent is arbitrary. In some states in the US, it’s as old as 18. In my state it’s 16.

      When I was 18, I had a 16-year-old boyfriend. We weren’t having sex, but if we had, it would have been perfectly legal in our state. Now say we’d taken a trip to California, where the age of consent is 18, and had sex there. Now all of a sudden he’s a victim and I’m a predator?

      Can you understand how ridiculous that reasoning is? That the question of whether he’s mature enough to consent to sex can be answered differently depending on whether we’re on one side of the state line vs. the other?

      It isn’t that simple. Laws by necessity have to draw a firm line, but morality doesn’t work that way when it comes to the vast differences in emotional maturity and development among teenagers.

  28. Pearl says:

    If I’m understanding correctly, people are arguing over two different questions. Coquette adressed the question: “Was Lori Maddox raped?”. People who are upset seem to be framing her response under the question “Was David Bowie a predator?”. No, she was not raped: yes, it was still predatory behavior. And the grey morality of the situation has less to do with Lori’s age but more to do with the fact that he was specifically having sex with impressionable and star-struck groupies. A relationship like that could hardly be healthy, regardless of age. To put it another way, if Lori was in her mid-twenties it would still be predatory but no-one would question it because we assign maturity to age arbitrarily. At least, that’s how I interpreted what Coquette was saying.

  29. Florkje says:

    I read all of this, then took a walk and did lots of pondering…

    So, apart from David Bowie being evil/normal for that time & circumstances, a lot of the comments here seem to say that it’s the job of men, especially between say 18 and 24, to constantly say NO to girls & women for all kinds of reasons.

    Wants me but is too young
    Wants me but is drunk
    Wants me but has taken drugs
    Wants me but seems emotionally unstable
    Wants me but ….

    That’s all very admirable, but where are these men taught all this? Is there a special PSA, or is it a segment of US sex-education?

    I don’t mean this in a trollish way, but I’ve only learnt about all these things through reading US-internet over the last, say, 5 years.

    When I was a dumb & young womangirl in the mid 90s, like many have said before me, ALL we wanted was older boyfriends & alcohol. The more you did it the cooler you were considered. The frustration I experienced for getting neither can only be expressed in megawatts, and I’m still not totally over it 20 years later.

    Is this society finally being good to/for womengirls, or is this US puritanism doing its pearlcluthing thing?

    • Nerdlinger says:

      Both. Some fucked up shit of the past is being seen for what it is finally, and some people use this in order to adopt a hivemind idea over What Women Should Want (based on their own preferences, which are often a bit on the protective side). Some women may see drunken hook-ups as normal, some would qualify tipsy as taking advantage of someone, some ladies feel insulted if you decide a depressive spell means none of their decisions can be trusted, some will hate you if you give in when she’s going for sex-as-validation. It’s the job of the person who initiates to find out which is which.

  30. Rainbowpony says:

    Ah, coke. You diverted the attention from Bowie towards girls’ sexual agency and the controversial issue of statutory rape. She may have had agency, and he wasn’t a rapist, but shit, Bowie had piss poor character. Fuck the laws, the culture of the time and her enthusiasm, it’s gross. Really really gross. Let’s stop examining Sable Starr and girls’ sexuality, this convo was about Bowie. What the fuck kind of person does that? Let’s examine, instead, what was going through Bowie’s creepy mind, and how men come to think and act like that.

  31. Darren says:

    Just as a point of interest to ponder. Until the mid 2000s the age of consent in Canada was 14. So if Lori and David had been up there, there would be no discussion about the legality of it.

  32. AlligatorO says:

    Sooo with regards to the many disgusted remarks using legality as a crutch – guess how we established these laws? Through individual circumstances and cases. Way up in the thread someone mentioned ‘presentism’ to describe the bias present when the current moral lens is used to view past events when culture and laws were different. Check the dates on some of the laws.

    I was a teenage dater of older men. We didn’t have sex but there was a bit of kissing and petting. I felt in control the entire time and am certain as can be that I could have had sex whenever I chose. Just didn’t feel right so I passed and cut my teeth on a fellow virgin of the same age. I’m by no means knocking anyone for having pursued older partners, I did!, or for their sexual choices. The realities of our differing rates of biological and psychological development mean that consent is not a fixed point. I understand that we live embedded in legal systems that assigned them but cannot let that cloud my observations of the diversity of human experience.

    To the “rape apologist” crowd: use of these words casually, in offense during a debate over a case that you are not fully versed in, is inflammatory and serves little purpose.

  33. C says:

    You’ve basically said stuff I’ve been thinking ever since reading these allegations.

    I just… It’s hard for me, a white male virgin, to say anything like this without coming across as a willing participant in Rape Culture or some bullshit.

    I think what Bowie did was wrong, that he shouldn’t have broken the law, that we should all respect the law, even when we disagree, because we don’t have the right to break it. We have the right to choose and discuss whether to change it.

    But I don’t think Bowie was evil or despicable for what he did. Maybe he honestly believed these girls had the right to express themselves sexually.

    I still think it was wrong, but also because of modern views on agency and protection of minors. It is my own morality, really.

    I think we live in a slightly more enlightened time, where things like this are less grey, for better or worse. But, let’s face it, mostly for the better.

    Still, having sex with those on recreational drugs… God.

    That’s a whole other pack of worms.

    Note that I don’t excuse what he did, but I also believe we can’t fully judge him by our standards, and I’m mostly glad that we’ve progressed in many ways since then.

    • Mharr says:

      > We have the right to choose and discuss whether to change it.

      That argument would be stronger if everyone was immortal. We have basically no power to enforce those changes if the money is set against us, generally the best we manage is some incremental improvements for later generations. The thirteenth commandment seems reasonable in the circumstances.

      > Still, having sex with those on recreational drugs… God.

      Yeah, people do that all the time too, it can be awesome or it can be a train wreck. It’s best if you’re both in the same head space, but that’s just as true sober.

  34. Randy not Randy says:

    Homo Sapiens reach puberty and fuck with reckless abandon. That’s a biological fact. No, that doesn’t mean I think everyone has carte blanche to consummate their sexual desires with the first available partner. Don’t be so fucking black and white. Nevertheless I’m astute enough to know my sense of appropriate/inappropriate is culturally determined and based on multigenerational patterns of behavior. I submit Lori and David did what the majority of their peers would have done at the time. I’ll leave the moral high ground to someone else.

  35. C says:

    Thank you for this post. I cannot believe the torrent of bs posted by some people on fb and tumblr. People tend to jump on this bandwagon one after another throwing words like rapist and paedophile freely. She clearly was not manipulated in anyway at all – more like this is all hearsay and based on those who just see her as underage and him as an adult = illegal. It’s known after Bowie she slept with Jimmy Page and several other adult males – most of which are still alive. Why aren’t these men being called rapists too then? It was a different time, she has never stated she was raped yes she lost her virginity to him but she consented and was sure of herself in that decision. This one action (him acting on this) equates him to this one moment where a select group of people “call him out as an abuser” as an evil man nothing more – like he never contributed anything good in his life. It’s actually just disgusting people are doing this. It’s attention seeking in some way you know, like these people will be speaking out about schooling you on anything and get upset if you post your favourite Bowie song and comment “lol you know he was a rapist right?”
    Ugh these people are best ignored because no matter what you’re always unethical or a fuck up. No one is perfect, Bowie wasn’t perfect but he certainly wasn’t a rapist.

  36. rlstein says:

    I overall agree with this post, and it articulates something I’ve been trying to say, which is that we should let Lori Mattox speak for herself. If she was a close personal friend and I knew her well enough to tell that she wasn’t sincere about how on board with this she was, I might say something, but I don’t know her, so I have to take her words at face value.

    The main thing I’m grappling with is something that’s much murkier– the tendency of many male artists to seek out very young girls. Where does it come from? Why does it happen? I think as a trend, a lot of it is about power and coercion. Even when these girls claim to be taking ownership of it, a lot of that seems like an expectation has been created for them to accommodate men’s sexual desires, and it’s the thinking behind it is like, well if that expectation is there anyway, I might as well be the one leading the charge. Then again, I guess you could say the same of a 15-year-old boy having sex with a 15-year-old girl.

    Even though there’s more female sexual agency in this case than there is a lot of the time, it still upsets me. If you flipped it the other way, I think people would immediately think of it as gross instead of brushing it under the rug as much as they do. What if we found out Carrie Brownstein and Jane Campion just have like a harem of 15 year old boys that they bring with them? Surprise, surprise, double standards exist.
    I don’t have a strong point to end on, but as with everything related to gender politics, I’ve worked myself up to a place where I’m mad at the whole world and don’t know where to even begin fixing it.

  37. Helix says:

    The absence of prying a teenager with booze and coercion doesn’t imply the capacity to consent.

    Of course there’s kids old enough to begin trying to untangle the messiness of sexuality and agency. There always are, just like there’s always kids who score drinks as teens. That does not excuse the actions of men old enough to know that enabling the behavior could seriously hurt them in the long run. Exactly how many underaged girls is an adult man allowed to fuck before he’s considered a predator? Is it one? Two? Three? Does the cap raise if he’s a rock star versus an insurance salesman? How about stock brokers? Sports stars? Does the genre of music matter, or is any kind okay as long as they die before most people find out so the memorial gilding’s already kicked in?

    If she lied about her age believably, if things were so different in the seventies that this was normalized, that matters, but I’ve seen the defense “kids are mature, they know what they want, some are ready earlier than others and this one wanted it so it wasn’t wrong” in the mouths of pedophiles so often that seeing a less batshit variation here is unbelievable. There’s grey areas, sure, buy I’m tired of seeing “grey areas, shit’s complicated, you couldn’t have expected them to do any better” come up as an excuse for people to be able to disregard responsibility for consent in the face of ambiguity.

    I wish I could believe that the people who defend Bowie’s actions towards Maddox would defend them as confidently if it were a random adult in the nearest Starbucks whose relationship with an underage girl were under scrutiny.

  38. RavingNoah says:

    It’s convenient how apologists decide when and who someone is a child rapist or a pedophile.

    While Lori Mattix, who conflicting anecdotes place her at 13, 14 and 15 when she was active with the much larger phenomenon of children flocking to the Hollywood area as part of the “Baby Groupie” movement, plays a role in this story…using her as the sole example only serves to cloud the issue.

    It is a barely kept secret that Rodney Bingenheimer, in his role as the so-called Mayor of the Sunset Strip (and frequent Baby Groupie rapist himself), was the principle child trafficker to Bowie and other musicians in that time period. Lori Mattix lied about her age back when she wanted to exercise her (hilarious euphemistic) “sexual agency,” and she lies about what her age was now, knowing there are certain lines that certain creepy people will allow “grey distinctions” for, and apparently these days, fifteen just straddles this line.

    But, again, we cannot pretend like Mattix is the only thirteen-year-old, fourteen-year-old, or other underage child to have made up the phalanxes of this decadent period that gets a pass for no known good reasons. There could have been hundreds of such girls (and boys) subjected to predatory criminal behavior…spread all across the ladders of “in” prestige, from Nowhere, Kansas to the back rooms of the most twisted Melrose Avenue house parties. While Mattix and certain other ‘baby groupies’ are known quantities because they made it into the inner sanctum Hollyweird’s pyramid of personality…there cannot fail to be have been a trail of unknowables strewn across southern California…all seeking the same “agency.”

    The “works” are not a defense. One statutory rapist, pedophile, or child molester doesn’t get a pass over another statutory rapist, pedophile, or child molester merely because his or her artful output happened to make it to the Top 40 or the gallery or the silver screen.

    However Page, Bowie, and Bingenheimer (in particular) managed to escape the pitchfork and the torch, or the cell block and the soap bar, they did…and it just goes to show how deeply mired in hypocrisy our culture is, that we only call out our pedophiles and sexual deviants when it’s convenient. And that’s coming from someone not burdened by the moral framework of some religious tome.

    I get the sense that all Cosby has to do to gain his legacy back is die of cancer.

  39. handpie says:

    So..apart from an absolute lack of evidence, are we going to discount the possibility of Bowie not having known? If Mattix ‘looked and acted’ like an adult woman, she could have easily lied if she was actively looking to screw rock stars. Not blaming her at all, id have probably done the same thing if it meant getting with Bowie, but come think if she’d have told him he’s of legal age, that he’d card her or something?

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  41. DSM says:

    In Canada the legal age of consent was 14 up until 2008. I lost my virginity when I was 14 in 2002 to some frat boy goon who totally took advantage of me when I was drunk. I woke up on the bathroom floor and he was on top of me and it was gross. That was considered ‘ok’ back then though because in my drunken, quarter-coherent state, I had agreed on some level and I was the legal age of consent.

    Lori speaks fondly of her experience with Bowie. As a grown woman, an adult who has had time to reflect on the situation, she says that she went on to have a positive relationship with him. That is so much more than most woman can say about their experiences when it comes to losing their virginity. She has no qualms about the situation.

    Every situation and individual is different, this is such a circumstantial debate. I don’t think Bowie’s behaviour was predatory at all; people mature at different stages in their lives.

  42. Will Mac says:

    This debate reminds me of the Dave Chapelle sketch “How old is 15 anyway?”. Not that it was about child rape but IMO in this case you have to take some aspects into account. With this Bowie claim there’s no way to confirm anything. Not one picture of them together and she claims to have had a relationship over many years. The other issue is that Lori Maddox made a career talking about her time with rock stars. This stuff happened nearly half a century ago. Her stories alter over time.
    The age of consent thing has some issues IMO. Ie if the age of consent is 16 and a 17yr old has a relationship with a 15yr old, would anyone on here consider that rape?
    I’d like to add that Roman Polanski is a sick coward. I hope he gets sent back to the US before it’s too late.

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  44. Kayden P says:

    It is the responsibility of adults to not have sex with children. Plain and simple. You are blaming a child for the failure of an adult to protect them. Whether she was 13 or 15 years old, she was still an underdeveloped child who held far less power than the adult celebrity encouraging her to wash him and have sex. Regardless of whether she feels positive about the experience as an adult, it is abominable for adults to have sex with children. By the article, it seems the author thinks assaulting children is okay, so long as the child “looks and acts old enough,” cause, you know, then it’s totally the kid’s fault for looking that way, even though our society consistently encourages children to act older than they are in order to be taken seriously by adults.

  45. Pat Lamb says:

    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:

  46. b says:

    disgusting vile article excusing disgusting vile rapist pedophile men. children cannot consent to sex. end of. a 15 year old is a child. i hope you are never allowed near children if you are going so far to excuse the predatory actions of these disgusting pedophilic, RAPIST men just because they are famous and “talented.”

    unfortunately, many young people who have been preyed upon by older predatory people, because society and PEOPLE LIKE YOU brainwash them into thinking it is okay. it is never okay. it is a violation. it is rape. it is pedophilia. it is taking advantage of a young child who knows no better, to the point that even as an adult they might think it was okay.

  47. iseult says:

    In good old catholic Ireland when I was a young teenager and wanted to attract boys/men I wore lots of make up. went out and ended up with guys in their late teens and early twenties. Most of them assumed I was a lot older than I was. Why is it assumed that Bowie knew what age Lori was. I had sex with some of these older guys because I wanted to do and didn’t at any stage feel exploited. Btw, there are many times in my later life where i genuinely did feel that i was coereced or forced into having sex, age has little to do with it and people mature at different stages, how you are treated by your partner and the respect or lack there of is much more significant. My point is that Lori was a groupie and I doubt Bowie asked for ID and she probably looked a lot older than she was and she sought him out and seemed very happy to have sex with him and he is one of many musicians who took advantage of that. Doesn’t make it right but things were a lot different then, morally I don’t think he knowingly did anything wrong, legally (which is very fluid, dependent on the place and time) he may have unwittingly commited an offence. But to mention him in the same posts as well known paedophiles is outrageously out of context and those that bring up the rape allegation in 1987 against him which was thrown out by a grand jury as justification for pilloring him as some sort of predator are bang out of order.

    • Sandy says:

      That 1987 case was ridiculous but this woman is still trying to sell her story to the grubbiest tabloids. She and her boyfriend made the story up that he bit her and then told her she had AIDS. I mean really? But it was 1980s with the big AIDS scare. She must have watched his vampire movie too many times. He was promiscuous but I don’t think he was like that and he had his own evidence that resulted in his being cleared. In the 90s he settled down with Iman and I think his marriage to her was the happiest time of his life. It was real companionship which he needed because he didn’t have close family relationships. Lori’s story has a few issues with it (this in my other comment) and I need better proof. There were other rock stars still alive today though who had serious relationships with girls who they knew were underage. Bowie would never have done that because he wanted a partner who was his intellectual equal. Iman fit that bill – she speaks five languages fluently and is very cultured. A shame they could not have more time together.

  48. Sandy says:

    I am late here and haven’t read all the comments. But I am not convinced that this story is true. From what I understand Lori was born year 1958. Others have said she was going with Jimmy Page in mid 1972 after he broke up with Pamela. Bowie visited the USA on tour in late 1972 and early 1973. So if this happened second time they met it’s 1973 and she’d already been with Page and unlikely a virgin. There are no pictures or other witnesses so it may not have happened at all. The story keeps changing but the tour dates are definite and easily found. When you are discussing possible incidents from 40 years ago these things should be checked. Bowie was notoriously promiscuous in those days but his preference seemed to be mature experienced women. Not these little Lolitas.

  49. Mr N Farr says:

    Actually she was 14, Bowie and Jimmy Page are/were both paedophiles however talented they might once have been- or do we live in a world that only prosecutes “end of the pier” entertainers like Gary Glitter and Dave Lee Travis?

  50. ML says:

    Mattix is liar. There is a film clip of her saying she lost her virginity to Jimmy Page! Search ‘Jimmy Page and Lori Mattix’. In it she clearly says that she was still a baby, still a virgin. This is when she is 13/14. She contradicts herself from one interview to the next. How can she lose her virginity to Bowie at 15?? In the Thrillest she claims she met Page AFTER sleeping with Bowie! Bizarre! Also Wanda the alleged rape victim tried to sue Bowie for $$$$ and when that didn’t work she sold her story to the tabloids, the Sun newspaper a British tabloid for $$$$. Do rape victims sell their stories to grubby tabloid newspapers?? I wouldn’t….. I think Bowie was a victim of fame hungry/ money hungry opportunists but we are not allowed to view women like that are we?! I am a woman by the way

  51. James McCombe says:

    It wasn’t just Lori it was Sable Starr too and these are just the well publicised ones, his very good friend Iggy Pop actually sang about sleeping with Sable when she was 13.

    You say calling him a paedophile is ridiculous however I thought having sex with children was the definition of paedophilia. Do you mean that when it is an artist that you admire it has to be called something more palatable?

  52. Rachael Guity Shams-Avari says:

    David bowie whose real name is David Jones was himself prostituted out by his manager and his ex wife despite her denial. She was prone to raging and frankly he wasn’t. His wife and manager controlled that propaganda including publicity of him sexual molesting children. Yes all those rock stars used their influence negatively sexually. It was well known but the hidden cover ups had to do with conflicting emotions within his first marriage. I knew him as a child. I don’t blame my parents nor family for being subject to his crazed fanship sexual desires which cause abuse on me as a child.He S in my opinion simply a marvelous composer who spiralled into drugs and alcoholism after a particular bad abuse episode with his ex wife. When I got older and was legal age of consent he used his influence as a star in a strange way. He says in the past he was promiscuous with a bad reputation. Later in my life I discovered that but I noticed he really didn’t have much in the way of sexual boundaries with girls. Because of my history of knowing him as a child and having seem and helped him through injury I distrusted him and his wafe of the time.This distrust came to a head in my teens. Yes he did when he was in his young just come to a decision about having an affair with me when after my age of consent and he did use a heavy seduction which angered me and he backed off. I already knew him. I wasn’t expecting it. He was primarily Buddhist but there was still a certain warmth to him which I liked. We fought a lot over his alcoholism and drug abuse. Another girl claimed he got her pregnant and her old fashioned father flew into a rage to hunt him down. The problem was too many people had been under the idea that they could have sex with him whenever and wherever. He’s been mauled around me and then other girls because I was around him would try to abuse me over him out of jealousy. It was strange to me and I hated being around it.

  53. Rachael Guity Shams-Avari says:

    David bowie whose real name is David Jones was himself prostituted out by his manager and his ex wife despite her denial. She was prone to raging and frankly he wasn’t. I was too young to know or understand about his sex but his ex-wife and others accused him of being a sexual molester to very young children. Yes all those rock stars used their influence negatively sexually although as far as. I know David Jones did not sexually molest young children. Although his first wife accused him of sexual molestation it was simply to propagandize and control him. It was well known but the hidden cover ups had to do with conflicting emotions within his first marriage. I knew him as a child but his ex wife and manager used me to create a propaganda campaign due to my family. His fanship had come to our house and called because our number was given out by them. . I don’t blame my parents. David Bowie somehow knew my family when he was young in England and went chasing after my fathers cousin to date before his first wife. In my opinion he was simply a marvelous composer who spiralled into drugs and alcoholism after a particular bad domestic abuse by his ex wife which he had to be treated. This happened in front of me. When I got older and was legal age of consent he used his influence as a star in a strange way to get around my current boyfriend.. He told me he had a lot of girlfriends then. He also told me he was an alcoholic. He suddenly decided he and I were to have a love affair which angered me.. He really didn’t have much in the way of sexual boundaries with girls. He used his influence with me in my childhood to create a relaxed environment and seduced me. I wasn’t really interested in getting involved with him that way but I was grieving the loss of my cousin and I thought he was grieving too. I still distrusted him because he had remained married to his first wife although by that time they were divorced and estranged. This distrust came to a head in my teens. He is very humorous. I was already age of consent. The problems and conflicts were very real. His ex wife was still too clingy, he was still on drugs and drinking and our age difference was awkward. If I was around him I would get bullied by his fanship and they do maul. I didn’t desire a groupie role. I preferred company with mutual friends of ours. . We argued about his alcoholism and at times I felt as though he could not emotionally reciprocate and his ability to read the emotions were diminished to the role of drugs and alcohol. I watched as a girl did accuse him.of getting her pregnant while her father came looking for him at gunpoint. His real story in those times are not pretty ones. As for me I never felt obliged to him. Later I had a teenage step daughter who caused problems for me over wanting to meet him and she was violent. I was working at a behavioral health hospital where he would return to renewal meetings and his ex wife told her about me. He interfered with my life in a way I chose not to describe except to say I chose never to buy a record or rent a film he was in nor follow him as a fan. Not out of jealousy but due to the abuse I sustained as a child from fanship and the domestic abuse.

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  56. Pat says:

    The age of consent is 15 in my home country, so I don’t get why someone of that age shouldn’t be able to consent. But I’m aware that things are different in the USA.

  57. elle says:

    It’s not nuanced, she’s a child. there is no autonomy when you are a child. there is no consent when you’re a child. this is pure rape apology.

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